Dr. James Robert Michael met with United States Geological Survey Supervisory
Dr. James Robert Michael met with United States Geological Survey Supervisory (USGS) Hydrologist Ben McGee and LSU AgCenter’s Water Resource Specialist, Biological & Agricultural Engineering representative Dr. Bill Branch in Ruston Thursday, July 29th at the USGS office. The topic of discussion at the meeting was the dam for the proposed Flat Lick Lake. Ben McGee, Webster Parish Police Juror, Sparta Commissioner and co-author of the Sparta Recharge/Retirement Development initiative Herb Byars, Dr. James R. Michael, Dr. Bill Branch and Lake Claiborne Volunteer Commissioner Dr. Alice Stewart studied a contour map to decide upon the best location for the dam. The lake currently has a proposed 250-foot contour, which would make the dam approximately 50 feet tall. The experts told Dr. Michael that the water shed would determine the exact depth and size of the lake.
Dr. Michael wanted to get input from the organizations to get plans started for the proposed Flat Lick Lake damn. Dr. Branch said that they would assist in the layout of the lake if the committee would provide him with the proposed dam location. He said that all you had to do was take the damn location and the estimated contour height and the lake would lay itself out.
Branch stated that if he remembered correctly there was a 70 square mile, 40,000 acre watershed in the Flatlick area. Some of the 40,000 acres would not flow into the lake because of the land contour, it would by pass and run away from the lake.
The proposed contour of the lake is to be 250 feet. This would make the damn 50 feet tall.
Some of the 40,000 would not flow into the lake.
Mr. Branch stated that the one concern he had was the size of the damn. If it was too tall it would present a safety hazard for highways and settlements that were downstream to the lake. If something happened that the area would be flooded. Another would be the existing wetlands, but that wetland areas could be traded out.
Mr. Michael said he wanted to get as much as possible in Webster Parish. He said he would gladly pay double the amount for the damn to get more shoreline in Webster Parish. That would help their Economic Development as well.
Herb Byars said that he wanted to see as much as he could in Webster Parish, also, but with the depth as it was proposed it would be deep enough to have a good shoreline in Webster even if the damn height were reduced back to 230 feet, reducing the minimum height of the damn to 30 feet.
Mr. Michael said that at the proposed contour the lake would back all the way up into the Homer Oilfield.
Ben said that having a deeper lake was always good, that during times of drought the lake would not be as apt to dry up and also support fish and wildlife in the lake. He went on to say that it did not matter how deep the lake was planned to be, that the watershed would ultimately determine the size of the lake. The lake could be no larger than the water shed could support.
Ben stated that the topography of the proposed site would already increase the shoreline area.
He said that you could look at Lake Claiborne as a model. There should be about the same refreshment rate and fresh water input as Flat Lick.
More importantly any body of water that was to be built would benefit the Sparta Aquifer.
The Watershed program that the USGA has used for the past fifty years, proposes that there be several small dams built across the tributaries that are coming into the lake to trap silt. This would slow the silt in of the main body of water but would require that the spillways be dredged out periodically to keep them operating proficiently.
Dr. Branch said that the Watershed is already in place for the area in question and can’t be moved or altered. The lake has to be planned around this area.
Dr. Michael stated that he and Ben had discussed at an earlier date about the possibility of building 2 damns. This would allow the upper and lower portions of the lake to both have deep sections. Doing this would increase the cost of the project but would also increase the shoreline, therefore increase the economic return from the lake.
Michael asked Dr. Branch what he thought the next step should be in getting things in gear to get the project underway.
Dr. Branch stated that he would probably get approval from the legislature to build the dam and start gathering core samples.
He asked Dr. Michael if the legislature had been asked for money to start the project. Michael told him that he had not. He suggested that the state help pay for the construction of the dam and that revenue bonds be used for other construction necessary. By going this route the time involved in the lake construction would be greatly reduced because they would not have to wait on the legislature to approve funds for the construction project. Dr. Branch commended Dr. Michael on the effort he had put into the studies he presented.
Dr. Alice Stewart told the group about things that were being done to improve Lake Claiborne. There are plans to improve the Lisbon Landing area and build another boat ramp at the location. Also during the drawdown plans are being made to make improvements to the buoys located on the boating channels on the lake.
She stated that DOTD has been contacted concerning the conditions of the dam and spillway. There are trees and bushes growing on the dam. Local facilities have been contacted concerning the possible use of inmate labor to remove them. After all this planning DOTD will barely make a commitment to mow the dam. If it is left to grow the trees and bushes will grow back in a short period of time.