WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed legislation on Tuesday to allow more water storage at Lake Thunderbird to offset the effect of droughts and keep pace with growth in central Oklahoma cities that rely on the reservoir.
The bill, by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, was approved without dissent and would allow the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, which operates and maintains the lake under contract with the federal government, to purchase water from Oklahoma City's Atoka Reservoir. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate.
Cole said Tuesday that the watershed that feeds the Norman-area lake hasn't been able to keep the lake full and that the water remaining during recent severe droughts is ill-suited for drinking or recreation.
The legislation is necessary because the federal law that established the lake and a dam didn't provide for water transfers from outside of the basin. Norman, Midwest City and Del City get water from the lake.
“Water must be available to support the continued growth in the region,” Cole said.
The cost of any water purchased would be borne by the conservancy district. The bill does not increase the capacity of the lake.