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Minimum Flow Hearing tonight

Phil Lilley

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  • Root Admin

Corp is holding a "fact finding" meeting tonight at the Taney Center north of Forsyth at 7 pm.

From the Branson Daily News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to undertake a project that would raise the levels of two area lakes.

The Corps’ Little Rock District Project Manager Mike Biggs said once the project is complete the normal level of Bull Shoals Lake would be raised an average of five feet and the average level of Norfork Lake would be raised as much as one foot.

“What will happen is the lake level will be raised and that will cause fluctuations in lake levels to go slower,” Biggs said. “This will really stabilize the lakes’ levels quite a bit.”

The corps will regulate the minimum flow by releasing a steady 500 cubic feet of water per second into the lake from the lakes’ flood reserves.

Biggs said although the project is meant to stabilize lake levels, preventing the rising and falling of water levels, he said “extreme conditions” will still be “out of the corps’ hands.”

“The corps can’t control how much it rains,” Biggs said. “If it rains a lot, the level will still go up, and if we face a drought situation, lake levels will still go down.”

Taney County Presiding Commissioner Chuck Pennel said the county commission requested that Biggs attend a public hearing in Taney County in an effort to inform the public of the future changes.

“The county commission just found out about this and very few of the Taney County residents have any idea about this,” Pennel said. “I feel it is the commission’s duty to help get the word out to the public.”

Pennel said other benefits would come out of the hearing.

He said while visiting with a representative from Senator Kit Bond’s office he learned that the raising of the lake levels was “pretty much a done deal,” but that having a public hearing at this point could be beneficial to the county.

“(The representative) said that if we did go ahead and have the public hearing and there were any damages to property — whether it be a privately-owned boat dock or a county road — then we would have a better chance of recouping the loss,” Pennel said. “If (we had not had a hearing) we might not have had as good of chance (of recouping losses).

“This will also be of benefit because it will get questions answered for county residents.”

Biggs said he realized that area roads and boat docks are a concern.

“If someone is concerned, they need to contact the corps or the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, a non-federal partner on the project, and they will look at the elevations and see if the docks need to be raised or extended,” Biggs said. “But it looks like at this point that properties that will be the most impacted will be corps parks.”

The project manager said people also need to be aware that the soonest the project could effect the area is not for a few years.

“This is not something that is going to happen tomorrow,” Biggs said. “We’re still waiting on some money from Congress then we have to go through a pre-engineering and construction design phase.”

He said the soonest construction could start on Bull Shoals would be in mid-2008 and on Norfork in 2010.

The public hearing will be held tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Taney Center, located just east of Forsyth on U.S. 160.

Biggs described the hearing as a “fact-finding mission” and said he would answer questions in an objective manner.

“The Corps of Engineers is neither a proponent or opponent of raising the minimum flow,” Biggs said. “We’re just doing what Congress tells us to do.”

He said the raising of the water flows would be a benefit to fishermen in the area by ensuring better environments for trout to spawn and live in, and that Congress is taking steps to make sure that electricity cost will not increase.

Biggs said the decision to raise the minimum flow was made by three congressional decisions, one in 1999, one in 2000 and one earlier this year which was the result of 20 years of research.

The Corps recently extended the public comment period on the issue to Aug. 18 and encourages interested residents to review the environmental impact study done for the project and make comments good, bad or neutral.

The study can be viewed from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Corps’ Mountain Home Project Office in Mountain Home, Ark.; Beaver Project Office in Rogers, Ark.; Table Rock Project Office in Branson; Greers Ferry Project Office in Heber Springs, Ark.; or the District Office in Little Rock, Ark.

A draft of the study is also posted on the Internet and can be viewed at http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/planning/wrminflow.html.

“We’re not afraid of negative comment. We want all the comment we can get to help us have a better and more complete study,” Biggs said.

Written comments should be addressed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Attn: Mike Biggs CESWL-PM, P.O. Box 867, Little Rock, AR 72203-0867.

Comments must be post marked by Aug. 18 to become part of the official record. For more information, call Biggs at 501-324-5842 ext. 1071.

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  • Root Admin

I went to the meeting last night. I took notes and have typed up a report but I've sent it to Mike Biggs to go over and see if I'm right on the facts. I should have something today to first of next week- then I'll post it.

MF will not happen at Taney for a long time. MF will be implimented below Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams within 3-5 years but not before.

Details to follow soon.

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