Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dec 29th Flood Update - Slowly Dropping

It appears lake levels crested last night around 10pm and the lake is now dropping as Ameren continues to operate the flood gates around 40% open. The flow rate is also decreasing in tandem. This is a likely attempt to reduce the amount of current this much water is creating.  Keeping the water moving, only not too fast, helps prevent excess debris from moving downstream all at once. At this rate however, it will be several days before we see normal lake levels.  It is likely this event will delay the start of the normal winter lake drawdown.

At the current rate of decline, the lake will reach normal full pool level of  660' close to the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

By contrast, the winter drawdown will lower the lake level 10 feet from where it is now.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dec 28th Flood Upate - 4PM CST

As of 4pm the lake level continues to rise, now at 663.79.  Discharge has increased to over 103,000 cfs.  Subtracting 35,000 cfs for flow available through the turbines, means 68,000 cfs is passing through the flood gates.  The 12 flood gates are each capable of releasing 13,503 cfs for a total of 162,036 cfs.

By these numbers we can estimate that all 12 flood gates are open approximately 42%.

Docks Breaking Free

This is the Hwy 54 bridge over the Niangua Arm near Camdenton.

This was posted at LakeExpo.com

Picture by Terry Summers

December Flooding Surpasses July's

December 28th.  As of the 2pm CST reading, discharge is being held at about 102,500 cubic feet per second but lake levels are still rising, although slowing down.  Currently the lake is at 663.73.  If discharge remains above 100,000 it is possible the lake will not reach 664.

The maximum flow discharge during the summer flooding peaked at just over 85,000 cubic feet per second with a lake level high of 662.55.

Here's what's happening on the Osage River, below the dam.  Up nearly 16 feet in 48 hours.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wake Restriction Legislation Has Been Filed for 2016

Update May 2018: HB 2116 is ready to sign!

Update Dec 2017: Representative Wood has pre-filed a new bill, HB 1591 to address the wake issue on the lake.

I've waited until the final bill proposal was filed in the Missouri House of Representatives before weighing in on the issue of large wakes on the Lake of the Ozarks.

After a very public comment period, Representative David Wood has filed House Bill 1885 to propose boater operating changes on all lakes in Missouri, not just the Lake of the Ozarks. So what is in this bill? How would it affect lake traffic? More importantly will it solve the problem of large and damaging wakes on the Lake of the Ozarks?

While Bill 1885 would retain the current restrictions for operating any vessel within 100 ft of any pier, dock or buoy, it would also add a new 300 foot restriction for all vessels, especially those over 45 feet in length that fit the proposed definition of a "cruiser".

"Cruisers shall not be operated within three hundred feet from the shore at a speed in excess of slow-no wake speed on any portion of a Missouri lake. For purposes of this section, "Cruiser" means a vessel measuring over forty-five feet in length measured from the swim platform to the tip of the bow with a living space below the main deck."

In summary this law would restrict any boat over 45 feet in length from being closer than 300 feet from just about everything, unless running at no-wake speed. For boats less than 45 feet, things get slightly less clear as any boat over 30 feet in length cannot "plow", defined as "intentionally operating a vessel with the bow elevated", within the same 300 foot restriction.  In addition, vessels of any size must maintain this distance if said vessel has additional ballast to promote the creation of large wakes (do people really do this?).

The rules are relatively straightforward, and while I'm sure some portions of the potential law will be contested in court at some point, enforcement is going to hinge on how law enforcement interprets the legal definition of "plowing" or "cruiser".

All boats are not created equal, an old 40ft foot Sea Ray Express can kick up plenty of wake even on plane. On the other hand, a 50 foot catamaran at 50+mph produces less wake than many smaller boats. This is where that definition of "cruiser" really matters. I believe the part of the cruiser definition that reads "with a living space below the main deck" is intended to separate true large cruisers from racing catamarans. I don't think a catamaran would qualify as a "cruiser" since what's below deck on them can hardly be considered living space by any reasonable person.

Keep in mind, there are many boats less than 30 feet not be subject to these new rules (unless purposely taking on additional ballast) that are quite capable of producing large wakes, So what does this bill offer to protect property owners from smaller boats that can still put out punishing wakes just outside of 100 feet from shoreline and structures?

The solution is possibly contained within the most promising portion of the bill, namely the creation of "Cove Watch" programs.

"The water patrol division of the state highway patrol shall work in conjunction with local law enforcement to provide guidance to citizens residing on or near bodies of water who wish to establish cove watch programs."

As defined,

"..."cove watch" means a group of people living in the same area in residences located on or near a lake who want to make their neighborhood cove safer by working together and in conjunction with the water patrol and local law enforcement to reduce crime, promote safe water practices, and improve quality of life."

This provides neighborhoods and areas the means to establish associations with authorities to help control activity in their immediate area of the lake. This could possibly be the most effective part of the bill in the end as law enforcement alone will not change the complexion of the lake. Giving property owners a means of involving Water Patrol in the monitoring of activity in their coves should help. The real solution to keeping the lake enjoyable for everyone lies within ourselves as both property owners and boaters. Posting notices on docks that coves are being "watched" let's boaters know that property owners are on the lookout for bad behavior and more importantly have the support of Water Patrol to help with enforcement.

This bill has a long, long way to go but it does at least try to address the issue.  At this point I can get behind the establishment of Cove Watch programs and let the boat size restrictions go for now. My guess is that this bill will slowly fade away and never even make it to the Senate for discussion because when push comes to shove, legislators are always afraid of bleeding the golden goose that is the Lake of the Ozarks.

Update January 2016 - This Bill is going nowhere

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

November 2015 Lake Levels and Discharge

No power generation to speak of in the first half of November meant lake levels stayed virtually constant.  Rain and cold moved in and the lake reached full pool, nearly two and a half feet above the 5 year average.  Power generation is clearly seen in the latter part of the month as average generating discharge dropped the lake towards more average levels.