CONWAY – In anticipation of heavy rains over the next three days, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has started dropping Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir’s water level. The threat for flooding is very high and the predicted rain totals have continued to increase. As of this morning, central Arkansas is predicted to receive more than 7 inches of rain by Thursday.
Lake and downstream property owners should take precautions. The lake is not a flood control reservoir and the proactive drawdown will provide only minimal storage and will not mitigate the need to remove water from flash flooding that may occur in the watershed.
“The amount and intensity of rain we received in a short period of time can cause much more water to be flowing into the lake than could flow out,” said Matt Horton, lake manager with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
AGFC Chief of Fisheries Mark Oliver has announced that all 15 of the lake’s spillway gates will be opened to evacuate water in anticipation of this potential flood event. “All 15 spillway gates are open. This is an unpredictable weather system and the speed that it travels will have a lot of influence over rainfall totals. If the worst happens, we’ll distribute sand and sand bags to Paradise Landing, Palarm, Caney Creek and Lawrence Landing access areas for lakeside landowners to use for protecting low-lying structures,” Oliver said.
Lake manager Matt Horton said another reason for opening the gates early is the majority of the heaviest predicted rain is to fall right on the Arkansas River valley, from western Oklahoma to central Arkansas. “Given the intensity and duration of this predicted rain event, it is possible that the Arkansas River could reach the flood stage or at least rise significantly. This would cause water to back up in Palarm Creek and drastically slow the discharge of flood water from Lake Conway,” Horton explained.
The AGFC will be monitoring the rain event around the clock. Once the rain event is over, the AGFC will shut all 15 gates to allow water levels to reach the normal pool elevation of 263 feet above sea level.