July 3, 2007

Lakes Grapevine and Worth Are in the Worst Shape

By Bill Teeter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

Jul. 3--GRAPEVINE -- There's been so much rain that even boaters are being inconvenienced.

At Lake Grapevine, every boat ramp is closed because of high water. And campsites have been shut down.

Lake Worth was off-limits to boaters and swimmers Monday because of high water and floating debris.

At other area lakes, officials report no problems. But many agree it's been an interesting summer.

"We found a [ceramic] lamp floating in there the other day," said Alan Smith, of the Lake Patrol at Lake Worth.

Remember the drought?

Six months ago a regional drought shrank area lakes, shutting down public boat ramps one by one as water fell below the end of the concrete.

This year, Grapevine officials were breathing a sigh of relief when they opened their first high-water ramp about two months ago to help boaters launch their craft even when high water was cresting the shores. Now that ramp, at Katie's Woods park, is closed, along with 10 other city ramps.

At the Vineyards Campground, which underwent a major renovation last year, all but one recreational vehicle was out by Monday after the lake level exceeded 550 feet above sea level; the normal level is 535 feet. Five portable cabins that the city rents out were being rigged for moving as the water crept closer.

Boaters who have a spot at a marina should consider themselves lucky.

"If people have boats at a slip in one of the marinas, they will be able to get on the lake," said Joe Moore, the city's assistant director of parks and recreation.

At Lake Worth, officials will assess conditions daily to determine when the lake can reopen. No damaged boats have been reported, said Smith, a city deputy marshal.

Farther north, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was predicting that Lake Texoma would rise 6 more feet by July 10, bringing it to its highest level in more than a decade. It was unclear whether that water was going to cause problems downstream along the Red River, corps spokesman Ross Adkins said.

"This is very unusual," said Adkins, who works in the corps' Tulsa office. "Usually you have flooding in one basin or the other, but to have it all over Oklahoma and a large portion of Texas at the same time is almost unprecedented. It's the first time I've seen it in my 20 years with the corps."

Some sunny spots

Other lakes were weathering the rain just fine Monday. Lake Arlington's two parks and boat ramps were up and running, said Michael Debrecht, Arlington's lake supervisor. At Possum Kingdom Reservoir, which is under the control of the Brazos River Authority, floodgates were open for days, and its level was below normal Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. All public boat ramps and parks were open, said Judi Pierce, an authority spokeswoman. But the lake is hazardous because of floating debris, so boaters need to keep a sharp eye out, she said.

If the rain stops soon, it will still be four to six weeks before the Vineyards campground in Grapevine dries out and can be cleaned up, Moore said. Last July, not long after the campground reopened from its renovation, the campground brought in $44,000 while only 61 percent full. The city was hoping for a lot of return business, Moore said.

The Army Corps of Engineers controls Lake Grapevine's water releases, and the corps had no plans for extra releases because of flooding downstream, said Judy Marsicano, a corps spokeswoman. Although the waterway is used for recreation and drinking water, its primary purpose is flood control, she said.

Staff writers Mark Agee, Bill Hanna and Leslie Wimmer contributed to this report.

Lake levels and boat ramp closings

Levels are in feet above sea level.

1. Lake Arlington

Lake level: 552.50

Normal lake level: 550

All ramps open

2. Lake Bridgeport

Lake level: 838.29

Normal lake level: 836

Three of four public ramps open; U.S. 380 bridge ramp was closed

3. Lake Grapevine

Lake level: 551.81

Normal lake level: 535

All public ramps closed

4. Eagle Mountain Lake

Lake level: 649

Normal lake level: 649

All ramps open

5. Lake Worth

Lake level: 595.90

Normal lake level: 594

All three public parks closed

6. Benbrook Lake

Lake level: 704.60

Normal lake level: 694

Ramps closed throughout the lake; visit tinyurl.com/2kby53 (the Army Corps of Engineers) for more information

7. Joe Pool Lake

Lake level: 525

Normal lake level: 522

All ramps open

8. Lewisville Lake

Lake level: 532.69

Normal lake level: 522

Ramps closed throughout the lake; visit tinyurl.com/2kby53 for more information

9. Possum Kingdom Lake

Lake level: 998.74

Normal lake level: 1,000

All boat ramps and public parks open


Bill Teeter, 817-358-1514 [email protected]


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