LAKE OF THE OZARKS — The Lake of the Ozarks' water level will be dropping soon for the annual winter drawdown, and property and dock owners at Lake of the Ozarks and along the Osage River are encouraged to take action as water levels fluctuate. As Ameren Missouri begins the annual winter draw-down, being prepared helps minimize the overall effects of lower lake levels and cold weather.

Ameren's Guide Curve keeps the water level between 658 and 659 feet of elevation through the month of December, and sets the annual winter drawdown to begin on the first of January. By the end of January, the water level will have dropped about 3.5 feet, typically, with a targeted low level of 654 feet by mid-February. The water level will begin to raise again around April 1, with a target for reaching full pool by Memorial Day weekend.

"Wintery weather conditions, including ice and freezing, pose risks for dock owners both above and below Bagnell Dam," said Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri’s shoreline management supervisor. "To stay informed about changing conditions, dock owners can obtain up-to-date information on lake water levels and river flows either online or by calling our lake level daily report."

Fluctuations in Lake and river levels occur for several reasons. Ameren Missouri generally lowers the water level at the Lake during winter months to about 654 feet above sea level—or six feet below the full reservoir level of 660 feet—to reduce the possibility of flooding during spring rains.The Osage River level also fluctuates when Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam releases water during the draw-down and to meet the demand for electricity.

Hourly information about lake water levels is available at AmerenMissouri.com/Lake. Water levels are also updated daily at 573.365.9205.

Ameren Missouri offers the following tips to help both Lake of the Ozarks and Osage River dock owners prepare for the winter season:

  • Ensure that hinges, pins and other connections linking docks to seawalls or piers have the flexibility to follow water level fluctuations.
  • Lengthen cables to allow docks to drop as the lake or river levels drop.
  • Use a dock deicer to help protect docks from ice damage, be aware that a deicer may not provide protection from large ice sheets and blocks.
  • Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the dock or retain a local dock builder or similar contractor to care for the property when the site is unoccupied.

Below the dam, dock owners are urged to remove docks from the Osage River before freezing occurs.

Bagnell Dam water releases may occur at any time and may result in swift currents and rapidly rising water levels in the Osage River. A warning siren will sound from the dam before generators start and stop.

With proper permits, winter draw-down is a good time to complete shoreline stabilization projects. Shoreline property owners should get their completed applications in now for evaluation prior to the low water season. Rip-rap installation, seawalls and seawall repairs typically take place as lake levels drop and before fish spawning begins in March. More information about shoreline stabilization and permitting forms can be found at AmerenMissouri.com/Lake or by calling our Shoreline office at 573-365-9208.

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 130,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.

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