Record rains in 2015 have nearly pushed TRWD’s reservoirs to their limits three times during the last six months.
Managing those rapidly rising flood waters in and around our lakes is one of the district’s top priorities. In fact, the district has a designated flood team that works 24/7 to monitor rainfall and inflows and manage reservoir releases until there is no longer a threat around the reservoirs.
“This has been a challenging year having to manage three separate and very different flood events,” said Rachel Ickert, TRWD’s water resource engineering director. “But our staff stepped up, as they always do, and did an excellent job of minimizing the impacts on the public and the areas around the lake.”
The district uses an intricate modeling software program and real-time information from water gauges on streams and at the reservoirs to make decisions about how much water to release or hold at each lake. Conditions can change quickly, so having the most up-to-date information is imperative to the staff making those important decisions. The team also has access to several district employees who have worked flood events in years past. Their expertise in these situations is “invaluable” according to Ickert.
Another important aspect of the district’s flood operations is the collaboration between TRWD’s employees at each reservoir and along the floodway. Working in conjunction with the other members of the team who are monitoring conditions and running models, they open and close the spillway gates at the lakes and monitor and operate other structures that are essential to managing the flood waters. These dedicated employees work all hours of the day, sometimes in unpleasant conditions, and are always on standby to make the needed changes to the spillway structures.
A strong El Niño weather pattern is expected to bring above-average rainfall through this spring, and lakes are already full. The North Texas area may experience more flooding conditions sometime in the coming months.
And if that happens, Ickert said TRWD will stand ready, as they always do.
“Our staff knows the public is depending on us during those situations, and that’s when we are at our best,” she said.