Flood gates still open on Blackshear - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Flood gates still open on Blackshear

CRISP CO., GA (WALB) -

The flood gates at Lake Blackshear remain open as officials try and control water levels as much as possible. All 13 gates are only opened once every 10 or 15 years.

The Crisp County Power Commission began the process of closing the gates Tuesday, but it may be as many as 10 days before they're all closed.

Their proactive decision to open them this weekend saved damage in several South Georgia cities.

The Flint River is expected to crest in Albany Tuesday night around midnight at about 30.5 feet. Had those gates not been open, water could be filling up the river right now much more rapidly.

About 45,000 cubic feet of water per second continues pouring through the Lake Blackshear Dam flood gates heading downstream towards Albany.

On the north end of the lake, it's flowing in at about 55,000 cubic feet per second. Until that ratio is better, the gates will stay open.

"When we see that it's stabilized on the northern end of the lake, we will begin closing gates but it will not be a very rapid process," said Crisp County Power Commission General Manager Steve Rentfrow.

Water at the dam is actually just below normal. It's actually 8 feet above normal all the way at the north end. It is 4 feet above normal at Camper’s Haven and a little above normal at the 280 bridge. Rentfrow said you should picture the lake levels like a slope from the north where they're higher, all the way to the south end where they're actually below normal.

"The lake is 20 miles long, so conditions are very different depending on where you are on the lake," said Rentfrow.

The flow coming from the flood gates is leading to some flooding in Albany, but the damage would be much worse had the gates not been opened earlier this week.

"We try and release early when it doesn't cause any damage as opposed to now, when if there was more water downstream with the crest, it'd be even worse downstream than it is right now," said Rentfrow.

As the river begins to crest, the process of closing gates begins.

"We'll start out by closing a part of one gate, and see how that reacts. And then as the flows, gradually diminish, we'll continue closing gates until we can get down to back to normal conditions," said Rentfrow.

It’s a process that could take nearly two weeks. Rentfrow reminds people to also stay off the river and lake until conditions return closer to normal.

The Flint crested in Montezuma about 36 hours ago and has only gone down 1 foot so there is still a lot of water left to make its way down here. The water you see at the dam on Blackshear will be in Albany in about 18 hours.

Copyright  2015 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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