While farmers and ranchers downstream, kept an eye on the Red's water levels, engineer Greg Estep, chief of water management at the Corp's Tulsa office, focused on weather forecasts, lake levels and flood water releases from reservoir dams.
"We keep track of how much water is coming in and how much storage area we have in the lakes," Estep
said."We know about what we can release to prevent major flooding."
During heavy rain activity, Estep
said, the Corps makes decisions on how much water to release from each lake to prevent major flooding.During the past three weeks, flooding occurred in DeKalb, covering acres of farm and pasture land when the river crested slightly higher than 28 feet.Flood stage is 24 feet.
"I don't believe it got into any buildings," Estep
"Recreation takes a back seat to protecting lives and property," Estep
said about the necessity during flooding conditions to hold water in reservoirs until river levels downstream can handle additional water.
"Only in an extreme emergency would we close off that valve," Estep
said.The engineer explained the valve is designed to release an amount equivalent to what Sanders Creek can carry.
"We would have to use a capping device lowered by a crane to shut off the valve," he
"We also use forecasting techniques and information from the National Weather Service
to determine in advance how much water to expect to come into the lakes from Red River watersheds," Estep
"I keep my eye on the weather from DeKalb to the Texas Panhandle," Estep
said, explaining the Red River watershed extends to northwest Texas, bringing water to Lake Texoma.
Improved forecasting and automatic gauge technology through the past decade have advanced the Corps'
ability to manage lake and river levels.
"We use an quantitative participation forecast from the National Weather Service
that predicts rainfall five days in advance," Estep