Friday, August 9, 2013

Floodgates open at the Lake of the Ozarks

It has been just over two years since lake area residents and visitors have seen the flood gates of the Bagnell Dam opened, and on August 7, 2013 the waiting had ended.

After  17 inches of rain the last 7 days Ameren plant engineers decided to open 11 out of 12 floodgates and release tens of thousands gallons of water. The sudden rush of inflow was expected to raise the river a further four feet causing places like Camp Bagnell and Riverview RV Park to be evacuated.

The evacuation took place with its own set of issues from displacement of campers to emergency vehicles warning residents and fighting fires possibly caused by lightning strikes being mired in the hazards of the flash flooding that occurred during the night’s storm.

The dam was built between 1929 and 1931 by Union Electric and at the time the largest man-made lake in the United States. The brainchild of Ralph Street in 1912 the dam’s original plan called for a smaller sixty foot hydroelectric dam that would have resulted in a lake only forty miles long instead of the current 2,453 foot dam and 180 mile long lake (the actual coast line of the lake is 1,100 miles; longer than coast of California!).

SSE founder Stan Schultz commented “When the dam was built it was an engineering

SSE's Bob Arnold, R.L.S., Ken Farris, and
Tony cobb take in the view of the Dam
marvel well ahead of its time. It is rare when a structure is stronger than when it was first built, but back in the 80’s adding tension rods to the bedrock below made the dam even stronger. Even if the northern Truman Dam were to somehow fail Bagnell Dam would remain. The civil engineers who designed the dam didn’t only bring environmentally friendly hydroelectric power to thousands but created an entire destination spot for the whole country. That is what civil engineering is about; making lives better for people.”

To see all the pictures from the open floodgates click HERE!

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