U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stress importance of water release warnings behind Whitney dam

Published June 11, 2018

FORT WORTH, Texas –Visitors to the area downstream of Whitney Dam are reminded to be aware of warning signs and the warning horn. Release of water from the Whitney Powerhouse is immediate at the sound of the first warning horn. Additionally, the public should be aware that significant changes in water access were made in 2017. While boat launching is still permitted from Riverside East, swimming and wading are no longer permitted from either USACE managed access area behind the dam. Signs were installed and violators are subject to citations for violation of Title 36 of the US Code of Federal Regulations.

In 2017 the Whitney Powerhouse, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, completed a rehabilitation of both turbines. Due to the upgrade, operational changes took place in order to reap the benefits of the rehabilitation.

Previously the turbines, referred to as units, released about 2,200 cubic feet per second (CFS) each. Visitors to the area would hear a warning horn and then see the gradual release of water roughly five to eight minutes later. With the new turbine capability, the units now release about 3,000 CFS each and operate in a mode referred to as Responsive Reserve Service (RRS). RRS is an ancillary service sold to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) which provides an automatic response to support a stable electric grid. This service is instrumental in preventing brown outs and black outs. Because of the RRS service, when the warning horn sounds, releases are immediate and a large amount of water will cause a powerful surge to rush downstream.

USACE also advises caution when fishing along the banks of the Brazos River from USACE land below the dam. The changes in warning horns and rate of release give fishermen very little time to retreat to higher ground. As always, visitors are encouraged to wear a life jacket, follow warning signs, and be aware of their surroundings. For more information on Whitney Lake, call the project office at 254-622-3332.


About the Fort Worth District: The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was established in 1950. The District is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and SWF Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/usacefortworth/


Denisha Braxton

Release no. 18-024