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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

They are going to release the water from Canton Lake.

So they are going to start letting water out of the lake tomorrow morning. My heart is very sad for this situation, and it feels like I have been kicked in the groin! Our lake is such a vital part of our local economy and many of my friends and family who own businesses will now pay the price for other's misuse of water and lack of conservation. Still praying for rain to refill our lake and to fill their's as well, even though all forecasts are calling for extended drought. We appear to have lost this battle, but I assure you the war is far from over. The association went into this fight with the attitude it would be a long one, we are prepared to stay the course.
Mark Fuqua
CLA Board Member

Thursday, January 24, 2013

PR from Sen. Marlatt

Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release:  January 24, 2012

Sen. Marlatt urges OKC to adopt more aggressive water conservation; says planned draw down would kill Canton Lake for 5 to 10 years
 (For digital audio, go to and select “Media”)

OKLAHOMA CITY –Taking an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water from Canton Lake would only be a temporary fix for Oklahoma City’s water woes, but the immediate and long-term impact on western Oklahoma would be devastating, with repercussions for the entire state, said State Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward.  He urged Oklahoma City officials to be better stewards of the resource—and better neighbors to Western Oklahoma.
The state’s largest city announced watering limits last week, but Marlatt said that move was really too little, too late.  This week it was reported that the city’s water utilities department will present plans for more aggressive conservation measures, including higher prices and increased rationing, over the next few weeks.   Marlatt said those should be enacted before taking water from western Oklahoma.
“Everyone knows we are in a prolonged drought, and cutting back on outdoor watering in the dead of winter really isn’t a solution.  Oklahoma City’s ultimate plan is a huge draw on Canton Lake, the main recreational lake in western Oklahoma, but this is essentially going to kill our lake,” Marlatt said.  “Legally, they have the right to do it.  But it doesn’t make it morally right.  Oklahoma City needs to do everything it possibly can to avoid this draw down for as long as possible.”
Canton Lake is not only important to fisherman who head there for the plentiful walleye, sand bass, catfish and more—it is also the walleye hatchery for the entire state.  The plan to draw an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water would end that.
 “It is essentially going to kill the lake for five to 10 years.  All the game fish that people come for will die out, and there will be no more walleye hatchery,” Marlatt said.  “This is going to have a negative impact on lakes throughout Oklahoma.”
Although Oklahoma City has the legal rights to the water in Canton Lake, it is still a critical part of western Oklahoma’s tourism and recreation, but like the hatchery, any recreational use of the lake will become a thing of the past once the water is gone.

“Once they draw the water, recreational boating will be nonexistent.  The remaining water will not reach a single boat ramp.  People who come to boat and fish will stop coming and it’s going to impact local economies—restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and cabin rentals will see all those dollars go away,” Marlatt said. “That’s going to have a chain reaction in our local economy.”
Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said it is critical for Oklahoma City to view taking the water from Lake Canton as a last resort to be avoided as long as possible.  He also urged the metro to look at more aggressive ways to limit water use.
“The economic and environmental impact to Canton and western Oklahoma will be felt for years to come if this goes through,” Sanders said.  “This is a dire situation, and the fact of the matter is, if they aren’t conserving water, then they are actually wasting water.  We simply don’t have the water to waste.”
Marlatt called the situation a disaster for western Oklahoma, and a potential disaster for Oklahoma City.
“At best, this is only a temporary fix for Oklahoma City,” Marlatt said.  “But once they take this water from Canton Lake, that’s it--the water will be gone and people in both parts of the state are going to pay the price for Oklahoma City not doing more to conserve this precious resource.”

Results of the meeting with the Colonel of the Corps Tulsa Dist.

