JOHNSTON, Iowa – Rising water levels at the Saylorville Lake Reservoir have forced the Army Corps of Engineers to take some precautions to keep water from reaching the spill-way, which would lead to flooding.
Opening the gates is allowing water in Saylorville Lake to flow down-stream into the much larger Lake Red Rock in Marion County to keep water levels below flood stage.
The raging waters attracted plenty of people to Saylorville Friday afternoon. Many were just enjoying the scenery instead of worrying about flooding.
“The appeal to me is to watch the kids enjoy the flow of the water. They enjoy watching it come out of the dam,” Duane Alpers from Polk City said.
The water is being released from the Saylorville Reservoir at about fifteen thousand cubic feet per second.
Due to heavy rains up in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, the water is coming into the lake much faster – at about 19 thousand cubic feet per second.
That will cause the river to rise another seven feet Saturday and continue to rise for another week.
The peak water level forecast has actually dropped since Thursday and will be more than twenty foot below flood levels when it is reached on June 28.
However, engineers are watching the forecast closely.
A few torrential down-pours up north and Saylorville may not be able to empty quickly enough to keep the water from the spill-way.
“If the northern watershed fills up, if for some reason the southern watershed gets hit really hard, and if some reason we have to cut back our releases, obviously that would cause the lake to fill up a little faster,” Saylorville Operations Manager Jeff Rose explained.
The rising river levels have led to a number of closures at Saylorville Lake.
By Monday, the only boat ramps that will be open will be the Cherry Glen and Lakeview high water ramps.
A number of beaches and access roads have already been closed.