On Thursday, scientists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started releasing water from the Lake O' the Pines reservoir into one of Caddo Lake's main tributaries, Big Cypress Bayou. By the end of the week, flood conditions are expected in parts of Big Cypress, engulfing areas that have been dry for over a year.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that scientists hope the experiment will be a test model for most river systems in Texas, and experts say the test will help establish a base line for the amount of water flow that will support a stream's habitat.
Richard Lowerre, president of the Caddo Lake Institute, said that the institute is the first to practice and test this theory.
"If we're successful, you will see scientists doing the same thing on the Trinity and the Brazos and every other river system in Texas," Lowerre said. "We'll be asking the question: How do we protect flows for the lakes and for the bays and estuaries for
shrimp, oysters and fish? It's a complex system, and it's going to be a complex answer."
The Star-Telegram reported that a massive flood will not engulf homes, but the test should bring higher water levels along the bayou - enough to restore water to some low-lying channels.
At its peak, the water will be released at 1,800 cubic feet per second. Lake O’ the Pines will reportedly drop by six inches once the test is over. Scientists hope that will be enough to bring a more variable flow of water to Big Cypress.
The idea of the experiment started at a series of conferences about Caddo Lake in 2004. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to it in 2005, but an ongoing drought prevented any releases until now.
There was a similar release about decade ago but with far less real-time monitoring put into place.