Canyon Lake level returns to normal

By Times Guardian Staff

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District Reservoir Control Office, the level of Canyon Lake has returned to near normal.

On Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, the lake was at 910.18 feet above mean sea level. The normal level is 909.00 feet above mean sea level. That is good news for businesses in and around the lake.

The road to Canyon Lake Marina and Papa Docks Cafe, which had been submerged earlier in the month, opened on Thursday, December 16. Both the restaurant and the marina were open and experiencing good business according to their owners.

Most if not all of the Comal County boat launches were open. However, several of the Corps of Engineers boat launches and campgrounds remain closed due to the accumulation of debris from the recent flooding.

The 8,240-acre reservoir turned 40 this year (Canyon Lake was completed in 1974.) Since the normal conservation pool level of the lake is 909 ft above mean sea level (msl) and the uncontrolled spillway's elevation is 943 ft msl, Canyon Lake is able to store up to 34 feet of flood water in the lake to protect downstream areas.

During October and through mid-November, upstream rains raised the lake level to 921ft msl and higher than normal releases were occurring up until November 20. The rains were not over yet and on Sunday, November 21 heavy rains had caused downstream areas to begin flooding.

That's when the COE was forced to reduce the outflow and consequently the lake level reached nearly 928 ft. msl, some 29 ft. over normal, but still 15 ft below the uncontrolled spillway's elevation.

The recent flooding forced the COE to open the dam outflow to around 5000 cubic feet per second. That flow affected the river downstream, especially the stocking of rainbow trout by the state in the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam, where consistently cold water provides habitat for the rainbows.

This year the Guadalupe tailrace rainbow stocking was delayed because of the continuing high-volume discharge of water through Canyon Lake dam.

The heavy rains have kept the lake full and the high volume of runoff into the lake has raised the temperature of the water in the tailrace higher than considered acceptable for rainbows.

Now the annual stocking of the Guadalupe tailrace and the river 10 miles downstream is scheduled for Jan. 21. About 18,000 rainbows will be stocked in the Guadalupe by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Some areas of the river are open only to artificial lure anglers, but the tailrace and several stretches are open to all forms of fishing.

The fears of another event similar to the "Flood of 2002" were put to rest when the rains stopped and the dam outflow was increased.

With the annual arrival of "Winter Texans" beginning Thanksgiving weekend and lasting through Easter weekend, Canyon Lake and Guadalupe River businesses that cater to them surely breathed a collective sigh of relief. Higher than normal temperatures were forecast for the coming week.

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