On 1/23/2013 board members of the Canton Lake Association (CLA) met with Colonel Michael Teague and associates including hydrologist Kelita Stephens at the District Corps of  Engineers office in Tulsa. Also in attendance was former Canton resident Earl Groves, Chief of Operations, for the Tulsa District. Earl has a very good understanding of the Canton Lake project as he served as a Park Ranger at Canton during his college years. The meeting was scheduled for only one hour but lasted much closer to two, as the conversations were two-sided and flowing smoothly with all parties being deeply engaged.
CLA members who attended the meeting were Pres. Jeff Converse, VP Curtis Hoskins, Tom Adams, Rupert Nowlin, Mark Fuqua, Troy Everett and future member Jerrod Geiger.
The CLA scheduled the meeting to express concerns regarding the proposed 30,000 acre-feet water grab by Oklahoma City which will obviously affect recreational users of the lake and the economies of business and communities that rely on lake visitation.  The Colonel was very receptive to the points made by the board members and shared his concerns for both the short and long term health of Canton Lake. He encouraged the board that they were on the right track and not to give up but to keep pushing forward with efforts to save our lake.
Among the many items that were brought to the table by the CLA included:
The frustration and challenges felt by the Canton Lake community that began with the spring tornado in 2011 and were exacerbated by water releases in May-June and Oct-Nov 2011 and persistent drought throughout 2012.
The fact that Oklahoma City has not acted as good stewards of the water they have received in the past and have been negligent, perhaps irresponsible, in properly planning for the longer-term water demands for an ever-growing population in the metro area.
The fact that Lake Hefner, the sole water source for northwest Oklahoma City contains close to 40,000 acre-feet of water which could possibly provide enough water to the city for a few months to get us into spring. We would hope spring rains could refill Hefner and Overholser. This could prevent them needing to draw water from Canton at this time and in the near future.
There is approximately 51,000 acre-feet in Canton now, or that is assumed anyway based on the math without factoring sediment. The variable in the equation is the sediment that has silted into the lake and is taking up space at the bottom of the inactive pool level. Since no sedimentation study has been done since 1977, it’s hard to know exactly what the condition of that situation is. One estimate was that instead of the 111,000 acre feet that the lake was built to store, it may only be able to hold around 90,000 acre feet now due to sediment. A sedimentation study is scheduled to be done on Canton Lake at a later date.
Environmental issues including a possible blue-green algal bloom and fish kill following the proposed water release.
Possible involvement and effects upon federally endangered species such as the Bald Eagle, Interior Least Tern and Arkansas River Shiner.
Decreased revenue to the Corps from reduced usage fees from unusable boat ramps and less visitation to campgrounds.
Economic effects of reduced to non-existent lake visitation on local businesses and the people they employee.
From Bald Eagle habitat to the loss of all fish in the lake, there wasn't anything left unsaid and almost every point was discussed thoroughly by both parties.
There was much discussion about how OKC has not done due diligence on educating their populous on water conservation or mandating rationing of the water they have already taken from Canton Lake. Also discussed was the fact that the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust (OCWUT)  just  keeps  adding more communities to their water supply and  providing more and more water for additional houses in surrounding towns.  
The Colonel stated concerns over budgeting issues within the Corps and the lack of funds to complete needed projects. He also encouraged the CLA to continue their efforts in engaging State and Federal Representatives and Senators to fight on behalf of the people and the long term health of Canton Lake and it’s surrounding economies.
The Colonel and his team also expressed the facts of how hard it is for changes to be made in a single contract due to the “no earmarking” legislation in place at this time. Contracts such as the one concerning Canton Lake between the Corps and the OCWUT, which currently provides 90,000 acre feet of water storage for municipal water supply for the residents of the NW part of OKC would be hard to change individually. It would almost require legislative wording that would or could affect all lakes storing water for municipal use.
It was a very informative meeting that helped the board members of the CLA better understand the Corps role in storing water in their lakes for many different uses, and their balancing act of making the best use of that water for all involved in it’s intended use. The board now has a better understanding of what the Corp can and cannot do according to its’ contractual obligations, and or what the different catalysts would need to be for them to be able to suspend a requested water withdraw. The Colonel stated that he cannot single handedly stop a release once it’s called for by the organization which holds the storage rights. He said he and the Corp would not want to encourage a lawsuit from the OCWUT.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the CLA asked if the Colonel would contact the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust on our behalf, and express that he felt it was in the best interest of Canton Lake and everyone involved for OKC to not draw water at this time, but to try and utilize the water in Lake Hefner first. He said he would be happy to do that and would be making that contact very soon. The board members of the CLA were excited to hear this as it just may buy us more time in this battle to save Canton Lake.

