Long-awaited widespread rainfall in western and central Oklahoma last weekend means Oklahoma City's lakes can finally take a drink.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun releasing 30,000 acre-feet of water from Canton Lake down the North Canadian River to Lake Overholser and Lake Hefner, officials said. Oklahoma City owns water rights in Lake Canton and needs to replenish drinking water reservoirs depleted by the drought.
The release began Tuesday morning and will last about two weeks. The water takes about five days to reach Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City has been waiting since September for the right time for the release, city Utilities Department spokeswoman Debbie Ragan said. It's best to wait until after widespread rains wet the riverbed, she said.
“We knew with the dry riverbed, we would lose most of the water released into the riverbed,” Ragan said. “And that's just not in the best interest of ... Canton or either of the Oklahoma City lakes.”
A third of the Canton Lake water will be absorbed into the riverbed even after the rain last weekend, and it would have been worse if officials hadn't waited, she said.