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Canton Lake hasn't recovered from water release in early 2013

Abundant spring rains are needed to restore the lake level for summer activity, experts say.
by Kathryn McNutt Modified: January 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm •  Published: January 2, 2014
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photo - This June 11 file photo shows the low lake level at Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma. In early 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers released 30,000 acre-feet of water from the lake into the North Canadian River. The lake?s water level dropped to about 13 feet below normal after the release.  AP PHOTO  Sue Ogrocki - AP
This June 11 file photo shows the low lake level at Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma. In early 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers released 30,000 acre-feet of water from the lake into the North Canadian River. The lake?s water level dropped to about 13 feet below normal after the release. AP PHOTO Sue Ogrocki - AP

Those who depend on a lively Canton Lake hope the new year brings abundant spring rains to restore the water level, which remains about 13 feet below normal.

“It's absolutely critical that we get some water into that lake this spring,” said Jeff Converse, president of the Canton Lake Association. “It's not a good situation at all.”

Winter precipitation doesn't help because winter is the driest point of the year, civil engineering technician Debbie Chaloupek said.

“What snow we get absorbs into the ground,” Chaloupek said.

What the lake needs is good spring rains. It will take a large amount of rainfall in the Woodward and Seiling areas for enough runoff to raise the water level, she said.

Millions of gallons from the lake were released last winter to replenish Oklahoma City's water supply after two years of drought.

The Army Corps of Engineers released 30,000 acre-feet of water from Canton Lake into the North Canadian River in late January and early February. One acre-foot of water (the amount of water covering 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot) equals 326,000 gallons.

Canton Lake dropped to about 13 feet below normal.

“It didn't go up, even during the spring. We didn't get those rains that central Oklahoma did receive,” Converse said.

“Basically what rain we did get was offset by evaporation,” said Ron Chapdelaine, who owns Canton Foods, the only grocery store in town.

“I lost the lake season. There was zero boat traffic,” Chapdelaine said.

He said the town's wintertime population — about 600 — isn't enough for a grocery store to survive. He counts on summer business, when the population usually doubles.

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by Kathryn McNutt
Higher Education Reporter
Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from...
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