Lake Thunderbird's low water level to prompt conservation effort in three Oklahoma cities

Lake Thunderbird's water level is approaching a record low, prompting the Oklahoma Master Conservancy District to call for reductions in use by its three member cities — Norman, Midwest City and Del City.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Published: December 24, 2012
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The executive director of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District — Lake Thunderbird's governing body — says he will send letters in January to Midwest City, Del City and Norman asking them to reduce their water usage from the lake by 10 percent.

Randy Worden said an ongoing drought has dropped the lake level to almost a record low, making water conservation imperative.

Lake Thunderbird provides drinking water for the three cities, although Norman's reliance on the lake exceeds the other two, Worden said.

“Right now, Del City and Midwest City have adequate groundwater supplies to meet any reduction in Lake Thunderbird, so they're in pretty good shape, but Norman is in the worst shape from a water supply perspective,” he said.

Worden discussed the matter with city officials at a conference Tuesday, warning them of the impending reduction.

Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said a 10 percent reduction would mean Norman residents would be asked to take water conservation measures. What measures, and how soon they would be implemented, have not been decided, he said.

The three cities share an allocation of 21,600 acre-feet annually. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre with one foot of water.

Norman has 43.8 percent of the total allocation. Midwest City has a 40.4 percent allocation, and Del City's allocation is 15.8 percent.

Midwest City and Del City do not use the full amount allocated to them each year, but Norman does, utilities engineer Mark Daniels said. Norman also purchases some treated water from Oklahoma City during high usage summer months and relies on 36 wells to supplement its water supply, he said.

Officials are hoping for rain or snow before Jan. 1, which might alleviate the need for a full 10 percent reduction in the allocation levels for Lake Thunderbird, Daniels said.

The lake currently is 7 feet, 2 inches below the minimum conservation pool elevation, Daniels said.

“That's approaching the lowest it's ever been. It's getting pretty desperate,” Daniels said.


by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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