Articles

Archive for May, 2018

HIGH WATER AT KERR LAKE DOES MORE THAN CANCEL PARK PLANS – LAUNCHES MASSIVE CLEANUP OPERATIONS

High Water of Kerr Lake Over Memorial Day Weekend Is Just the Beginning – After Campers – The Big Sweep Begins

The people who have been visiting Kerr Lake over the long Memorial Day weekend and who did not have their plans canceled or dampened by a daunting 308.68-foot Kerr Lake flooded level, that’s over eight and a half feet over full pool, are trickling out of the campgrounds, boat ramps and day-use areas.

Forecasts say that the people will be replaced instead, with more rain.  The lake is much lower now in preparation for this week’s rains, 305.25 feet today at noon.  That’s not much consolation to the 1000’s who were turned away from many public parks on the lake with low-lying public areas beginning late last week.  Kerr Lake Park Watch tried to encourage the US Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Kerr earlier and with more release volume, but the releases came too late to save a lot of the camping extended weekend for park users.

Now comes the cleanup and that’s no small task.  People who use Virginia, North Carolina or US Army Corps of Engineers’ parks during high water and those who had to cancel plans because of high water, generally don’t think about the aftermath.

Believe us when we say that the maintenance crews all around Kerr Lake were scurrying this morning before 8:00 AM.  First, there’s a general washup of trash, leaves and all kinds of debris left on the various flood rings as the water level recedes.  That’s one job and a large one.  Secondly, large limbs and trees are resting where they’re not supposed to be, on roads, in campsites, in picnic areas, even on picnic tables.

          

We saw several different crews mobilized in several different parks with Bobcats, backhoes, tractors, plus shovels and rakes, all cleaning up from Kerr’s high-water weekend.  Thirdly, electrical boxes, power and water must be restored to the specific areas that were under water, which is considerable at any level over 306 feet above sea level.

Meanwhile, park office phones have subsided with floods of calls about cancellations.  We asked approximately 20 campers who had to be moved in various parks if Reserve America notified them and they responded, all of them with a “no,” that they were notified by their respective park service.  That process probably continues as canceled Memorial Day weekend park visitors will either get refunds or their camping times rescheduled.

For those of us who come to Kerr Lake for whatever recreational purpose, we see our value-added coming from the maintenance people, whom we regard as contributing the most to the camping experience.  With Kerr Lake and her floods, storms, winds and whatever else she can hurl at park workers and the public, we think all maintenance and park care-takers should take a bow.  The next time you are in a Kerr Lake park, you should stop one and thank them.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

Leave a Comment (2) →

OCCONEECHEE OPENS NEW SPLASH – SPRAY GROUND

According to news reports, since that is the only way Kerr Lake Park Watch can get information on Virginia’s two state parks on Kerr Lake, the new Splash – Spray Ground is now open at Clarksville’s Occoneechee State Park.

It was about 13 months ago on April 22, 2017, that Kerr Lake Park Watch broke the story about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe attending a ground-breaking ceremony for the new park.  We attended uninvited, although some Kerr Lake Park Watch founders are also co-founders of the Friends of Occoneechee State Park, which unfortunately is fairly defunct.

                      Photo from Virginia State Parks/DCR

The Spray Ground, which cost just under $2 million and from news reports it looks as though the Splash Spray Ground will be open for fee participation on weekends, and will operate through the summer, generally from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The water feature is the first of its kind offered on the shores and on public land of Kerr Lake.  In addition to supplying fun for kids of most ages, a key component of the design of the Splash Spray Ground is that it has its own water reclamation system.  That is a wise use of water since Occoneechee State Park is the largest water customer of the Town of Clarksville.

Posted in: KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW - WATER RELATED

Leave a Comment (0) →

HIGH WATER AT KERR LAKE PROMISES TO FOUL SOME MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CAMPING & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

The waters of Kerr Lake are still rising here on Monday night, just four nights away from one of the biggest camping, picnicking, boating and grilled foods weekends of the year, the extended Memorial Day Weekend.

With rains pouring in again this evening, there’s a good chance that the level of Kerr Lake will rise above the 308.5-foot level, and depending on how much rain, the lake could go higher.

Affecting the North Carolina side with the seven NC State Recreation areas which are lower in elevation, the waters of Kerr Lake rose over two feet last night hitting 307.5 ft (above mean sea level) today around noon.  Several campers have been moved to other sites on the NC side because the electrical boxes must be pulled and according to NC State Parks, Bullocksville and Henderson Point parks were completely shut down today.

