Teenage best friends Avery Petit and Sydney Dell walked out in rain-swollen, chilly Lake Grapevine last week toward a submerged dock and began taking selfies once they reached the waist-high water.
Normally, where they were standing would have been dry, but recent rains have caused the lake level to rise higher than it’s been in years.
“It’s been a very wet spring,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Clay Church said. “I have not seen lake levels this high this decade.”
Church, whose agency manages Lake Grapevine, said “people who recreate on the lake need to use extreme caution.”
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“People need to realize that there are hazards now that there weren’t before,” he said.
The higher-than-normal lake level has forced the city to close all of its boat ramps except the high water one at Katie’s Woods. Last Wednesday, the lake level was about 548 feet compared to the 535-foot normal pool.
Petit, 14, and Dell, 13, both eighth-graders at Grapevine Middle School, didn’t mind.
Instead of walking to the lake’s edge near Oak Grove Park as they do almost every day for exercise, they treked about 50 yards out, still a long ways away from the nearly submerged dock.
“It was an optimist decision,” Avery said of a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk into the water in their street clothes. “I like to make good of every situation. I figured we might as well go crazy.”
Randy Sell, city of Grapevine lake park and events manager, cringed when he heard about the teens’ whimsical walk.
“It makes me nervous,” Sell said. “You have to be real careful.”
He explained that the high water has covered up “lots of stuff” that is not supposed to be underwater, such as electrical pedestals, dumpsters, waste containers and picnic tables.
One of the city’s biggest hurdles in this unusual high water scenario is education, he said.
“We’ve gained literally a couple of thousand acres of water,” Sell said.
He said they have gone from nine feet below normal pool earlier this year to nearly 13 feet above.
“That’s almost 21 feet of water level,” Sell said.
The city has been scrambling to make adjustments, such as closing down 10 of its 11 boat ramps — only the high level one at Katie’s Woods is open.
Last week, they closed the city’s Vineyards Campgrounds and Cabins on Lake Grapevine. Four damaged cabins had to be removed.
“We had to clear everyone out,” Sell said. “That’s a big revenue here we had to refund.”
City coffers will be hit hard as repairs are made when the water recedes. Also, having to change events is a challenge, both logistically and financially.
The city’s FaceBook page warns of potential dangers, saying that access to the lake is very limited and asking people to be careful because of floating debris, obstacles and structures that may be underwater.
“There’s so much stuff under the surface that could be dangerous,” Sell said. “People need to keep it safe.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367