Bagnell Dam is releasing over 45,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Osage River, in a bid to keep the lake's from flooding in the wake of heavy rains.
Dam engineers say their goal is to keep the lake's water level from going over 100 percent capacity. The dam's gates almost never open, but that was not the case Wednesday, when Ameren decided to open the gates in order to execute a flood control plan.
When Bagnell Dam raises its gates, it raises attention. Crowds of people came to the dam Wednesday to photograph the torrents of water pouring out of the dam's floodgates. Beyond the awesome power of the dam, howrever, is the bigger picture of what's happening.
"The color of the water is definitely a lot different," Said Helicopter Pilot Ryan Madigan. "Flying down the Grand Glaise arm, you could see a murky, muddy color turning into the nice blue color that the lake normally is."
KRCG-13 had a chance to fly over the lake in order to get a better idea of just how badly the flooding is affecting the area. Some of what we saw included areas of the lake which appeared perfectly fine, but other arms of the lake told a completely different story.
The Grand Glaize arm appeared a murky brown color, full of sediment deposited by rivers upstream. This part of the lake also had tons of debris floating in parts of it - logs, downed trees, hay bales, and large slicks of unknown material were some of the things we saw. When the helicopter flew closer to the dam, the water became clearer - the area affected lies mainly in the Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
The water has stabilized thanks to the dam, but the floods will leave behind a mess for property owners. "Behind our house, it's just starting to crest and come over our seawall," said Craig Horstmann, who ownes a home on the lake. "What we're more worried about are all the electrical cables that come off the shore, under the ramps of the boat docks, because those ramps don't move... another 10 or 12 inches of water, and we could see a lot of downed electrical cables."
Engineers plan to keep the gates open as long as it takes to prevent the waters from rising. With more rain predicted, no on is sure how long that will be.