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UPDATE #1 - USACE Vicksburg District Thatcher Lock and Dam public notice

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District
Published Nov. 5, 2021

VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District continues to monitor river levels near Thatcher Lock and Dam (L&D), where pool elevation has fallen below normal pool level due to a leak in the seal of the hinge crest gate. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to draw down the pool to make repairs at Thatcher L&D. The pool level must reach 71 ft. at Thatcher before engineers can inspect the seal to determine the exact cause of the leak. At that point, USACE will determine if it is possible to do a temporary or permanent repair while the pool is lowered. 
“The Corps of Engineers team remains committed to communicating and working with local stakeholders, partners, and city officials to provide technical assistance,” said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. “Safety remains our priority, and the team will work steadfastly to make the repairs as quickly as possible when river levels are ideal.” 

The pool elevation at the Camden, Arkansas gauge will see increases over the next week.  Even though National Weather Service predictions have fallen slightly, rainfall will have a positive effect on increasing river levels slightly over the next seven days.  That prediction, combined with the drawdown of Lake Hamilton by Entergy’s hydropower operations, will increase the flow and water levels at Camden. 
The drawdown will not occur until the City of Camden Water Supply is prepared, and USACE has materials in place to inspect and potentially repair.  After coordinating with the City of Camden, this drawdown may occur as soon as the last week of November. Once the gate seal is exposed, USACE will perform inspections on the gate and determine what is necessary for a temporary or permanent fix.  If possible, repairs will be made immediately, and the pool will be raised back to normal pool elevations.

The Vicksburg District remains vigilant in communicating with partners and stakeholders regarding updates to the progress of Thatcher L&D repairs.  We’ve been in communication with the Ouachita River Valley Association (ORVA), City of Camden, Arkansas, and Union County Water Conservation Board as well as the Arkansas Game and Fish and Arkansas Natural Resource Commission.  

The public is encouraged to contact local authorities and management officials for updates about conditions in their area and should be cautious while boating upstream of the structure as underwater debris (i.e. trees, pipes, stumps) could become exposed as the pool level falls and become a boating hazard. In addition, you can find pool levels for Thatcher L&D at https://go.usa.gov/xMJhU.

Completed and put in operation in 1984, Thatcher L&D creates a navigable pool all the way to Camden Arkansas, a distance of 52 river miles. Thatcher is the northern most lock & dam on the Ouachita River.  

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, that holds nine major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.

Sabrina Dalton

Release no. 21-082