Lake Fort Phantom levels rise as scalping continued Thursday

Heavy rain allows scalping to help fill Lake Fort Phantom

ABILENE, Texas - The recent rains mean an increase in Abilene's water supply.

The City of Abilene began scalping Wednesday, drawing water from the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and pumping it into the city's top reservoir.

Wayne Lisenbee, Assistant Director of Water Utilities, said the watershed that feeds into Lake Fort Phantom is relatively small, and scalping helps to increase it.

A state permit allows the City to pump the water from the river when it reaches a certain volume, to help slow it down.

Besides the benefit of the increased water supply to residents, local fisherman said scalping also makes for an easier catch.

Several were out at the lake Thursday after hearing scalping had begun.

"When we're scalping we've got a lot of current running, and when you've got a lot of current running you know fish are running pretty good," said Ray Ocon.

That current is strong. When the pumps are running at full capacity, they can move 400 million gallons a day. During the highest rate of pumping for this scalping event they were moving about 19 million gallons per hour.

"It's like pouring water into a glass," said Lisenbee. "We're now able to take water from this river and put it into the glass that is Lake Fort Phantom and you will see the lake levels rise."

They have already. By mid-afternoon Thursday the lake had risen 2.17 feet and was continuing to rise.

The number of pumps running was decreased earlier in the afternoon because the level of the river was already going down steadily.

Lisenbee said all the extra water does not necessarily make up for the years of drought the Big Country has seen.

"This is gonna be a great supplement to our water supply," said Lisenbee. "I don't necessarily think that it will pull us out of our water conservation stage so we continue to encourage our people to be smart with their water."  

The scalping is expected to end sometime Thursday afternoon or night and the City of Abilene should have the final lake level numbers by Friday.

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