- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

PERU, Ind. (AP) - Record high water levels at three northern Indiana reservoirs are preventing the flooding of communities downstream, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official says.

Mississinewa Lake southeast of Peru stood at 777.2 feet Saturday, more than 40 feet above normal summer levels and less than 2 feet from reaching the dam’s spillway, the Corps’ Louisville, Kentucky, District office reported.

Nearby Salamonie Lake stood at 792.2 feet, less than a foot below flood stage, and J. Edward Roush Lake southeast of Huntington stood at 796.2 feet, or less than 2 feet below flood stage, the Corps reported.

Scot Dahms, operations manager for the Corps’ Upper Wabash Lakes division, said engineers built the three dams in the 1960s to protect downstream communities.

“If the three reservoirs weren’t in place, the water levels this last month in the downstream communities would’ve been a lot higher and there would have been damages,” Dahms told the Logansport Pharos-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1J9VU08 ).

The State Climate Office at Purdue University has said Indiana’s average June rainfall of 9.03 inches set a record for the month and was the fourth-wettest of any month on record since 1895. Heavy rains have continued this month.

“The dams have done exactly what they were there for,” Cass County Emergency Management Agency Director Alvin Beckman said. “They have saved Wabash and Peru and Logansport. If we didn’t have them, it just scares me to think how bad it could have been.

“Some of the pictures we see on the national news and The Weather Channel of all these towns being flooded, we would have been in that same situation,” he said.

Dahms said engineers have to wait for water levels on the Wabash River to go down before they can increase the release of water from the reservoirs. He said engineers are releasing a small amount almost daily, but it’s not enough to make a major difference because more water is entering the reservoirs than leaving.

“Hopefully, additional space comes open in the rivers so our outflows are more than our inflows and the lakes will go down and open storage in case we get any additional rains,” Dahms said.

“I’m hoping that we don’t get any more rain,” he said, “or if we do, it’s small amounts.”

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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