Army Corps of Engineers Work to Drain Okatibbee Lake

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Collinsville, Miss. Flooding has been a major concern all across the Twin States after nearly 48 hours of rain dumped over half a foot of rain across most locations. Okatibbee Lake which is a part of the Pascagoula River Basin has been hit especially hard as rain over the past two weeks has raised the water levels from 340 feet on March 28th to almost 349 feet. With the lake flooding several areas around the area, the Army Corps of Engineers will have to release some water.

"We are mandated by the Water Release Manual through our Engineering Water Management Department in Mobile," said Mark Dean of the Army Corps of Engineers. "Once we reach 349 feet we must release around 1200cfs until we can get the lake back down to 344 which is mean sea level."

Now cfs is cubic feet per second with 1200cfs translating to 9,000 gallons per second. With 70,000 gallons flowing into the lake per second, it could take up to a week for the lake to recede back to normal. Normal inflow into the lake is around 4000 gallons per second. Even though so much water is flowing into the lake and creating flooding problems for the area, areas downstream won't be affected as much with the release of the water.

"Down south of here in Clarke County, at the stages they were at around
Enterprise, the river forecast center was rating that as moderate impact," said Dean. "The releases that we release here, by the time it reaches down there it won't basically be any noticeable impact."

Dean says that the lake and dam are doing what they were assigned to do and that the areas downstream may only rise by about an inch. The lake is expected to peak at 350 feet and the Army Corps of Engineers is working as efficiently as it can to get the lake back to normal pool.