TULSA – Dredging of Waurika Lake, to reclaim water storage for six southwestern Oklahoma municipalities began Nov. 3.
The dredging operation is the culmination of months of planning by the Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District, which requested approval from the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the intake channel in 2014.
At the time of the request, the region was in a severe drought and Waurika Lake was 17 feet below the top of the conservation pool. Access to available water was limited by sedimentation in the intake channel which reduced the volume of available water supply in the conservation pool by 68 percent.
“We had to cut everyone’s water usage by 10 percent and we were on the verge of cutting usage even more before the rains in May and June,” said Jack Jackson, President, WMLCD, who has been a resident of the area since the 1950s. “We had never seen a drought that required those kinds of measures.”
The dredging operation will remove approximately 77,000 cubic yards of sediment from the intake channel that has built up since the impoundment that formed Waurika Lake began in 1977.
Waurika Lake was 20 feet below the top of the conservation pool when, unprecedented rainfall in May 2015 caused the lake to reach normal levels in only 22 days. The rainfall caused flooding throughout the Tulsa District, and prompted the Waurika Lake project office to begin flood control operations.
During the opening ceremony for the dredging operation, Lt. Col. Daniel Young, deputy commander, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, praised the WLMCD for moving forward with the dredging project after the summer floods.
“Despite the return of water levels, the WLMCD decided to invest in the future of their water conservation resource,” Young said. “This project will remove nearly 77,000 cubic yards of sedimentation and improve the intake structures, reclaiming valuable storage space for Waurika Lake’s water conservation and flood risk management missions. You should be commended for your foresight and for your investment in the region’s water supply.”
The sediment is being pumped into a 17 acre containment area on WMLCD property.
Waurika Lake provides water to more than 275,000 people in six municipalities. In addition to water supply, Waurika Lake’s missions include flood control, irrigation, water quality, recreation and fish and wildlife.