By Chris Edwards
DAM B – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced last week that it will commit a near-complete drawdown of B.A. Steinhagen Lake for needed repairs.
The repairs, according to the USACE (Fort Worth District Water Management), must be done to the Robert D. Willis Powerhouse. The drawdown began on Monday, and the target elevation is 58 feet above mean sea level (msl) by Monday, July 17. The lake’s normal elevation is 82.5 feet above msl. According to the timetable provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level should be back at its normal elevation by early August.
Although the schedule calls for the lake to begin filling up by July 26, the “rate of rise will depend on inflow from the Neches River, Sam Rayburn Dam releases on the Angelina River through hydropower
generation, and what the downstream flow requirements are at that time,” according to a statement from the USACE.
The drawdown will eliminate access to the lake, as all of the boat ramps will be dry. The USACE estimated the repair work to take from three to 10 days, all depending on the conditions at the site and the weather.
A statement from USACE noted that “every effort will be made to return the lake to a usable elevation as quickly as possible.”
All of the public access to the east end day use area, the Town Bluff Dam spillway, fishing platforms at the powerhouse and the east side of the floodgates will be closed.
Another factor in the returning levels of the lake are water requirements from the Lower Neches Valley Authority, which will partially dictate the Town Bluff dam’s release rate.
According to USACE, the public access should be restored in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The last time Steinhagen was drained for repair work was in the summer of 2019, when repairs were made to the spillway.