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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
/articleid/3740352/1/pictures/1914447">Photo - The twin bridges on Alameda Street at Lake Thunderbird show a receding shoreline. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN <strong>STEVE SISNEY</strong>
The twin bridges on Alameda Street at Lake Thunderbird show a receding shoreline. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN STEVE SISNEY

Oklahoma is experiencing an extreme to exceptional drought that has been ongoing for about two and a half years, Worden said. Predictions are that the drought could continue and intensify, he said.

“It is a serious drought. Everybody knows it is serious. There's some talk it may be shaping up to be a 1950s type drought, the drought of record in Oklahoma,” he said.

The conservancy district is involved in studies to identify alternate water sources for central Oklahoma, Worden said.

Federal legislation that would allow the importation of water to Lake Thunderbird from outside sources — other existing lakes or lakes that have yet to be constructed — has passed the U.S. House of Representatives but is stalled in a U.S. Senate committee, he said.

Hope is dwindling this year that it will get passed, he said, “but we view this legislation as critical to our water supply needs here in central Oklahoma.”

If it doesn't pass this year, supporters will renew efforts next session to get the legislation adopted, Worden said.

The conservancy district also is studying the reuse of wastewater effluent “by taking it, treating it and returning it to Lake Thunderbird.”

The best option would be to phase in treated effluent from both the Moore and Norman wastewater treatment plants, he said.

Daniels said Norman also is working on a 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan to address Norman's water supply needs for the next 40 to 50 years.

Officials are evaluating a range of potential water supply sources that include the Kiamichi River or Sardis Lake in southeast Oklahoma, Kaw Lake in north central Oklahoma, Scissortail Lake, west of Ada, and Parker Reservoir, east of Ada. Scissortail Lake and Parker Reservoir have been proposed but not built.

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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