Changing OKC's perception of the drought.

Little by little our efforts are effecting change in the tone of those in power over the water in OKC. When we started this battle a while back they were not planning to implement severe water rationing and or rate increases to the higher water users until late in 2014. It appears as though they are feeling the heat and going to make those adjustments sooner rather than later. Keep up the fight to educate not only the officials but also the residents of OKC. Many of them have no idea water is in short supply in most of their water supply lakes.

CBS News interviews Colonel Michael Teague about the drought in Oklahoma.

While this video does not address Canton directly it does address the drought that is plaguing Corp lakes all across Oklahoma. It gives an idea of what the Colonel is dealing with across the state. The Canton Lake Association learned a lot yesterday in our meeting with the Colonel, about various situations at different lakes that are under the Corps control and have many different interested or invested parties wanting to do different things with the water. The Colonel said this drought is a serious issue and the Corp has been tracking it and trying to get the word out to officials for quite some time about the severity of it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

John Stahl from Dept. of Wildlife Video

John Stahl from the Dept. of Wildlife speaks at the Canton Lake Association meeting. His prediction is we will have a total fish kill if the lake is taken down another 7 feet due to OKC taking a water draw. Could take as long as 5 to 8 years for the lake to have a healthy fish supply again. 30 years and millions of tax payer dollars would be wasted, as well as local economies wrecked in several towns in NW OK if this water is taken out of the lake.

Meeting with the Colonel of the Corps of Engineers

Some members of the board of the Canton Lake Association will travel to Tulsa tomorrow to meet with U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Michael J. Teague
Tulsa District Commander and discuss the concerns of the intended water draw by OKC and it's dire consequences on the lake's ecosystem and the negative effects on the surrounding communities. We hope to discuss options for the short and long term that may alleviate future instances such as the one we are faced with at this time. We will keep you posted with the results.

Water problems from Canton Lake

Residents in OKC and dependent cities still do not understand the gravity of the situation. Canton Lake is currently OVER 9 feet low. This drawdown is 7.5 feet. Canton Lake's normal pool is 1615. ft. At the end of this draw, Canton Lake will only be a couple of feet above the inactive pool. You will not be able to draw from Canton again until it fills to a drawable level. It doesn't matter what storage space you control if there is NO WATER in your space. Even if it fills a couple of feet, you can call for the water, but none will arrive in OKC. It will be "used up" in the riverbed. Canton Lake will not have the water, nor will OKC.

This draw will kill ALL the fish in Canton Lake. They can not add fish until the water reaches a sustainable level. It will take 5 years once the level is sustainable to rebuild the fish population.

All the fancy PR people, city board, Mayor Mic and the rest cannot get water where there is NONE. OKC must look at other sources, Canton cannot sustain your luxury use of water in this drought. Mayor Mic went after the fatties, demanding OKC loose weight….how about a similar project for water waste and conservation?

Legal, Moral...Ethical??

While we realize OKC has every right to the water in the lake due to their storage contract, sometimes something greater than rights comes into play and a moral compass should be used to check our actions. The small amount of good that will come from the amount of water they will receive is a very short term fix for them in this extended drought situation facing our state and much of the nation. While they have the right to take the water, is it morally correct to wreck and destroy Canton Lake, possibly kill all the fish in it and cause many people of Western OK to loose their jobs and businesses? I think most would agree it's not. We have heard from experts from the Fish and Game Dept that if this water is released it is highly probable that we will have a total fish kill in Canton lake. We don't need experts to tell us what will happen to local businesses and employees due to lack of lake traffic, it will be devastating to many communities of Western Oklahoma who depend on lake traffic to support them and their employees. It will also hurt most other lakes in the state as Canton lake supplies the Walleye that those lakes are stocked with. It will do OKC a small amount of good for a short time, but it will do our area great harm for a long time. It just doesn't add up.

Contact Senator Tom Ivester

This Senator doesn't seem to really care to much about the opinions of Western Oklahoma folks. We need to give him a good talking to via email, mail and phone. Please choose your preferred form of communication and let him know how important Canton Lake is to the good people of Western Oklahoma! 

