Live Web Cam - White River, 2 miles below Bull Shoals Dam.
Note - To determine water level - on the right side of the picture there are five plastic spoons attached to a tree. Where the spoon lines up with the roof of the boat dock is the approximate number of generators. The first spoon at the bottom is for zero generators running; the second is for around two; third for around four; fourth for around 6; and fifth for around 8.
Other White River sites include -
Actual level - There are eight generators, or units, and one generator equals a little over 3000 cfs (cubic feet per second), or a little less than 50 mw (megawatts).
Projected level - (Bull Shoals Dam, the tailwater being White River, is #14 "BSD"). Note: Projections may not be what actually happens!!
Also, call 866.494.1993 and say "Bull Shoals" to get generation data.
Buffalo River -
White River Lakes, another link, and another - (Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake)
The White River Basin is comprised of several counties in Northwest Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. Some major streams include the James River (near Springfield MO), the Kings River (near Berryville AR), the Roaring River (near Cassville MO) ; and the headwaters of the White River (near Fayetteville AR).
More High Water - May, 2011.
Notice: 24 May 2011 - We've had tons of rain and the water level is much higher than normal.
We've made an observation that for the river to hold the first 24,000 cfs (about 8 generators capacity), it requires about 12 vertical feet of water. Then for the next 24,000 cfs (being released through the flood gates), it requires 4 vertical feet.
The high water in 2008 caused some damage along the river. But more damage was sustained during the high water of 2011.
The fishing was actually really good during the high water.
Out on the river with flood gates open - April, 2008.
Views below Bull Shoals Dam with all 17 flood gates open (about a half foot). Due to heavy rains in the White River watershed*, additional water was released during April 11-17, 2008 (27,000 cubic feet per second), and again on April 25-29 (35,000 cfs). The river was up an additional two feet over the eight generator mark. There was lots of water, but it's not dangerous as long as normal safety procedures are followed. The last time the gates were open was 1993 (except briefly for a re-dedication in 2002).
* Even more water was released from the upstream lakes during the second week of April:
Table Rock - 48,000 cfs
Beaver - 58,000 cfs
The Corps of Engineers has an operating plan. It is our opinion the plan needs a little adjustment to allow for unusually high amounts of rainfall. Charles Newland wrote the following letter to the Corps regarding this issue:
It’s been a year since all the high water in the White River System. I had a few thoughts and suggestions:
”Flood Control - Flood Control - Flood Control” – This is why I had always understood the dams on White River were primarily constructed.
And I guess over the years, there has been an operating plan that very much takes into consideration the important farming sector of Arkansas for farmers who chose to purchase and produce crops along the White River. An operating plan something along the lines of the following:
-- From 1 December through 14 April - Regulate to 21 feet EXCEPT, if a natural rise exceeding 21 feet occurs, regulate to the lesser of the observed crest or 24 feet.
-- From 15 April through 7 May - Regulate to 14 feet EXCEPT, regulate to 21 feet from 15 April through 30 April, and 18 feet from 1 May through 14 May, if the 4-lake system storage exceeds 50% full.
-- From 8 May through 30 November - Regulate to 12 feet EXCEPT, regulate to 14 feet from 15 May through 30 November, if the 4-lake system storage exceeds 70% full.
-- Presently, the Corps of Engineers are regulating Newport to 14 feet as the 4-lake system (Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork) has more than 70% flood storage in use. Regulating means releases from Bull Shoals and Norfork will be made to hold that stage until stored flood waters are evacuated. Once the 4-lake system is evacuated to below 70% flood storage in use, releases from Bull Shoals and Norfork will be further reduced to regulate to 12 feet.
I think the plan is largely a good one - that of regulating the White River system to the guages at Newport and Georgetown. But the unprecedented scenario during the spring of 2008 (allowing all the lakes to become full at the same time), puts in jeopardy those who made a choice to live or own a business (or both) along the tailwaters below the lakes. Since the existing plan calls for continued holding of water until there’s no more room and water has to be released, it's “as if the dams are not there”. And if it's as if the dams aren't there, how can there be any ”Flood Control - Flood Control - Flood Control”?
It seems to me there should be a wavier, or exception, of some sort. Maybe something like the following:
-- Exception: maintaining current levels at Newport/Georgetown, unless lake levels rise to within “x” number of feet below the top of the flood gates (I suggest four feet at Bull Shoals, three feet at TableRock, and two feet at Beaver and Norfork). Then a "semi-emergency" plan of non-damaging releases (regardless of stages at Newport and Georgetown), such as: 1) maximum water generation, and, 2) partial flood gates opening. To continue until the lake level drops at, or below, the set amount.
Then, in the event of more significant rain, there should be the storage capacity to hold water. And maybe having to open the flood gates five, ten, or however many, feet would "not" have to be implemented.
In my opinion, the present course of allowing the lakes to become, and remain, completely full is "courting disaster". In that condition, and a hurricane Gustav or Ike, settled over the White River basin dumping a bunch of rain - well, I don't think it would be good.
It remains paramount in my thinking that some mechanism must be in place to allow some storage of flood waters. What I keep thinking of is the concept of "it's as if the dams aren't there" (actual quote below) regarding Norfork Lake. If this concept is true, and I think it is, the river (either Norfork, or White) if allowed to become completely full, would be back to it original state, vulnerable to severe flooding. Thus back to my original phrase - ”Flood Control - Flood Control - Flood Control”.
