Thatcher Lock and Dam leak in Union County shouldn't affect industries using Ouachita water

A leak at Thatcher Lock and Dam has drained the Ouachita River to historically low levels.

But Robert Reynolds, a volunteer adviser for the Union County Water Conservation Board, as well as the board's former president, said Tuesday that it is unlikely industries that utilize the Thatcher pool will be affected.

"It's my best judgment that that would not happen," Reynolds said.

"The combination of the design of the permanent part of the lock and dam structure at 71 feet and the intentional design of the water intake structure below 71 feet would make water available to industries that use it."

Reynolds said that the lock and dam system was built with a permanent concrete base at 71 feet above sea level. A hinged crest gate -- the part of the dam that's currently leaking -- normally maintains the water level at 77 feet above sea level, he said.

Because the fixed concrete base is at 71 feet, water isn't expected to fall below that level, he said.

Additionally, according to a statement Reynolds sent the Union County Water Conservation Board last week, the intake pumping system at Thatcher Lock and Dam is sufficiently submerged that it will continue to pump so long as the dam pool is higher than 67 feet, although his statement does note that the 67-foot level hasn't been tested since 2002.

Potable water for Union County residents is also not at issue, as all drinking water is supplied by the Sparta Aquifer.

"The river water is only used for industry and irrigation -- it's an excellent fluid for those," Reynolds said.

Local industries that utilize water from the Thatcher pool include the Delek: El Dorado Refinery, the LANXESS Central plant, El Dorado Chemical and the Entergy/Union Power Partners power plant, which was built at the same time as the Thatcher Lock and Dam. Additionally, Reynolds said the new El Dorado High School, Mystic Creek Golf Course, Mystic Creek residential development and Holly Falls, a local wedding venue, utilize the river water for irrigation.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported that water at the dam was 74.14 feet.

Upcoming Events