Yazoo Basin lakes begin annual drawdown

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

VICKSBURG – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District is beginning the annual winter water-level drawdown at Arkabutla, Sardis, Grenada and Enid lakes. Two of those lakes, Sardis and Enid, extend into Northeast Mississippi counties.
The drawdown prepares the lakes for their primary purpose of flood control, preparing them to contain much of the runoff that heavy spring rains could produce. The lakes were built in the 1940s and early 1950s, having been authorized by federal legislation in response to the 1927 flood that devastated much of the lower Mississippi Valley, including the Yazoo Valley – better known as the Mississippi Delta.
Enid Lake’s flood control pool can hold 602,400 acre-feet – more than 10 times its volume at the winter “conservation pool” level. Sardis Lake’s flood control value is even greater, holding 1,512,000 acre-feet at flood control level.
Corps officials remind the public that the thousands of acres of mudflats exposed by lower water levels during late fall and winter provide new recreational opportunities, but they also create new safety challenges – trotlines, stumps and sinkholes among them.
Winter visitors are also reminded that they may come across archaeological sites at low water levels that are normally submerged. The destruction, defacement, removal or any alteration of such public property is prohibited.
“Archaeological sites on property owned by the U.S. government are under strict protection by federal laws and regulations,” a Corps notice states. “Items to avoid include natural formations, mineral deposits, historical and archaeological features, material from old house sites, arrowheads, Native American artifacts, human remains and paleontological fossils.”
While fishing opportunities on the lakes continue throughout the winter, the low water levels leave most recreation-pool boat launches high and dry. Each lake, though, has at least one year-round boat launch near its dam.
Winter also brings environmental events at the Corps lakes. Dates have not been announced yet for 2013, but both Enid and Sardis lakes traditionally host bald eagle surveys in January and fisheries habitat construction days in February. Both events are open to the public.
For more information, call the Sardis Lake Field Office at (662) 563-4531 or the Enid Lake Field Office at (662) 563-4571.
errol.castens@journalinc.com