Woodward, Okla. —
CANTON LAKE LEVELS ARE ALREADY LOW
Hoskins said the normal storage capacity of Canton Lake was 111,310 acre feet, and that it currently only contained 51,659 acre feet, leaving it 46% capacity. Whereas Hefner, which normally contains around 69,893 acre feet still has 40,210 acre feet, putting it at 58% capacity.
The proposed 30,000 acre feet withdraw from Canton would leave the lake with 29,651 acre feet or at 27% capacity, he said. This would leave only about couple feet of water in the conservation pool, which is expected to be lost to evaporation within a few short months.
"I just think we need to review every possible option before we make any decisions this serious," Hoskins said.
Marsha Slaughter with the Oklahoma City Water Resource Utility Board says efforts have been made to conserve the water currently within Lake Hefner.
Slaughter said that seasonal water conservation efforts have been in effect in Oklahoma City as well as the surrounding areas it sells water to.
Hoskins criticized these efforts however, saying they've been primarily voluntary efforts.
"The only mandatory water rationing I've been aware of was even and odd watering days from August 2, 2012 to August 14, 2012," he said.
Slaughter also said Oklahoma City is currently pumping water upstream from lakes in southeast Oklahoma as well as discussing the purchase of water from various other areas as alternative means of attaining water.
These alternative means may become necessary however after the scheduled 7.3 foot draw from Canton Lake, Stahl said.
"Dropping the lake 7.3 feet will leave 2.7 feet of Oklahoma City's water allotment in Canton Lake, but chances are, with the lake is losing about 0.5 feet per month through evaporation, that the remaining 2.7 feet would be lost within about five months. So after this, basically the cup will be empty," Stahl said.
SAFEGUARDS NEEDED TO PROTECT CANTON, OTHER LAKES
Following a recent public meeting at the Canton Community Center, the concerns of Canton residents may have been heard, as the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust is scheduled to meet with the Canton Lake Association on Wednesday, Jan. 16 to further discuss the water draw.
Hoskins seemed optimistic about the meeting, saying "I think it's important for everyone to sit down and reevaluate the negative aspects that are going to occur from a water release right now. We've done quite a bit of research and we know what the impacts will be on our end, we need to see what the impacts will be on their end. So we need to sit down and talk it over and hopefully reach a compromise that'll work for both parties."
Hoskins says their concerns for lake conservation aren't just restricted to Canton lake however, but with lakes statewide.
"Oklahoma City doesn't own the water in Canton, they have a permit for use of the water, which the state of Oklahoma issues," he said. "I think in the future there will need to be safeguards put into place, not just with Canton, but with lakes with storage contracts across Oklahoma, to protect the fisheries and the wildlife that rely on them. This is what we're striving towards, to get some change and protection, because this doesn't only affect wildlife and the environment, but the communities that depend on them as well."
Hoskins continued, "The people of these communities live off the products of the lake, and without people coming in for the lake there's no money to be made. We're working on both the Federal and State level to have more investigation put into the matter to see if there's any safeguards that can be put into place or legislation passed to protect these lakes."
He said he encourages those concerned with the conservation of lakes across Oklahoma to contact their state and federal representatives to let them know that the preservation of lake's ecosystems and the communities that rely on them is a necessity as well as to ask what's being done to safeguard them.
Hoskins advised that those interested can contact US Sen. Tom Coburn at (405) 231-4941, US Sen. Jim Inhofe at (405) 608-4381, and US Rep. Frank Lucas at (405) 373-1958. He also encourages people to contact their state representative as well.