The intensifying drought in Oklahoma this summer is revealing itself in stubbornly low lake levels.
Lakes that had barely started to recover from last summer's disastrous drought are struggling, and in many cases failing, to stave off another decline this year, state lake level data show.
Among the lakes that are the worst off this year are northwestern Oklahoma's Canton Lake, part of Oklahoma City's drinking water reservoir system, and Lake Altus-Lugert, vital to crop irrigation in southwestern Oklahoma.
The lakes are not as bad off as they were this time last year, said Gary McManus, associate state climatologist. But the situation won't change without more rain.
“It begins and ends with the lack of rainfall,” he said. “That's the single most important factor.”
Canton was tapped
by OKC last year
The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust tapped its reserves in Canton Lake last year to fill up Lake Hefner and Lake Overholser in northwestern Oklahoma City.
Hefner and Overholser are down only 5 feet and 3 feet from normal, respectively, so far this year, but Canton has struggled to recover.
Only about half of Canton's conservation storage capacity is available.
Evaporation will continue to take its toll until rain comes.
“We estimate that it's going to take another year to refill,” said city Utilities Department spokeswoman Debbie Ragan.