LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - For years there have been complaints of flooding at Bundick Lake, but right now the water body is dry. No fishing. No boating. They drain it every five years so landowners can repair bulkheads and such. Wendell Terrell and his family own a Retreat Center and RV Park on the lake. He says this has been a rough year.
“We probably lost 60% of our revenue this year because of the lake flooding in the spring and now we don't have any water in the fall. I don't know anybody who wants to come to a lake that doesn't have any water in it. This will be almost a year of no business,” said Terrell.
Nicole Terrell says spring was awful due to flooding and could have been prevented if the gate was opened sooner.
“That flood rose about two inches an hour which is devastating. We had to come over here at 5:30 in the morning, banging on everybody’s door, ‘Hey it is flooding, we need you to evacuate!’ And we helped them remove their things,” she said.
And Wendell would like to see the lake refilled sooner rather than later. Terrell and his daughter believe better management of the drawdown gate and communication with long-time property owners could make a huge difference.
Wendell says they need to coordinate with all those who live there. He says those who have spent years there can survey water levels in certain spots and have a good idea how high it will get based on rainfall predictions.
“The technology we have today is amazing and they need to use it to everybody's advantage,” said Nicole.
And the Terrell’s think Bundick Lake could become a major asset for tourism in the state if managed better.
“They've got a goldmine here and have since the 50's when they built this lake. There's people come here from all over,” he said.
But for now, they wait for better conditions and hope to again see this park filled with RVs and visitors.
The State Department of Transportation and Development raises and lowers the drawdown gate according to recommendations of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
DOTD Spokesperson Tammy York sent the following information:
“The Bundick Lake drawdown structure is currently open as part of a scheduled drawdown to allow for landowner and parish maintenance. Dewatering will be conducted at a rate of 2-4 inches per day until the drawdown target level of 87.0 MSL (8 feet below pool stage) is reached. Gate closure to allow for refilling of the reservoir is scheduled to take place on or about November 29, 2019.”
“The Department of Transportation and Development is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the reservoir embankments and the structure. DOTD opens the Bundick Lake drawdown if conditions may present hazardous to public safety and if maintenance is needed. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries may also request the Bundick Lake drawdown structure to be opened to provide for aquatic vegetation control, bottom sediment compaction, and landowner/parish maintenance.”
“DOTD monitors the forecasted water level in Bundick Lake to determine if or when to open the drawdown gate. If the forecasted water level may reach the 97 foot flood stage, DOTD will open the Bundick Lake drawdown gate to assist with the situation. We will continue monitoring water levels and the drawdown gate will remain open until the forecasted water level is expected to remain below the 97 foot flood stage.”