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Decatur Dumping Excess Water into River
A large amount of water is flowing over the dam on Lake Decatur.
That's a sight that hasn't been seen very much in the last couple of years, and that's a good indication how much local bodies of water have risen thanks to the spring rains.
"Currently we've had quite a bit of rain in the Lake Decatur watershed," Keith Alexander, Decatur Director of Water Management, said. "In fact we have more water running in to the lake today than we have since June of 2011, so we're very pleased to see what Mother Nature has delivered for us."
All that water could produce issues downstream.
"The water that we're allowing to pass through the dam is normal for a typical spring time," Alexander said. "But because our citizens downstream of the Lake Decatur dam along the Sangamon River haven't seen this kind of water level in almost two years, we thought it was appropriate to let them know that that water is coming over the next several days."
He doesn't expect flooding issues, but bodies of water across the area are already swelling from the rain, from the Sangamon River to Clinton Lake, which could tempt some folks to enjoy the high waters.
"The Sangamon up by Monticello is out its banks," Conservation Police Officer Ray Wichus said. "So people probably see it as a real attractive canoeing and kayaking. But you gotta be real careful. If you're gonna go, wear your life jackets, that's first and foremost. You gotta remember that the water's also cold, so if you do canoe and kayak and you get into the water, hypothermia could be an issue also."
High water can also change the appearance of the terrain.
"Some things that may be exposed when the water is a little lower, is hidden now," Wichus said. "So you may hit stumps that you don't know are there. You may find brush piles, and get stuck on those, which can be a real problem."
Alexander recommends being very careful, even out on lakes such as Lake Decatur. He said the higher water levels can pick up things like surplus lumber that has been laying next to docks, or tree branches. That stuff can be very hard to see when you're out on the water.
Farmers are also keeping an eye on water levels, hoping that their planting season won't be delayed by flooding.
We spoke with Sangamon County Farm Bureau President Allen Entwistle. He said the Sangamon River is one foot below the top of his levies at a farm just south of Mechanicsburg.