Campers on this loop may have no where to camp this holiday weekend.

Contacted by Kerr Lake Park Watch, the US Army Corps of Engineers said today that the much sought after QRR Plan (Quasi-Run-of-River), which allows for larger releases of water from Kerr and the lower lakes.  The Corps had been releasing 15,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) but has upped that to 25,000 and for the rest of this week, 35,000 CFS.

Inflows were slowing until most of the Kerr watershed received another dumping of rain this evening.

This is part of the hourly Kerr Lake measurements of water levels by the USACE:  1st column – date; 2nd column – time (24hr); 3rd column – inflows to Kerr in CFS; 4th column – outflow from Kerr in CFS; 5th column – Kerr Lake level at that hour

Commenting on the large and heavy inflows to Kerr Lake, Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Management with the Corps said, “The last week has produced a tremendous amount of rain (see graphic below – view in html), pushing river flows above flood stage and resulting in inflows into Kerr over 80,000 CFS for most of Saturday and Sunday. Dan and Roanoke River flows, and thus inflows into Kerr, have peaked, but there is still plenty of water being stored in the lake.”

Hatchell added, “Anticipate a peak elevation nr 308.5 ft tonight/Tuesday.  We are increasing this week’s declaration to initiate 25,000 CFS releases tomorrow, followed by 35,000 CFS releases beginning Wednesday through middle of next week.  Even with this increase, we will possibly be near 305.5 – 306 feet (above mean sea level) next Friday, based on forecast inflows.

For any of the parks with low-lying camp sites, picnic areas, swimming areas and boat ramps, that could mean canceling plans.  Several public roads outside the parks are also affected and will continue to be affected this weekend.

In Hibernia Park, for instance, all 148 campsites in Areas 1, 2 and 3 are booked this weekend.  Those in Area 3 which is a much lower elevation, mostly like will not open back for the holiday weekend.

The drop from what ever level Kerr Lake reaches by Friday will still leave some campsites under water or without power.

If you do not know your camping spot you’re going to on Kerr or you know your camping spot is normally very close to the water, you should call the agency which oversees the particular park you’re going to visit.  That could be the US Army Corps of Engineers, NC State Parks or possibly Virginia State Parks, although those parks are not as susceptible to flooding.

If you are coming to Kerr Lake, particularly to boat, some of the closed boat ramps may open by the Memorial Day weekend, but you should remember two important things:

  1. DANGER – the water is much higher than normal and driving a watercraft close to shore is dangerous if you are unfamiliar with your location on the lake.
  2. DANGER – because of high waters, there are a lot of floating debris on the lake, including but not limited to logs, trees and trash.

Take time to find out the status of the location for your Kerr Lake activities and then enjoy and be safe.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

RAINS RAISE WATER LEVEL IN GUAGES, KERR LAKE’S LEVEL & QUESTIONS ABOUT LAKE VISITOR’S PLANS

“I remember the first time an out-of-state visitor asked me about high and low tides at Kerr Lake. I laughed until I cried.” Comment from Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake, who offers this information about the tide going up this weekend at Kerr Lake.
 
“We’ve had an update from the US Army Corps of Engineers that due to recent rains, many very heavy in the Roanoke River Basin, the lake levels are going up,” said Timberlake. There’s no need for serious concern or cancellations at this point, but they’re (USACE) expecting Kerr Lake to hit 306 feet above mean sea level by sometime Monday, if the rains continue.”
 
Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Manager with the US Army Corps of Engineers said, “Heavy rain is in the basin and more is forecast for today and tomorrow. Rivers are responding and inflows are starting to increase into the lakes. The following shows the 7-day total rainfall on the basin. Totals are near 2-4 inches basin-wide, with higher amounts in various locations.”
Hatchell added that lake goers should expect a peak near 306 ft Monday if rainfall forecast materializes. The Corps will begin 15,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) releases Monday (increased from 9,000 cfs as were requested in the original declaration), to address the rain that has already fallen. Further increases may be needed in releases next week to manage lake levels. The Corps will revise the declaration on Monday to adjust if necessary.
 
As of 5:00 PM today, Kerr Lake’s level had risen to 301.58. Forecasts change and changes in releases constantly change the lake level. People with plans at the public facilities along the shore of Kerr Lake this weekend and next Memorial Day weekend should check the lake level from time to time.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

Leave a Comment (1) →