We learned something important Monday about Tuttle Creek Lake that might ease a little panic.

Put simply, there’s still room for a heckuva lot of water in that lake.

Brian McNulty, the local person in charge of the lake for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, put it this way in a phone conversation with The Mercury: The amount of water that it would take to fill up the lake entirely from where it sits today is the same amount it would take to raise the lake from its normal level to a level 28 feet high.

Those of us who’ve been around awhile know that raising the level of the lake 28 feet takes quite a while.

Secondly, we learned that the Corps could start letting water out of the regular outlet tubes fairly soon. That would bring down the level of the lake in an orderly way, without causing any flooding here.

There are two key numbers to watch in that regard: The level of the lake, and the flow of the Missouri River at one particular point in the middle of Missouri. If the lake rises to 1,128 feet, the Corps could start letting water out the tubes, so long as the flow of the river if less than 180,000 cubic feet per second. The lake is currently about 1,125 feet, and the river is flowing at 164,000 cfs.

Even with this week’s forecast heavy rain, McNulty said the lake is not expected to rise to 1,128 feet. Keep in mind that the lake is shaped like a bowl, so as it fills up it takes more water to raise the water level.

What we’re saying, in essence, is that there’s a release valve, and that there’s still quite a ways to go.

We’re absolutely NOT saying that there won’t be flooding. If heavy rains keep up through the summer, then the lake will fill up to the 1,136 level where the Corps will be forced to open the spillway gates, and that would flood part of Northview.

As we’ve been saying, local officials are right to tell residents to prepare. But there’s still a long ways to go before anyone has to freak out.

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