December 31 marked the end of the four-year drawdown on Lake D’Arbonne. Typically the drawdown takes the lake down to 75 feet and it slowly fills back up to pool stage of 80 feet or full pool at 81. Things happened a little quicker this time.
“Both gates are open at 6 feet at the moment,” said Lake Commission President Jake Halley. “But flood control measure have been put into place at this point, because right near the end of the drawdown we experienced a 6-inch-plus rainfall event that caused the lake to jump, roughly, 6 feet in a couple days.”
The gates are supposed to be closed at the end of the drawdown, but the National Weather Service came out with a forecasted crest during the high-water rise, which hit the Commission’s action stage mark of 82.25 feet. “That’s why the DOT increased the flow capacity, and the gates will remain open until the lake falls back to 80.5 feet,” Halley said.
The Commission had projects it needed to complete while the water was down and the majority of those were taken care of. “We did pretty much everything we had planned as far as ramp maintenance and cleaning up some of the boat launch areas,” Halley said.
“We got most of the work we intended to do completed. The drawdown was a battle this time because Mother Nature did not cooperate. Unfortunately pretty much every rainfall event we had occurred in the northwest portion of our drainage area. It was a struggle all around, but considering the year we had with everything else, it was about as successful as we could have hoped for.”
Part of the reason the drawdown was extended from its original end date of November 15 was so that Wildlife and Fisheries could accomplish more with the control of vegetation around the lake. “They felt like their goals could be better met extending into late December,” Halley said. “We did have some good cold nights and that freeze helps kill a lot of the vegetation.”
The Lake Commission, DOT and Wildlife and Fisheries will be monitoring the lake levels closely.