Heavy rain in the watersheds of W. Kerr Scott Reservoir and efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent flooding downstream resulted in the lake level reaching a new record high early Monday morning.
The old record high level of 1,061.2 feet above sea level was set in November 1977. The lake level was still rising late Monday afternoon and by 4:45 p.m. was at 1,062.52 feet above sea level. W. Kerr Scott Reservoir’s normal “pool” (water level), is 1,030 feet above sea level.
Lisa Parker, a spokesman for the Wilmington District office of the Corps of Engineers in Wilmington, said the reservoir level was expected to peak sometime Tuesday between 1,064 and 1,065 feet above sea level, depending on any additional rainfall.
The Corps began gradually increasing releases of water from W. Kerr Scott Dam on Monday. Parker said water was being released from at a rate of 2,500 to 3,500 cubic feet per second (CFS) Monday and was expected to exceed 5,000 CFS on Tuesday as risks of flooding downstream decreased.
“The flood pool is operating as designed to prevent flooding downstream of the reservoir,” she said.
“Now that downstream river levels have receded, we were able to begin gradually ramping up releases this (Monday) morning in a controlled manner. Releases are expected to remain high through most of next week as we draw down the flood pool and return to normal lake levels.”
Parker said docks and other structures are being impacted by the higher elevations. “It is unfortunate that the higher elevations are impacting recreation, but the Corps’ number one priority is flood control,” she said.
Mountain bike trails, swimming areas and most other recreational areas along the reservoir are closed due to the high water level.
W. Kerr Scott has 45 vertical feet of dedicated flood storage, from elevations of 1,030 to 1,075 feet above sea level.