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Officials worry Lake Conway may be nearing flood stage as rain continues

Officials are warning Lake Conway is nearing flood stage as central Arkansas sees multiple days of flash flooding.

FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. — Officials are warning Lake Conway is nearing flood stage as central Arkansas sees multiple days of flash flooding.

A biologist with Arkansas Game and Fish opened all of the gates to the spillway at the Lake Conway Dam. It is rushing out water at maximum capacity.

Randy Mayhan goes fishing there often. He has not seen the lake this high since 2019.

"I have seen it where the water was flowing into the lake a couple of years ago whenever it flooded so bad," he said.

Randy Zeller with Arkansas Game and Fish said Conway's increased infrastructure and roads are partially what causes the lake to flood. The concrete prevents water from being able to get into the ground and be soaked up by the soil.

"So, it goes into gutters, it goes into ditches and things like that which eventually end up in the creeks and into the rivers that flow into the lake," Zeller said.  "It's as open as we can possibly get it and is draining as much water as we can as fast as we can."

Flash flooding makes it especially difficult for the lake to drain properly.

"It can't keep up sometimes with the amount of water that flows into the system," Zeller said.

The water on Lake Conway is already so high, it's within feet of some people's property. If it rains another inch, the concern is that it's going to spill over and flood people's homes.

"We've done everything we can, opened everything up," Zeller said.

Zeller said Lake Conway's water level was 2 feet above normal pool and rising at 1/2 inch per hour early Wednesday. The flood Stage for Lake Conway is three feet above normal pool. The rate of rise is slowing, however, if an inch or more rain falls over the lake in the next 24 hours, it could cause the lake to rise at or above flood stage. 

But so far, Zeller said the rising of the water has slowed since opening the spillway.

"Right now, it's really up to mother nature on how much rain we're going to get tonight on how fast that water is going to rise in the lake," he said.

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