No decision made yet on reservoir water levels


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still considering a request from communities downstream from the Patoka Lake Reservoir to release excess water from the reservoir now, before spring rains come and add more water.

“It is currently under review,” corps spokeswoman Katie Newton wrote to The Herald Thursday. “A final determination has not yet been made.”

Farmers, businesses and members of the community have appealed to the agency to release some of the water now. They are concerned about the excess water that has already filled the reservoir and is being held. They do not want a repeat of the flooding areas suffered in 2011.

Releasing some of that water now is better than having to deal with the massive amount of stored water along with spring rains.

“It’s already at a high level. If we get another rainy season and the lake is at a high level and they need to start releasing more, that is going to affect us,” Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner said. “So bring that level down now, before the farming season starts. You don’t want to bring it down when the farming season starts, because that will flood all the fields.”

Huntingburg is currently studying flooding issues and looking for solutions.

“There is a floodplain completely around our community,” Spinner said. “Part of the issue is how quickly water moves away from Huntingburg if we get it in the proper channel. Patoka River is one of those tributaries we dump into.”

Various creeks, like Hunley Creek and Ell Creek, on the north side of the city feed into the river.

“So if Patoka River is high, and we have a major rain event, it will affect us,” Spinner said. “The water from those creeks will back up.”

There is also more danger of Old Huntingburg Road flooding, which the road is prone to do already. “There are people who drive that road,” Spinner said. “So we just need to be aware of that.”

Local municipalities, along with county officials, area farmers and the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have requested that more water be released now, which would deviate from the Corps’ standard water discharge methods. The manual for water control for reservoirs is under the U.S. Congress’ jurisdiction. The Corps is looking to get approval to allow for the temporary deviation from the manual.

As of now, everyone is waiting for an answer to the request.

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