By Ronnie Weston| September 26, 2012 at 9:05 PM CDT - Updated June 28 at 8:00 AM
HOT SPRINGS (AGFC) – The annual drawdown of Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine will begin Nov. 3. Lake Hamilton will be drawn down five feet. Lake Catherine will be drawn down three feet this year.
Lake levels will be reduced about six inches per day on Lake Hamilton and about four inches per day on Lake Catherine. The drawdown will be complete on both lakes by Nov. 11. The water released at the dams will be used to generate emission-free, low-cost hydroelectric power. Both lakes will return to their normal summertime levels in March 2013.
In addition to facilitating shoreline maintenance and inspection, the annual drawdown is part of a plan to help control nuisance aquatic vegetation. Entergy Arkansas coordinates the annual winter drawdown with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Fisheries, vegetation, facility management and downstream water needs are the key factors considered in deciding the drawdown's depth and timing. The reason for the additional drawdown on Lake Hamilton is to combat an excessive growth of two common types of aquatic vegetation called chara and filamentous algae. "These species of vegetation are not uncommon in our lakes, but the warmer-than-normal temperature and clearer water this year has caused them to grow more abundantly, causing a problem for boaters and swimmers," said Bobby Pharr, process superintendent of Entergy Arkansas hydro operations. "Clearer water from lack of rainfall has allowed sunlight to penetrate deeper water, and, as a result, promoted increased aquatic plant growth."
Boaters should use caution while on the lakes during the drawdown period because there will be more shallow areas, and winter rains can increase the amount of debris washed into the lakes. Owners of boats and floating docks should also take precautions to ensure they are able to adjust to the drawdown. Failure to do so may cause damage to them. Some docks will be able to rest on the lakebed with little or no problem. If the shoreline is steep or rocky in a particular area, dock owners may need to temporarily move docks to deeper water. If relocating a dock, be sure it does not restrict navigation or become a boating hazard.
Entergy Arkansas will not require a permit for the temporary relocation of docks due to the drawdown, but the dock must be returned to its permitted location once the lake returns to its summertime level. Entergy Arkansas also recommends using a licensed electrician to make any alterations to wiring in conjunction with the drawdown.
Lakefront property owners needing further information on the drawdown schedule or shoreline permitting guidelines and applications for lakes Hamilton or Catherine can call Entergy Arkansas' hydro operations office at 501-844-2148 or visit the hydro operations website at www.entergy.com/hydro.
Visitors to the website may also subscribe to receive lake and flow information by email. To receive weekly information on the operation of the lakes, the public can "Like" hydro operations' Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/lifeonthelakes.