Every four years Lake D’Arbonne goes through a drawdown, lowering the water in the lake in order to facilitate construction and/or repairs to docks and seawalls by property owners, as well as help with aquatic vegetation control. Tuesday marked the official start of the drawdown.
Just prior to the recent storm, Hurricane Laura, that hit southwest Louisiana and worked its way through Union Parish, the Bayou D’Arbonne Lake Watershed District Commission decided to raise one of the Tainter gates to 2 feet in order to provide relief from the predicted 6-8 inches of rainfall. The gate has remained opened at this level.
As of Tuesday morning the lake level was 79.6 feet, which is .4 feet below the 80-foot pool stage. The drawdown will continue until the lake reaches a level of 75 feet.
The water is feeding into D’Arbonne Bayou, below the spillway, and once the bayou is charged enough the flow rate can be increased to reach a maximum of 4 inches of drawdown per day, per Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) guidelines.
Commission President Jake Halley said the main concerns are “boaters need to be careful, even in boating lanes, because new obstacles that can damage boats tend to emerge when the water is lowered.”
Another concern is for the fishery itself. “Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LADWF) uses this time to work on the vegetation for spawning purposes. Also we know it can be easier to catch more fish when they congregate to smaller areas,” said Halley Since the drawdown is in effect, all commercial fishing activities must cease. “LADWF enforcement activities will increase on the lake to make sure all creel limits are adhered to, to maintain the integrity of the fishery.”
Halley said the Commission will also use that time to check all of the public ramps and docks for needed repairs.
The drawdown is scheduled to end November 15, but that could change depending on how long the lake takes to drain to 75 feet and what the conditions are during that time.