MAYFLOWER – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will open all operational gates at Lake Conway Dam Wednesday as previously planned and announced. The opening of the gates will allow the lake to drain faster in preparation for the lake restoration project announced last June.
Nick Feltz, AGFC fisheries supervisor at the agency’s Mayflower office, says the lake has seen a slow release using only one to two open gates since Sept. 1.
“We needed to release the water slowly this summer to prevent flooding bottomland hardwood trees in Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area downstream of the dam during the growing season,” Feltz said.
The lake has already fallen nearly 3.5 feet since the first gate was opened Sept. 1, and it is expected to drop another 2 feet much more rapidly with the opening of all gates.
“The lowest level the lake will reach from the gates being opened is approximately 257 feet above sea level, about 6 feet below normal pool,” Feltz said. “There will still be a lot of surface water on the lake at this level, but the AGFC does not plan any additional actions to lower the water level below this point until late winter or early spring.”
The AGFC announced the renovation of Lake Conway June 15 at a special press conference at the Pierce Creek Access to the lake in Mayflower. The lake, which is 75 years old, is in need of major infrastructure repairs and enhancements to boat lanes, fishing facilities and access points. Additionally, up to 3 feet of silt has filled in the lake bottom. This byproduct of aging in fertile lakes has smothered much of the lake’s prime fish spawning habitat. Many boat house owners in the northern quarter of the lake also cannot access their boathouse by water any longer because of this buildup. The lake will remain drained for up to 5 years to complete these projects and to allow the silt to compact on the lakebed and regain some of the depth lost since the lake’s impoundment.
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