The Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed the Thatcher Lock and Dam on the Ouachita River in Union County to all shipping due to high water.
Water levels are currently at 80.75 feet, and 81 feet is the threshold to stop shipping for safety, as the temporary pear dam cannot be lowered like the old hinged ridge gate. The pear dam was put in place earlier this year after the leaking hinged ridge gate was removed.
In line with normal operations, the district placed a buoy line on the river, the full length of the dam, to make the flood risk visible to boats, fishermen and other members of the public.
The Corps advised all vessels to abide by the closure and avoid the area near the dam until the district officially reopens to shipping.
Water levels are expected to drop below 81 feet over the next 3-5 days, but that time frame could be extended if the area experiences additional precipitation. More rain is expected mid next week.
A leak in the seal of a hinged ridge gate forced the district to allow Thatcher L&D’s pool elevation to drop to 72 feet in December 2021, and a reinforced pear needle system with steel beams I in steel was put in place as a temporary barrier. The leaking door was successfully removed on February 7.