Let It Pour
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

Lake Fork levels are still 3 feet below normal, but Albert Jordan of Jordan's Coffee Creek Marina on FM 2166 said the 2 to 2 1/2 inches of rainfall over the weekend offered welcome relief from the drought. Lake Fork has risen about 1 1/2 feet since the first of the year.
Staff Photo by Patti Sells

Jan. 16, 2007 - Hooray for El Niño.

That quirky bit of weather voodoo that emanates from the Pacific Ocean was supposed to make this a wetter than normal winter, and so far, that's been the case.

The recent rains also mean that, while far from full,Sulphur Springs' main water source is getting a much-needed drink.

Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell said Cooper Lake's water level has gone up about two feet since the wet stuff started falling late last week.

"And it's still rising," Maxwell said this morning.

The reservoir was about 17 feet below normal elevation in October, but has risen about 5 feet since that time.

This week's rise came pretty fast and furious. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge measuring the flow of the Sulphur River — the reservoir's main feeder stream — at Commerce showed the river's height at just under 4 feet before the rain started falling Saturday. The river level hit its maximum Monday at 15 feet but had dropped to just over 6 feet today.

Maxwell said the runoff from rainfall events normally stops flowing into reservoirs within 2 1/2 days, but Cooper Lake is continuing to add capacity.

"Yesterday Cooper Lake gained 9 inches, and the curve has started to flatten a bit, but we've gained 3 inches so far today," he said at 11 a.m.

Meanwhile, the city's backup water supply, which carries about one year's reserve, has filled to capacity.

"Lake Sulphur Springs is over the top," Maxwell said. "It's completely full."

City leaders have been watching lake levels closely for more than a year, ponder when or if they would have to institute water conservation measures due to the ongoing drought. As recently as October, when Cooper Lake had fallen to its lowest level since the dam gates were closed in 1991, there were warnings that conservation measures could be put in place in early 2007.

Now, the need isn't as pressing.

"It gives us a little bit of breathing room. It delays the decision," he said. "We'll wait and see how the next couple of months plays out."

The city manager has projected the 

The lake had gotten so lowat 423caught about 2 feet in cooper lake, and it's still rising.lake ss is over the top. It's completely fullin the past wehen we've gotten these gully washers, it's happened in 2, to 212 daysyesterday gained 9 inches, and hte curve is starting to flatten a bit. but we've gained 3 inches so far today. (as of 11 a.m.it delays the decision.  we'll wait and see how the next couple of months plays out.expecially on top of the saturated groundsIf that cycle holds 

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