Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

January 25, 2014

Those concerned want more stable levels of Lake Texoma

Ada — Residents concerned about the condition of Lake Texoma say they don't want to deprive anyone of water or electricity, they just want less water taken from the lake when the water level drops.

 Ada resident Rickey Ross said he is very concerned about the amount of water leaving the lake. Concerned enough that he met with a representative of Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhoffe Thursday to voice those concerns. Ross owns a boat which stays in a marina on Lake Texoma full-time.

“The federal government’s current water conservation measures give little to no regard to the impact that low lake levels have on Texoma's regional economy,” Ross said. “Currently, during drought conditions, many boat ramps, boat slips, and portions of the lake have become unusable due to Texoma's low water level. This is primarily caused from the release of water for hydropower.

“Most responsible boat owners, business owners, lake enthusiasts, and local residents recognize the importance of lake Texoma's water in regards to hydropower and drinking water, but want the federal government to recognize the adverse effects low lake levels have on Texoma’s regional economy and enact more stringent water conservation measures during drought conditions that will take effect prior to the regional economy being adversely affected.”

“Lake Texoma, we all know is our economic engine for this area,” said Shelley Morgan, executive director of Lake Texoma Association. “So, of course we want to protect and preserve it as much as we possibly can. I mean conservation is always an issue, especially for a valuable resource like water.” The Lake Texoma Association is a non-profit group which represents people and businesses involved with the lake.

Morgan said the LTA is working with Oklahoma and Texas legislators to change current laws regarding the amount of water which can be taken/released from the lake during times of drought.

“It’s along the same line as what the current law is, it’s just changing the different levels at which times and action would occur,” she said. Morgan knows that even though spring rains usually fill the lake, future drought can bring the level down again.

“Unless we get the law changed, we're going to be fighting this every year,” Morgan said. “We’re going to continue down this path no matter what, because that's the mission of Lake Texoma Association is to protect and preserve Lake Texoma, and so it’s part of our fundamental responsibility to make sure that happens.”

“They are already restricting water, supposedly, right now,” Morgan said, “but we know that the Southwest Power Administration is still pulling water out of the dam. You know, you’ve got evaporation, which is always the biggest hurdle to conserving our water and there's nothing we can do about that, that’s Mother Nature at her finest. Then we've got the drought, same kind of deal, nothing we can do about that, but the fact that the Southwest Power Administration is continuing to pull the water down whenever we are already kind of in a drought circumstance with evaporation and no inflows, then that's really what is (causing our concern)."

Later this week: What defines an emergency?

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