News: Corps conducts environment release at Lake O’ the Pines
Story by Randy Cephus
JEFFERSON, Texas - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, will conduct an environmental pulse release from Jan. 20-23 at Lake O’ the Pines near Jefferson, Texas, as a part of the ongoing Big Cypress Bayou riverine environmental enhancement pilot project.
The planned pulse release is designed to simulate a low level rise in stream flow representative of natural runoff that might have occurred three to five times a year, on average, before the reservoir was built.
Although the release will not exactly replicate an event of similar magnitude that might have occurred before the reservoir was built, it will provide a sound basis for studying the effects of such an event on the downstream riverine environment.
“Construction of Lake O’ the Pines, and subsequent operation in the interest of flood risk management and water supply necessarily altered the natural flow regime of Big Cypress Bayou downstream of the project,” said Fort Worth District environmental planner, Marcia Hackett.
The Corps and its partners will use data collected before, during, and after the pulse release to assess the downstream environmental effects of the event.
“We don’t anticipate any concerns for local residents, as the maximum flow rate will not exceed about 1,500 cubic feet per second,” said Hackett. “Additionally, this is a controlled event where flows can easily be decreased if problems occur.”
The team hopes the event will benefit the paddle fish, a species once prominent in the area, but now listed as a threatened species.
According to volunteer, Paul Rodman, the pulse release will also benefit mussels, clams, and migratory birds; plus will provide the added benefit of flushing contaminants that may have built up over time.
Project partners include the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District, the Nature Conservatory and the Caddo Lake Institute. Also represented in the partnership as a result of funding from the Corps are the U.S. Geological Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.