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Army Corps of Engineers explains why water levels are still high

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 19:49:19-04

TULSA — Deputy Chief Preston Chasteen from the Army Corps of Engineers say water levels are a delicate balance.

There are a lot of factors they consider before each release.

"Kansas received the most rain in any May since they've been keeping a record in the past 125 years, so as you might imagine all of our reservoirs were significantly full in the flood storage area," Chasteen said.

Deputy Chief Chasteen says, most rivers and lakes flow into each other.

He believes it's important to not release too much water from one lake because it could negatively impact the downstream lakes..

"We have a limited amount of capacity downstream. We have a responsibility to lower those reservoirs equally across the system without overwhelming the downstream channel," Chaseen said.

Chasteen tells me some lakes have the capacity to hold more water than others.

So, when they release a lot of water from larger lakes, smaller lakes and rivers can still be high.

He says as long as they stay around the 50 percent flood storage range, they both balance out on a larger scale

"At 50 percent flood storage, the feet will be very different, maybe 19 feet at one reservoir and maybe 8 feet at another reservoir but they are both at 50 percent," Chasteen said.

Hydrologist David Williams says the Tulsa area has had a record amount of rain and flooding.

He says when each lake reached its flood storage capacity, they did their best to release a safe amount of water without causing another area more damage.

"During the month of may, 8.3 million acre feet of water flowed into keystone lake. that's a lot of water. and what is an acre foot, that's when you take an acre of land and put one foot of water on that acre that's one acre foot," Williams said.

Williams says the amount of water flowing into Keytsone this may was nearly twice as much as the flood of 19-86.

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