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'Please don't': U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging people to not dump storm debris in lakes

Storm debris in lakes
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jun 11, 2024

BELL COUNTY, Texas (KXXV) — Recent storms left a lot of debris to clean up and some of our neighbors have been asking if disposing of it in our lakes would be a good idea.

Here is why it is actually dangerous for us and wildlife.

Underneath our now overfull lakes is a wildlife habitat, and much of that is made of trees and other things sitting below the surface.

”That’s a normal part of the environment but they’re going to be getting that naturally through floods and things of that nature,” said Karl Flocke, Water Resources Program Leader with Texas A&M Forest Service.

We don’t really need to add more debris to the lakes.

Even though they do add things like Christmas trees from time to time. That is done very strategically for safety and health reasons.

“When the Army Corps of Engineers or maybe Texas Parks and Wildlife and their fisheries, biologists, when they introduce this kind of woody debris, they’re looking for places where there’s not this kind of cover for the fish,” Flocke said. “Places where it’s really to benefit them.”

Adding unnecessary debris can hurt more than just the wildlife habitat.

That is not the only damage it can do in the long run.

”Well to start with... with debris from a storm and depending on what type of debris it is, it could actually be introducing something into the drinking water that you don’t want there,” said Clay Church, Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District.

Much of Central Texas pulls its drinking water from the lakes in our area.

So, dispose of your storm debris in another way.

“Do some research if you do have storm debris and find out what the local offerings are for disposal,” Flocke said. “Very often after a storm, local governments will have some sort of collection site where you can take that debris and have it properly disposed of.”

Remember, our lakes were in drought conditions for years but with our recent rains, the drought is over.

However, it's likely not the same lake you remember.

There could be drop-offs and new debris in places that weren’t there before.

Adding extra debris can not only harm our drinking water and wildlife habitats, but it can also create a major safety risk for boaters and swimmers.