Capitol Address
Senator Tom Ivester
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 529A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5545
Executive Assistant: Pam McLerran P.O. Box 1950
Elk City, OK 73648
Oklahoma House of Representative Legislature's Website where you can follow the introduction of bills, committee actions, and votes on the bills.

Places where people are talking about Canton Lake and or water abuse.

CLA meeting with Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust

In a meeting last week board members of the Canton Lake Association met with Marsha Slaughter manager of the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust and her colleagues to discuss concerns of the intended draw down of Canton Lake. Mrs. Slaughter and her organization, which currently hold a contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers for water storage rights in Canton Lake wish to take another 30,000 acre feet of water which would lower the lake another 7.3 feet.This proposed draw of water would be to provide drinking water for nearly 200,000 residents of OKC according to Mrs. Slaughter.

In addition to the already 9 feet below normal pool the lake is at currently, this would bring the Canton lake level to it’s lowest point since sometime in the 1950’s. According to experts from the Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife, it is very likely we will experience a major fish kill in the lake next summer if spring rains do not refill the lake to a healthy level. Rains certainly can not be counted on with the current drought pattern enveloping this part of the nation.

For nearly two hours both sides expressed their concerns and tried to gain a better understanding of the other’s point of view. There were questions and discussion as to any other options that might possibly be available to at least postpone the taking of water until March or April. A delay would allow a period of time for spring rains which would in turn lessen the devastating effects a drawdown would have on Canton Lake. Beneficial spring rains in central and western Oklahoma could supplement or fill storage lakes Overholser and Hefner and greatly reduce or even eliminate the release of water from Canton Lake.

The lack of water rationing and conservation on the part of the residents of OKC was discussed and met with arguments from Mrs. Slaughter’s camp, one of which was Oklahoma City is currently one of the most efficient cities in the nation as far as water consumption rates per population. While this sounds good in theory, it is the opinion of the Canton Lake Association that rationing and conservation orders could have at least been implemented beforehand thus reducing the crisis before us now. The result of those orders could have been the gap needed until the arrival of beneficial spring rains, which at least in western Oklahoma have the potential to greatly reduce or diffuse the issue altogether.

The Canton Lake Association members expressed the need for education to begin immediately for the residents of OKC and surrounding communities who rely on the water from the lake, to understand the severity of the current drought situation and how to implement water conserving practices which should have been implemented months ago. It is Canton Lake Association’s opinion that the Oklahoma City residents served by the water from Canton Lake have no idea of the severity of the drought situation or the Water Utilities Trust’s ability or inability to provide them water once the water from Canton Lake has been exhausted. Canton Lake not having water for Oklahoma City next year could be highly likely once this water draw is taken, coupled with Canton Lake not receiving needed spring rains to replenish lake supplies. Essentially Mrs. Slaughter confessed after much questioning, that her organization had no viable second option in place at this time to capture water. She stated they had purchased the rights to the water storage in Canton Lake and they intended to execute those rights.

There is currently 40,000 acre feet of water available in lake Hefner, at least half of which could possibly be used to provide the residents served by Canton Lake water, with over 100 days of water or more. When questioned as to why they can’t use that water to buy time to get us into spring rain season before a Canton Lake withdraw, Mrs. Slaughter expressed that she is leery of trying to rely on that water as they have never been this low on water and she is concerned they can’t access that water due to poor engineering of the pumping structure from the lake to the treatment facility. This answer seemed skeptic and unacceptable to the Canton Lake Association who believes that OKC has an obligation to exhaust all of their resources before pulling Canton Lake down to unhealthy levels that could cause massive ecological and economic devastation to the lake and to communities in NW OK.

At the close of the meeting board members of the Canton Lake Association felt a small victory had been accomplished if only in the fact that Mrs. Slaughter is now planning to wait at least 2 to 3 weeks before taking the draw unless we receive rainfall to saturate the river bed in which case she may call for the release sooner, but we believe she will call for the water sometime in the next month regardless of rain.

The board has a lot of other plans in place to help stall this release.