Lake Texoma is down to 609 feet- the lowest it’s been in more than 40 years. The low water levels have caused many of the boat ramps in the lake to be closed. With lake season slowly approaching, many business owners are concerned.
The low water levels started a rumor that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are intentionally draining the lake to supply power to Dallas. The rumor even sparked the creation of a Facebook page called Save Lake Texoma. The page currently has more than 20,000 likes. They say the page was created to “stop the draining of Lake Texoma.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District (USACE) released a press release to address the concerns and rumors. They acknowledged that there are negative impacts associated with the low water levels at Lake Texoma. They said that hydropower and municipal and industrial water supply usage contributes to the low water levels, but went on to say the lake remains critical in meeting electricity and water needs.
Many factors are contributing to the low lake levels. The multi-year extreme drought, below average rainfall since 2009, and significant evaporation losses are all to blame.
“Lake Texoma has significant power and water supply storage that is congressionally authorized for use and paid for by the users,” said Col. Richard Pratt, commander, USACE Tulsa District. “In times of drought, this storage is required to consistently provide water and electricity to the region and this results in a lower lake level. The entities that have water contract agreements with the Corps have a right to their water, and we all acknowledge that fact while emphasizing conservation to limit the long-lasting negative effects on fish, wildlife, and recreational activities.”
Concerned citizens contacted Ralph Hall, U.S. Representative for Texas’ 4th District, about Lake Texoma’s low water levels, and he contacted USACE. All of the groups involved are working to manage the water storage issue.
“Throughout my years in public service, I have had a good working relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers and hold great respect for them due to their knowledge, adherence to the law, and willingness to work collaboratively in order to best serve the American people,” said Hall. “I appreciate the Corps’ efforts on this issue, and I will continue to stay engaged with them as we work to help the people of Texoma during these difficult times of drought. We owe it to the good folks of Texoma to work together and be supportive of efforts that work towards maximum appreciation and use of this great body of water – one of the great lakes of our nation.”
The lake is currently in Drought Level 2 of the district’s Drought Contingency Plan.
“In Drought Level 2, Public Law 100-71 requires that SWPA limit power production to rapid response, short term peaking purposes as determined by the power scheduling entity. Short term peaking generally means full power production of 4-8 hours per day on average, with more generation allowed during electrical emergencies. The Corps has coordinated with SWPA to reduce generation accordingly, with calendar year 2013 being the lowest generation year at Lake Texoma since hydropower operations began in 1945. Such a reduction in power production requires replacement power from more expensive energy sources to meet the region’s electricity needs. The Corps also notifies municipal and industrial water users to implement water conservation measures designed to lessen the impact of their withdrawals.”
If Drought Level 3 is reached there will be a number of actions emphasizing conservation to limit the impacts of the drought. Drought Level 3 begins at lake elevations of 607-599.9 feet.
Check back later this week for tips on helping Oklahoma through the drought and water crisis by conserving resources. And join the conversation on our Facebook page.
Photo Credit- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District (USACE)