As summer temperatures rise and the demand for more power to be produced by the Whitney Powerhouse increases, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Whitney Lake wants to remind everyone to use extreme caution and put safety first when visiting the recreation areas downstream of the Whitney Dam.
Because of extreme heat, visitors are likely to see more power generation from the dam to support the electric grid, which means large amounts of water moving downstream. When power generation takes place, there is little or no time for anyone in the area to retreat to higher ground. Warning signs, as well as the warning horn, should be signals of the potential danger to visitors in the area downstream of Whitney Dam. Release of water from the Whitney Powerhouse is immediate at the sound of the first warning horn. While boat launching is permitted from Riverside East, swimming and wading are no longer permitted from USACE managed access areas behind the dam.
The two turbines in the Whitney Powerhouse release about 3,000 cubic feet per second each. For comparison, a cubic foot is roughly the size of a basketball. The turbines operate in a mode referred to as Responsive Reserve Service. RRS is an ancillary service sold to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas which provides an automatic response to support a stable electric grid. This service is instrumental in preventing brown outs and black outs. Because of the RRS service, when the warning horn sounds, releases are immediate and a large amount of water will cause a powerful surge to rush downstream. Visitors will see this automatic response used to support the electric grid during the heat of summer.
USACE also advises caution when fishing along the banks of the Brazos River from USACE land below the dam. The changes in the rate of release give fishermen very little or no time to retreat to higher ground. As always, visitors are encouraged to wear a life jacket, follow warning signs, and be aware of their surroundings. The dam and lake continue to operate as designed.
Lake Whitney elevation and gate opening information can be found here: http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/whitney/
He probably never thought living his life by the golden rule would gain recognition or going to work would change a district.
Then again he was only doing his best, which is why he was recognized Nov. 29 as the 2017 Distinguished Civilian Employee for Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I went to work doing the best I could do and would always look back on the biblical saying of do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Morris Dale Leggett retired chief of natural resources management section said.
As a result Leggett’s actions were being noticed.
“I don’t think we’ve had anyone like him ever or since,” Deputy District Engineer Dr. Randy Hathaway said. “Dale was the best person in reaching out to other Corps employees. If you were sick or struggling he was always the first one lending a helping hand.”
Leggett made the perfect gallery candidate.
“We generally pick out one person who stands out and models those type of qualities and behaviors and he fits the Corps values of putting people first,” explained Hathaway.
Reiterating Hathaway Corps retiree Jack Johnson said Leggett was patient, understanding and caring when they worked together.
“You will need a lot of patience if you worked with me,” Johnson joked. “There were times I probably didn’t deserve it but he was nurturing and had more patience than anyone I know.”
Coincidently Leggett shared a similar experience when he first started out.
“Early in my career I never understood things well,” Leggett shared. “My former supervisors were all patient and understanding with me, making me realize that’s what most of us need.”
Hydraulics and technical services branch chief Michael Biggs started with the Corps in the 80’s and Leggett also shaped his career with his patience and understanding. In fact Biggs credits Leggett for some of his career skills.
“You really helped me communicate with others and taught me things that helped when I became a project manager,” Biggs concluded. “I learned to communicate effectively and understand the things you taught. You made me a better engineer.”
Equally amazing to the people he inspired were his contributions to the district.
“His name became synonymous as an advocate for natural resources and recreation programs within the district and around the Corps,” Titus Hardiman chief of natural resources management section said.
Leggett’s positive outlook was the key to his success.
“I always tried to seek more opportunities and never looked at it as a task,” Leggett said. “I walked in the office and each day it was a chance to excel.”
Being an avid outdoorsman gave him a firsthand glimpse the need to balance the demand for recreational opportunities and the districts requirement to ensure recreation and natural resources were protected.
“He was instrumental in employing a park efficiency ranking system known as the Park Operating Efficiency Review, which assisted recreation managers in making the best decision for changes in park operations,” outdoor recreation planner Christine Smith said.
Basically this meant if funding was available the parks would be getting improvements made.
Smith said POER was instrumental in communicating recreational needs to congressional delegates resulting in additional funding of more than $13 million for improvements at the projects.
Spearheaded under Leggett’s leadership the POER resulted in the district’s total annual visitation and recreational fee collections ranking in the top five of Corps districts nationally.
“Leggett was the forerunner in assuring district recreational opportunities with periodic park evaluations and modernizations,” Smith said. “He was a leader in assuring the future quality of recreational opportunities in Little Rock District with periodic park evaluations and modernization.”
There is no doubt Leggett’s commitment and expertise left a lasting impression on the district and that lasting impression is recognized with his induction into the Little Rock District’s Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees.
“Throughout his 32 years of federal service he demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and loyalty and was recognized as a cornerstone to those within the park ranger and natural resources specialist profession,” Hardiman concluded.