LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — The annual Lake of the Ozarks winter drawdown will begin soon, and Lakefront home and dock owners should be aware of a few things.
Ameren owns and operates Bagnell Dam, and regulates the Lake level throughout the year, in cooperation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE). The utilities company drops the Lake level by about 6 feet during the winter in anticipation of spring rains, which can fill the Lake quickly. During the winter months, the water level at the Lake is lowered to the 654 mark. Dock owners and residents can visit AmerenMissouri.com/Lake to view the guide curve, which is a series of target water levels over the course of the year.
As of Dec. 22, the Lake is already down by about 1.3 feet from its normal summer full-pool level, with the water level measuring at 658.7 feet of elevation on Tuesday afternoon.
“This year, we have many new residents at the Lake who haven’t experienced our winter drawdown before, and we want to make sure they are prepared for the drawdown process,” said Travis Hart, interim operations manager at Ameren Missouri's Osage Energy Center. “During this time, the Lake and Osage River levels will fluctuate as the Bagnell Dam releases more water, and we want everyone to be aware of these changing conditions, so they can avoid damage to their property.”
Dock owners in shallow coves should be prepared, as many return to their Lake home in February or March to discover their dock is sitting on dry ground. Shelby Burns, of Rough Water Docks, said it's not necessarily bad for a dock to be resting on the Lake floor, if it's not a rocky area. But that doesn't mean there aren't some things to take care of before the water level drops.
Ameren Missouri offers the following tips to help both Lake of the Ozarks and Osage River dock owners prepare for the drawdown and winter season:
- Below the dam, docks should be removed from the Osage River before freezing occurs.
- 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.
Now is also a good time for riprap installation, seawall construction and seawall repairs, as lake levels drop and before fish spawning begins in March. Shoreline property owners should submit their permit applications for evaluation as soon as possible. Permitting forms and more information about shoreline stabilization can be found at AmerenMissouri.com/Lake or by calling the Shoreline office at 573.365.9208.
Bagnell Dam water releases can occur at any time. To ensure everyone’s safety, a warning siren will sound from the dam before generators start and stop. Dock owners can obtain up-to-date information on lake water levels and river flows online at AmerenMissouri.com/Lake or by calling for the Lake level daily report at 573.365.9205.
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About Ameren & Bagnell Dam
Bagnell Dam holds back water from the Osage River to create Lake of the Ozarks. This stored water fuels Ameren Missouri’s Osage Energy Center, which provides clean energy to Missouri electric customers. Continued investment in hydro-powered energy, along with expanded wind and solar generation, will be an important part of enabling Ameren Missouri to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
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 132,000 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 on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.