The Brazos River through Waco is expected to rise this week as Lake Waco and Lake Whitney begin releasing floodwaters that have approached near-record levels.
But the Brazos is not expected to rise high enough to swamp flood-prone homes in McLennan County, according to local and federal officials.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began gradually opening gates Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, officials were expecting flows of 6,000 cubic feet per second from Lake Waco and 24,000 cubic feet per second at Lake Whitney.
Frank Patterson, coordinator for the Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management, said he expects Brazos flows this week through Waco of about 30,000 cubic feet per second, based on discussions with the Corps.
The Honey Lane residential area of Downsville normally floods when the Brazos hits 34,000 cubic feet per second, as it did around Halloween last year. There are no plans to evacuate that area in the near future, barring further rains, Patterson said.
“Our goal is not to flood any house,” he said. “My goal is to continue to communicate with the Corps to keep that from being an issue.”
Lake Whitney, Lake Waco and several other Central Texas lakes have spent the last week holding back heavy rainfall runoff in order to protect already flooded areas far downstream on the Brazos River in Rosenberg and Richmond. Parks and roads around both lakes are closed indefinitely.
Lake Waco on Tuesday evening stood at 484.52 feet above sea level — up 22.3 feet above normal and about level with Monday’s reading.
Lake Whitney was continuing to rise Tuesday, reaching 560.9 feet — 27.9 feet above normal.
Lake Whitney lake manager Abraham Phillips said about 31,000 cubic feet of water per second were rushing into the lake Tuesday from the Brazos and other major tributaries, but he expected the ramped-up releases to help stabilize the levels.
“It’s significantly slowing down,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he hopes to reopen some lake park facilities by Labor Day. Lake Waco officials have said most lake parks here also will be closed most of the summer.