In advance the normally scheduled winter drawdown, Entergy Arkansas, Inc. will slowly begin lowering lakes Hamilton and Catherine approximately half an inch to one inch per day beginning Oct. 24 to help mitigate low water flows on the Ouachita River in south Arkansas. South Arkansas has been in an extended extreme drought condition, causing water levels in the Felsenthal Wildlife Management Area to drop to a level that is requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to curtail outflow through the Corps of Engineer's lock and dam located near Crossett. This flow restriction is presenting challenges to various industry, commercial operations and municipal operations downstream of Felsenthal on the Ouachita River.
"This early lowering of lakes Hamilton and Catherine will bring them to the bottom of their normal summertime operating range before we start the annual winter drawdown, which will begin Nov. 5," said Bobby Pharr, process superintendent of Entergy Arkansas hydro operations. "The effect on public recreational use of the lakes will be minor."
The annual drawdown of lakes Hamilton and Catherine will be 5 feet this year. Both lakes will be slowly lowered Nov. 5 - Nov. 13. This advance drawdown will provide a small head start on the full drawdown that will begin Nov. 5.
Entergy Arkansas will gradually make these adjustments at a rate of approximately 4-6 inches per day. The water released at the dams will be used to generate emission-free, low-cost hydroelectric power. Entergy Arkansas will return the lakes to their normal summertime levels in early March 2012.
Remmel Dam, which forms Lake Catherine and feeds the Ouachita River, is currently in a non-generation mode and has been releasing the minimum flow required by the federal operating license. Maintaining minimal flow levels sustains environmental conditions downstream of the dam. "The current required level is 200 cubic feet per second of flow," Pharr said. "This early lowering of the lakes will allow Entergy to increase flows from Remmel Dam to approximately 325 cfs in its effort to alleviate the drought impacts on the Ouachita River in south Arkansas and north Louisiana."
Boaters should use caution while on the lakes during the entire drawdown period because additional shallow areas will exist 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 boats and docks are able to adjust to the drawdown. Failure to do so may cause damage to docks and boats. 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