Ameren speaks property floating away due to opened floodgates

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LAKE OZARK - Lake of the Ozarks residents in Miller County, near Camden County, were upset Tuesday after some of their docks floated away. It came after Ameren opened the Bagnell Dam floodgates due to heavy rain showers Saturday. Reactions could be seen on Facebook as "Lake of the Ozarks" topped trending searches Monday. 

One person posted, saying, "There goes a lot of money floating down the lake." 

Another commenter said, "Let me get this straight. You expect us to believe that letting more water flow into the river reduces flooding? For whom? The people with luxury summer homes around the lake, maybe. The working people who live in riverfront towns downstream, not on your life. What a bunch of propaganda and just plain bull."

Dennis Welch, a Camden County resident, expressed his anger toward Ameren on its decision releasing the floodgates. He stood outside for three hours Monday morning and said the water only went down by one inch. 

"And they're claiming they got all the gates open," Welch said. "Which, they may have by now, but there's so much backwater and it rose four and a half foot, so, down on this end of the lake, if they say they're holding it at 663 [feet], it might be 666 [feet] down here 'til it catches up." 

Warren Witt, Director of Hydro Operations for Ameren Missouri, said we [Missouri] were dealing with significant flooding. 

"We're sadden by people losing their docks and property," Witt said. "We're upset, but we have a compliance [with] Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to follow our federal license [requirements]."

Witt said he believes the floodgates will close in about one to two weeks, depending on the forecast. He also said four factors play into the opening and closing of the floodgates. Those factors include the weather, Truman Lake levels, Missouri lake levels, and Lake of the Ozarks levels. 

No specific date has been set to close floodgates. 

"We try to balance the interests of lake property owners, Osage River property owners and Missouri River property owners," Witt said. "It's pretty rare we're seeing this in the winter, usually it's more of a drought. We usually see low flows than high flows." 

Ameren Missouri is not allowed to open flood gates too soon, because it would flood homes and property on the Osage River. 

Witt said 660 feet is the number Ameren Missouri uses to determine lake levels and flood stages. Over the weekend, the director said Lake of the Ozark levels are at 661.5 feet and rising. The lake's level stood at 659.55 feet at 5 p.m Saturday, about a half-foot below flood stage. 

"If rain continues as forecast, the lake will be above the levels that we reached this summer," Witt said. "As always, we will continue to monitor lake levels and take appropriate actions as need and keep the public informed." 

[Photo and video courtesy of 417 Drone Imaging]