HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Lakes Hamilton and Catherine will begin to return to normal summertime levels on March 7. In November, both lakes were drawn down 5 feet in accordance with the Entergy Arkansas, Inc. drawdown plan approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The lakes will rise approximately 6 inches per day beginning March 7 and ending March 15, when they will be at their normal summertime levels.
Lakes Hamilton and Catherine are drawn down each winter to facilitate shoreline maintenance and inspection and to help control nuisance aquatic vegetation. It is important to have the lakes back to normal summertime levels before fish spawning activity begins, which is normally around mid-March. “Lakefront property owners should take precautions, as always, when the lakes begin to rise, said Bobby Pharr, manager of Entergy hydro operations. “This includes moving construction debris and other material from the lakebed to higher ground, securing boats to withstand higher water and returning floating docks to their permitted locations.”
As the lakes refill, a natural increase in the amount of floating debris is to be expected. This occurs from a combination of two things. First, heavier rainfall during the springtime washes trees, limbs, leaves and litter that accumulated over the winter into the lakes. Second, the debris that rested on the exposed shoreline during the drawdown will dry out and float as the lake level rises.
The debris tends to travel in large “mats” that move wherever the winds and currents take them, creating floating obstacles in the water and eyesores on the lake that may be present until late spring. Normally, as time progresses, the debris will eventually sink, disperse or float downstream. Disposing of yard waste properly and not in the lake or on dry lake bed will reduce the amount of floating debris.
Lake Catherine is formed by Remmel Dam, and Lake Hamilton is formed by Carpenter Dam, both of which Entergy built more than 60 years ago for hydroelectric generation. Lakes Hamilton and Catherine are part of Project 271, a hydroelectric project licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The reservoirs, project lands and associated Remmel and Carpenter dams are operated under a license granted by the FERC.
The FERC license authorizes and requires Entergy to control certain activities that affect the lake’s environmental, scenic and recreational values. Permits must be obtained from Entergy for any construction activity on the lake or shoreline including: boat docks, piers, walkways, swim docks, personal water craft ramps/lifts, decks, landings, embankments, bulkheads, seawalls, and dredging and filling operations. Relocation, replacement, enlargement or significant alteration of existing facilities also requires a new permit from Entergy. Applications for new shoreline facilities or activities are accepted only between March 15 and Nov. 30 of each year.
Lakefront property owners needing further information on the drawdown schedule or shoreline permitting guidelines and applications for lakes Hamilton or Catherine can call Entergy Arkansas’ hydro operations office at 501-844-2148 or visit the hydro operations website at www.entergy.com/hydro. Visitors to the website may also subscribe to receive lake and flow information by email. To receive regular information on the operation of the lakes, the public can also “Like” hydro operations’ Facebook page at
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.