EUDORA – Anglers and residents near Grand Lake in Chicot County can expect a little more stability in the lake’s water level, thanks to the installation of a new weir in the drainage on the Northwest side of the lake, which was completed Jan. 24.
The lake’s normal water level, set by court order in 1964, is 104 feet above mean sea level. However, occasionally during very heavy rains, the drainage canal that allows excess water to flow out of the lake could not receive the discharge quickly enough, causing the lake level to rise.
“The lake sometimes flooded the surroundings,” said Mike Sundberg, assistant fisheries biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Monticello. “That flooding contributed to bank erosion around parts of the lake.”
The canal is regulated by a small dam, called a weir, that holds water to a certain level, then allows it to flow out once the level tops its peak.
“The previous weir that was constructed in 2005 was overwhelmed by large flood events we have seen in the last decade,” Sundberg said. “We have replaced it with a new weir that is twice as wide, which will allow more water to flow over it whenever extreme floods happen again.”
Construction of the weir was done by the AGFC and partially funded by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
“We built the new weir behind the old one, so there was no need for a drawdown,” Sundberg said. So anglers and residents never missed any opportunities to fish or boat while the project was being completed.
Sundberg says that the new weir also contains a gated 36-inch pipe at its base to aid in even faster drainage when such floods are anticipated.
“This new drainage structure enables us to pull water even faster off of the lake, and draw it down further if that ever becomes necessary,” Sundberg said. “This will help with our goal of managing the water level for the best fishing opportunities without negatively impacting lakeshore property.”