Thanks for your consideration. Perhaps this letter can be added as part of any "after action report" (if there is one), as I'm confident all of us have not experienced that much rain before.
Charles Newland - Owner, Alvin Ross – Manager
Irena Newland - Marketing Director
Newlands Lodge, Float Trips & Conference Center
295 River Road Lakeview Arkansas 72642
(800) 334-5604 (870) 431-5678/5604/8626(fax)
I received a response (through my elected Federal representatives) from the Corps, which is as follows:
The following is provided in response to your letter dated May 15, 2009, on
behalf of Mr. Charles Newland, owner of Newlands Lodge, Float trips &
Conference Center, Inc., regarding the White River lake operations during
the Spring 2008 flood.
During the spring floods of 2008 the White River Lakes were operated as
designed and intended according to the approved water control plan that
addresses all of the users in the White River basin. This plan had been
strictly followed in the weeks prior to the unprecedented and record
breaking rainfall that was experienced in March and April. The releases,
though significant, were well within the operating limits of each dam and
may again be experienced in the future.
Flood damage reduction lakes work by capturing and holding upstream runoff
during heavy rain. After rivers downstream begin receding, water is released
in a controlled fashion following pre-determined plans. Without the lakes,
all that water would roll downriver at one time. Flood crests would rise
higher and spread over more land, thus causing more damage and possibly loss
of life. Thus, it was by "allowing all the lakes to become full at the same
time" that the "flood control" was provided. Downstream river stages were
reduced during each rainfall event that contributed runoff into the lakes as
they were filled. In fact, although there were several events for which the
projects provided significant stage reductions in 2008, the maximum stage
reductions provided were 21.5 feet at Calico Rock, 13.2 feet at Batesville,
9.1 feet at Newport, and 5.3 feet at Georgetown. If that runoff had not been
captured in the lakes, the significant flood stage reductions downstream
would not have been provided.
The difficulty with repeated rains, as was the case in spring 2008, is water
control engineers are unable to release all captured water between rains. As
reported by the National Weather Service, as much as 6-months rainfall
occurred in a 6-week period. This excessive rainfall in such a short
timeframe did not allow the rivers to naturally recede so that flood control
releases could be made. This caused lake levels to rise with each new
rainfall. However, the lakes are not intended to and cannot prevent all
flooding. Some people think they are fully protected downstream of a big
dam. Not so. The lakes have capacity limitations that Mother Nature can
exceed, and from time to time, she does.
Even though the White River lakes reached or exceeded the top of their
respective flood control pools, the lakes continued to reduce flood damages
downstream. With the lakes full, they provided the maximum benefit for which
they were designed. Mr. Newland's assertion that it was as if the dams are
not there, is a statement that was made during last year's event that he has
taken out of context. The context of the statement was that because of the
record-breaking and unprecedented rainfall that occurred, the lakes provided
flood reduction benefits until their capacity to do so was exceeded. At that
point, when the flood storage capacity of a lake is exceeded, it is almost
as if the dam isn't there. However, the largest release made from each lake
was still less than the amount of the inflow coming into the lake. By
raising the spillway gates, a temporary storage of flood waters was induced
that lessened the peak flow that otherwise would have occurred.
There is no magic number of feet below the top of the spillway gates to
designate for a semi-emergency operations plan as Mr. Newland proposed. It
would be almost impossible to decide how many feet below the gates would be
enough to provide the storage capacity to hold an amount of runoff from an
unknown amount of future rainfall. In other words, rainfall forecasts are
not accurate enough to second-guess how much storage would be needed. In
addition, a "non-damaging release" is not meaningful because if the channel
capacity was available without causing damages we would already be making
those releases. Therefore, such a plan is not within the authority of the
Corps of Engineers for these lakes. The tops of the gates and respective
flood control pools were established based upon extensive engineering
analysis that incorporated a gate operation plan. Making any change to the
flood control pool elevation or to the water control plan would require
engineering, environmental, and economic analysis of the entire White River
basin to identify benefits gained or adverse impacts created. Many of these
concepts have been studied throughout the years and have proven to be less
optimal plans. The current water control plan, although admittedly not the
best for any single user or stakeholder group, was developed with input from
the diverse stakeholders in the 28,000 square mile White River Basin and is
considered to fairly distribute the benefits and the adverse impacts across
the entire basin.
The excessive rainfall in February, March and April 2008, was significantly
above average for all of the White River Lakes and was the cause of the
flooding that occurred. The Corps of Engineers followed the approved water
control plan to make decisions to release water from its dams. At times,
these releases were greater than the releases to which the public is
accustomed, but those large releases were within the limits of the water
control plan. Had these dams not been in place, flooding would have been
much more severe and damage much greater. Those who chose to live and
operate a business in the reach downstream from a dam must accept personal
risk for doing so and must understand at times their livelihoods will be
interrupted by the operations of these dams. This applies equally to famers,
home owners, business owners, concessionaires, and to other users of the
We hope that this will help answer your constituent's concerns about the
operation of the White River system. Copies of this letter are being
furnished to Mr. Jim Sandberg, Table Rock Lake Operations Manager, 4600
State Highway 165, Branson, Missouri 65616-8980; Mr. Tracy Fancher, Bull
Shoals Lake Operations Manager, 2737 Powerhouse Road, Lakeview, Arkansas
72642; and Mr. Sean Harper, Beaver Lake Operations Manager, 2260 North
Second Street, Rogers, Arkansas 72756-2439
Donald E. Jackson, Jr. Colonel, US Army District Engineer