Catch a Rainbow!
Shoals Dam Generation in Cubic
Feet Per Second (CFS)
The above graph
does NOT show releases (if
there are any) from the spillway
gates. In times of high water on
Bull Shoals Lake it is best to watch
announcements on the Little
Rock Corp Of Engineers Facebook
website to see what is happening
concerning any spillway releases
(which would be in addition to
Power Releases shown on the above
IF (repeat IF) running at full
capacity, generators at Bull Shoals Dam each put out
3300 CFS (on average). Divide
CFS in green graph above
by 3300 (or just 3000) to get
approx. actual (equivalent of full
capacity) generators online. This will not
usually match the phone recorded message. Important....
Reload this page to update graph if you
have been here before.
Why White River Water Levels Don't
Always Match Recorded Phone Recording
Why is it best to look at
Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) flows rather
than "number of generators" online from
the Bull Shoals Dam telephone recorded
If you call the Bull Shoals Dam
recording (870-431-5311) to see how
many generators are running, you
probably are aware that it sometimes
does not give a clear picture of the
water levels in the White River.
There are a number of reasons for this;
#1 Generators are
quite often run at less than full
capacity. The recorded message
"counts" a generator running at 20% (for
example) capacity as "online" just the
same as one running at 100% capacity..
#2 The 8 generators are not
equal capacity. The 4 newer ones
are bigger. The voice recording
just reports that; for example, 3
generators are online, but actually 2
could be running at 75% capacity and 1
at 50% or anything else.
Also, looking at the CFS provides a
clearer picture of what happened before.
An example would be that you call the
dam in the morning and it says zero
generators online, but you get to the
river and find fairly high water.
Most likely, they were running a lot of
water last night. They sometimes
attempt to report this on the recording
but it is not always very clear.
This detailed info is available at this
To Easily Get A More Complete Idea
Of What The River Level Is Right
(this explanation looks
more complicated than it actually is)
Rather than calling the
Recorded Tel # 870-431-5311 you can use
your smartphone or computer to access more
detailed info. Each report shows
about 36 hours of past generation history.
The water will travel
about 2-4 MPH. The more generators
they turn on
the faster it will
flow. At cotter, 18 miles below the
Dam, we figure 5-6 hours (very wide
average) for it to get here. A
map showing the mileages from the Dam to
points along the river is here
The water will fall out slower than it
Click image below for
Put that in your browser, on your computer or
And it looks like
Other than the first two columns (date and
time), the column you want is column #5
(Turbine Release - CFS).
1) Each generator at Bull Shoals is 3300 CFS
(average) at full capacity.
2) Looking at the sample at the right, you can
see that around midnight on Feb 3rd they
started some generation and by 1 AM Feb 4th
they were at 1226 CFS. This is less
than 1/2 of one generator.
3) I am writing this at 7:30 AM Feb 4th and
just downloaded the file at the right. I
also just called the Dam Tel#
(870-431-5311). The Tel Recording says
generation began about midnight and they are
running two generators. They
probably ARE running 2 generators, but only at
something like 25% of full capacity (each).
4) When will it get here? At 1AM on Feb
4th, they started some small (1226 CFS)
generation. I would expect to see a very
small water rise around 9-10 AM (using the
lower 2MPH because they only turned on less
than 1/2 of one generator). 18 miles
divided by 2MPH = 9hours.
At Rim Shoals, about 24 miles below the Dam, I
would expect the water will not rise until at
least 12 hours from 1AM, etc.
Important (especially if you are
wading) >>> Unless they
turn on more generators since you looked at
If you are going fishing today, and just call
the Tel#, you might expect there is (or will
be shortly) quite a bit of water (the 2
generators it reported) except it might not be
at Cotter quite yet (18 miles below the Dam).
You get to the river (Cotter) at 8AM with your
boat and find it is pretty much dead low.
Which is fine for fishing, just not what you
were expecting and you may be restricted
between shoals if you are not planning to
shuttle and don't want to get out and push
back over the downstream shoal.
Or, much worse, if you want to wade, you might
not go at all because you think 2 generators
might be too high.
Also, and very important, from the
recording, you do not know what was happening
By looking at this data, I can see it has been
turned off since 1:00 AM Feb 3rd.
Therefore, at Cotter, 18 miles below the Dam,
I would expect it to be pretty much dead low (and
Southwestern Power Administration has a
telephone recording (866-494-1993) of projected
generation that is sometimes very
close. And it projects it "as the
equivalent of" so many generators
This, in fact, would be a big improvement to
the Corp of Engineers current generation
report at (870-431-5311). For instance,
instead of "4 generators online', if
they could report it as "the equivalent
of" 3 generators online and so on.
The message to take from the above information
is; if you are calling the Bull Shoals Dam
number (870-431-5311) from Texas and waiting
for wade-able water or low water or high water
don't believe everything you hear!
The White River is eminently fish-able 365
days a year.
gauge (stage/height) is a key
"control" or determinant of what the Corp
of engineers can do relative to
"non-power" releases from Bull Shoals Dam.
The following (in italics) is from the Corp
of Engineer FAQ page.
What are the
regulating stages in the current Water
The water control plan, simply stated,
says releases from Beaver are dependent
upon the elevation in Table Rock and
Bull Shoals Lakes; releases from Table
Rock are dependent upon the elevation in
Bull Shoals Lake; and releases from Bull
Shoals and Norfork are dependent
upon the seasonal regulating stage at
Newport, Arkansas. Release
criteria for the lakes was developed
more specifically based upon the pool
elevation, pool elevation of downstream
lakes, the time of year, and downstream
• From 1 December through 14 April -
Regulate to 21 feet except, if a natural
rise exceeding 21 feet occurs, regulate
to the lesser of the observed crest or
• From 15 April through 7 May - Regulate
to 14 feet except, regulate to 21 feet,
from 15 April through 30 April, and 18
feet, from 1 May through 14 May, if the
four-lake system storage exceeds 50%
• From 8 May through 30 November -
Regulate to 12 feet except, regulate to
14 feet from 15 May through 30 November,
if the 4-lake system storage exceeds 70%
• Release a minimum of firm power and in
extreme cases zero if a significant
reduction in critical downstream flood
conditions is possible.
• Prorate the flood control releases
between Bull Shoals and Norfork to
maintain equal percentages of available
flood control storage in NF and the
• Release a maximum of 32,500 cfs from
BS and 10,500 cfs from NF subject to a
50,000 cfs flow limit at Batesville.
• Curtail secondary power
generation—releases exceeding firm
power—until six days after the crest at
Newport. Secondary power releases should
provide that stages above the regulating
stage continue to recede until the
regulating stage is reached.
River FAQ from Corp of Engineers.
and current lake water levels are
Current Releases from Bull Shoals
Lake into the White River is available at: White
You can also call
870-431-5311 for recorded message about
current generation at Bull Shoals.
All White River Lakes and relevant Gauges
Map of the White River is available at: White
There are six gauges on the
Buffalo River to check water levels:Boxley,
Joe and Harriett.
Map of the Buffalo River
is available at: Buffalo
Ron and Debbie Gamble
P.O. Box 96
Cotter, Arkansas 72626