By Hannah DeClerk
Marshall News Messenger
July 29, 2011 at 2:30 a.m.
Local lakes are thirsting for rain as drought conditions continue to dry up the water supply.
Although Caddo Lake managed to keep its water near regular levels during June, officials are now confirming the ongoing drought has caused the lake's water levels to drop more than a foot.
"This is the lowest Caddo has been in my memory," said Caddo Resource Specialist Charles Hubbard. "Caddo is a shallow lake so a foot is a tremendous amount since it exposes a lot of what was once covered with water."
Hubbard said the lower levels pose a lot of problems for boaters, especially those with fiber glass boats or jet skis.
He said a boater should take extra caution when going out on the lake, and should try to go slow to avoid boat damage.
"There are quite a few underwater hazards, especially stumps that could ruin your boat," said Hubbard.
According to Texas Water Development Board figures, Caddo Lake was just over 54 percent full Thursday. Lake O' The Pines was still close to 87 percent full. Overall, the water development board statistics show Texas lakes are at about 68 percent of capacity. In the last month, total lake capacity has fallen by about 1 percent per week.
Hubbard said the lower water level, mixed with the intense heat, could cause the lake's temperature to rise, creating a problem for the fish.
"The fish will migrate to cooler areas, but now have less space, and have to compete for food," he said.
He said he also worries if the area were to get large amounts of rain, the fish will swim to back water areas with the largest amount of water, and become trapped.
"After the rain, the lake levels will go back to where they were before, and the fish will become trapped in the sloughs and die."
He said it is a good time for the birds since the lower levels make it easier to access fish and vegetation.
Hubbard added, Lake O' the Pines has also dropped by a foot, but is less affected since it is a much deeper body of water.
"We are lucky to not have lost more than some other lakes in the area, but I would definitely encourage boaters to call ahead to Caddo before deciding to go out on the lake," he said.
According to the National Weather Service, today and tomorrow are the only two chances for rain for the next few weeks.
"This is the best chance we have seen for quite some time, about a 50 percent chance, so if you don't receive it now, your chance for rain will be slim for awhile," said NWS Meteorologist Matt Hemmingway.
Hemmingway said starting Aug. 1 temperatures will return to 100 degrees and remain for while.
"There is absolutely no chance of rainfall for next week," he added.
He said even if it were to rain in the next few days, it would make little difference to the surrounding lakes' water levels.
"What we could be looking at is a quarter of an inch difference, but not enough to actually make an impression," he said.