Army Corps Alters Saylorville Lake Operations in Anticipation of Spring Flooding

Published March 5, 2010

JOHNSTON, Iowa – In preparation for the National Weather Service’s high probability forecast for spring 2010 flooding due to snowmelt and rainfall runoff, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a temporary, minor deviation from the authorized Saylorville Lake Regulation Plan.


The deviation, as requested by the City of Des Moines, Iowa, assists in conserving flood storage capacity in the lake.  The deviation permits operating the lake to control for a stage of 26 feet at the S.E. 6th Street gage in Des Moines, an increase of two feet above the authorized control stage of 24 feet.  As conditions permit, the deviation allows higher outflows between March 8 and April 20 to keep the lake at its lowest possible level without causing additional flood damages downstream.


The deviation will increase Lake Red Rock inflows and may impact outflows; however, Lake Red Rock releases will not be increased above the regulated, non-damaging, maximum outflows.  If necessary, maintaining the tandem operation of Saylorville and Red Rock lakes’ pools will supersede the temporary deviation.


Saylorville Lake’s pool elevation is being maintained at the normal conservation pool level of 836 feet.  The conservation pool occupies approximately 11.5 percent of Saylorville Lake's total storage capacity.   The conservation pool consists of approximately 73,600 acre feet of water (23.9 billion U.S. gallons) that must be maintained for authorized project purposes to include providing state-contracted water supply.


Flood storage above the conservation pool to the full 890-foot flood storage pool elevation occupies 88.5 percent of Saylorville Lake’s total storage capacity.  The flood storage pool consists of approximately 567,400 acre feet of water (184.8 billion U.S. gallons).


Reducing the lake’s conservation pool does not provide significant flood storage capacity.  The 73,600 acre feet in the conservation pool would fill in 12 to 18 hours at the maximum inflow rates experienced in 2008.  Additionally, drastically lowering the pool in the spring would result in bank sloughing and increase the risk for fish kills and significant ice jams at the controlling works which could prevent the efficient release of flood waters and cause the pool to rise more rapidly.


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For more information contact:


Saylorville Lake Deviation: Tom Heinold, Flood Area Engineer, Des Moines area, (309) 794-5203,


Saylorville Lake Operations: Jeff Rose, Operations Manager, (515) 276-4656 x6504,


Lake Red Rock Operations: John Holt, Assistant Operations Manager, (641) 828-7522 x6404,


General Corps of Engineers Information: Ron Fournier, Corporate Communications, (309) 794-5274,

Release no. 10-03-16