Northeast Tarrant

With lakes full in North Texas, ‘water fever’ heats up for July 4th

Lakes full for July 4th

While the spring floods are a distant memory for most area lakes, Lake Grapevine still faces some challenges. The lake is still 11 feet higher than it’s conservation pool but is expected to drop in the coming weeks if the hot, dry weather continue
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While the spring floods are a distant memory for most area lakes, Lake Grapevine still faces some challenges. The lake is still 11 feet higher than it’s conservation pool but is expected to drop in the coming weeks if the hot, dry weather continue

Last year, Tina Nealy saw her business nearly flushed away by the high water at Lake Grapevine.

Her Paradise Cove wedding venue in Southlake dealt with flood waters from late May to early October. Some weddings were canceled; others were moved to other locations.

“I prayed a lot,” Nealy said. “A whole lot.”

This year, despite the lake remaining higher than normal, Nealy said weddings have gone off without a hitch.

“It didn’t get anywhere near as high this time,” Nealy said about Lake Grapevine, which is 11 feet above capacity. A year ago it was 26 feet high. “It got close to our outdoor site but we’ve been able to do all of our weddings.”

For the July 4th weekend, Nealy has a wedding scheduled for Sunday and expects to see plenty of action on the lake. She’s already seen two boats get too close to shore and get stuck on her property’s lawn.

“The lake has been busier the last three weeks than it has been in years,” Nealy said. “I think everyone has got water fever.”

Indeed, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 90s in the forecast, lakes in North Texas are mostly fat and happy and expect to be packed this holiday weekend.

I think everyone has got water fever.

Tina Nealy, owner of Paradise Cove

But while most lakes are fully operational, Lake Grapevine still faces some challenges. Even though it’s well above its conservation pool, because it’s managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Grapevine can go even higher to hold back water from being released downstream.

‘Parks are still closed’

Last year’s floods caused major problems at Grapevine, shutting down parks and boat ramps. Some of those issues persist.

“It’s only been a year and two months,” said Chris Smith, Grapevine’s deputy parks director. “A lot of parks are still closed.”

Oak Grove Park, a popular spot to watch the fireworks on July 4th, is open, but both Sand Bass Point and Minnow Loop remain underwater. Both Lakeview and Meadowmere parks and the high water boat ramp at Katie’s Woods Park will be closed this holiday weekend.

Only the Silver Lake and Murrell Park boat ramps were expected to be open.

Once the water recedes, which could occur by the end of July it stays dry, the cleanup and repairs will likely stretch into next year.

It’s not only cleanup. It will be reconstruction in a lot of areas.

Chris Smith, Grapevine deputy parks director

“It’s not only cleanup,” Smith said. “It will be reconstruction in a lot of areas. This stuff wasn’t built in a day and it will take some time to repair and rebuild.”

A top priority will be getting the cabins at the Vineyards Campground and Cabins fully reopened. The cabins are finally back in place, but water along one roadway needs to recede and electricity needs to be restored before they can completely reopen.

“We have people who want to come down and spend a week or two by the lake,” Smith said. “We want to get back in the business of making money rather than bleeding money.”

PK, Granbury ‘open for business’

Other corps lakes have also been holding back water for weeks to prevent downstream flooding.

“The main thing would be if there is a park area close to the lake then your favorite campground is probably not going to be accessible this weekend,” said Clay Church, a spokesman for the corps’ Fort Worth district, which manages 25 lakes across Texas.

Lake Benbrook was two feet above capacity on Thursday, which was enough to impact a number of boat ramps, horse trails and parts or all of some parks. Mustang Creek and Rocky Park were completely closed, while parts of North Holiday, South Holiday and Bear Creek were also closed because of high water, according to the corps facility report.

The main thing would be, if there is a park area close to the lake, then your favorite campground is probably not going to be accessible this weekend.

Clay Church, spokesman for the corps Fort Worth district, referring to parks on the area’s corps lakes.

Elsewhere, lakes appeared to be in good shape.

Even though the Brazos River was hard hit during last month’s floods, both Possum Kingdom and Lake Granbury appeared to be ready for the holiday weekend.

“In terms of PK and Granbury, they’re open for business,” said Matt Phillips, government relations manager for the Brazos River Authority. “All parks are open. The only residual issues may be some debris, particularly at Lake Granbury, but we think most of that has been removed.”

‘In amazingly good shape’

Along the West Fork of the Trinity River, Lake Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth should be in good shape for the holiday weekend after dealing with high water for the last two months.

“We’re in amazingly good shape,” said David Marshall, director of engineering and operations support for the Tarrant Regional Water District.

In terms of PK and Granbury, they’re open for business.

Matt Phillips, Brazos River Authority

At Lake Bridgeport, the 10 cabins at the North Side Marina and Resort on Lake Bridgeport were fully booked for the holiday weekend. And bookings are good through Labor Day.

“People come out here because it’s quiet and peaceful,” said Jeanne Kennedy, co-owner of the marina. “It’s nice family oriented environment. We’re not a a big party lake like some of those around Dallas and Fort Worth.”

The influx of water into Lake Bridgeport had left the reservoir the color of “weak iced tea” but Kennedy they can live with that after years of drought.

One byproduct of the rains ending will be water being pumped to Tarrant County from East Texas. TRWD, which provides raw water to almost all of Tarrant County, will start pumping water again from its two East Texas reservoirs, Richland-Chambers and Cedar Creek next week.

“We’re actually going to start earnestly moving water on July 5,” Marshall said. “Once the flood pools go away, we start pumping.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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