Locks and Dams

High Water Closes Thatcher Lock & Dam On Ouachita

The Vicksburg Engineer District announced March 25 the temporary closure of Thatcher Lock & Dam, the northernmost navigation structure on the Ouachita River near Camden, Ark., due to high water levels.

That day, the river at Thatcher measured 80.75 feet and rising. In February, the Vicksburg District’s maintenance team removed Thatcher’s hinged crest gate due to corrosion and leaking at the gate’s anchorages. In its place, the Corps installed a temporary poiree needle system with additional armoring. Because lock officials are unable to lower the temporary dam (unlike the hinged crest gate, which is designed to be lowered in high water), the Corps closed Thatcher to navigation once the river reached 81 feet.

The Ouachita River at Thatcher crested at just over 83 feet on March 28 and began a slow fall the following day. According to the National Weather Service, the river was forecast to drop below 81 feet at Thatcher around April 1.

Thatcher Lock & Dam opened to navigation in 1984. Thatcher Lake extends about 52 miles upriver to Camden. Late last year, the river began to lose pool at Thatcher, and the Corps discovered corrosion at the gate’s hinges, which caused its seal to fail. The temporary poiree needle system will remain in place while a replacement hinged crest gate is fabricated.