In response to historically high water levels on the lower Ohio River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Pittsburgh has made the decision to retain water behind its dams until flooding in Huntington, West Virginia begins to subside. As of this morning, the district reduced the dam flow from 47,000 to 10,000 cubic feet per second while using available flood storing capacity to hold excess water.
Jeff Hawk of the USACE Pittsburgh District says the water levels downstream have reached historic rates and every tenth of an inch of water downstream could be costly.
“We have one of our senior leaders down at ground zero down there and he is telling us that this is the highest water those levies have seen down there since they were constructed in the late 1920’s” Hawk says.
The Army Corps of Engineers is constantly monitoring the National Weather Service for the potential of more rain, and Hawk explains that these high water levels may take a while to subside.
“This is our wet period. The weather service tells us we’re in a pattern of storms that just keeps cycling through,” Hawk says. “Typically we start to get dryer at this point and we’re struggling at some lakes to reach what we call our summer pool. So yeah, this is unusual. If this cycle of storms continues then we’ll have to continue dealing with high water.”
Hawk says our region can handle the extra water to help those downstream, but many local recreational areas may experience flooding so visitors should call before making a trip.