Flooding Concerns as Water Levels in Saylorville Lake Climb

JOHNSTON, Iowa  --  Water levels in Saylorville Lake are rising rapidly but new numbers show the forecast crest of the lake has gone down by about four feet.

The latest forecast from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the lake reaching an elevation of 880.94 feet on July 4th. The top of the spillway is 884 feet.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been preparing areas around Saylorville Lake that are already flooded or soon will be. They have already closed off parts of Neal Smith Trail and several boat ramps, including one of the most popular boat ramps on the lake Cherry Glen, which they expect will be underwater in the next few days. Right now, from the lake, they are releasing 16,000 cubic feet per second into the Des Moines River.

“So, we’re trying to get rid of the water as fast as we can and as much as we physically can and also still follow the water regulation plan, we have to watch for the major constraint down at Southeast 6th street. So, we have to make sure those flows don’t exceed the current deviation has for the plan,” Army Corps of Engineers, Operations Project Manager Jeff Rose said.

Southeast 6th Street is used as a point of measurement, if those river levels are over 26.5 feet they need to cut back on outflow from Saylorville Lake. As of 4 A.M. Tuesday, river levels were 26.63 feet.

Cutting back on the outflow will cause lake levels to rise, Rose urges boaters to be cautious because of the excess debris in the water.

“It can damage your vessel, it can damage your motor, your prop. If you are going at a high rate of speed and you hit one of these submerged logs or trees it could send people out of the boat. So again, we always encourage, strongly recommend everybody wearing their life jackets,” Rose said.

There are still some boat ramps that will continue to stay open. Beaches and parts of the trails will remain closed through the fourth of July. The campgrounds will not be affected by flooding as they are located higher than the flood level.