By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The day Canton area residents were worried about has come, a Canton Lake Association member said.
The Army Corps of Engineers will begin releasing 30,000 acre-feet of water to Oklahoma City this morning. Mark Fuqua, a resident of Canton and CLA member, confirmed the water release Tuesday evening.
“It’s the official word. Oklahoma City called the Corps, and they notified us,” Fuqua said.
He expects the release to begin first thing this morning. Taking 30,000 acre-feet of water will nearly dry up the lake, he said.
However, Fuqua said the situation may not be as it seems. Nobody knows what the siltation factor is — how much sediment is in the lake. He said no one knows if there even is 30,000 acre-feet of water remaining in the lake and, if so, whether it can get to the release gates.
“Will it pool up because the siltation along the river bed?” he asked.
At one time, there was 111,000 acre-feet of water stored in the lake, Fuqua said.
“We had a drawdown in 2011, and it’s been so dry, we haven’t made it up,” he said.
Fuqua’s business primarily is in Weatherford, but he has family and friends who have businesses in Canton who will be badly hurt by the loss of the water in the lake. Taking the water during a time of drought will not be good for Canton and may kill the lake, he said.
“It’s bad enough they are doing it, but tremendously bad in a year in a pattern of extended drought. Seventy percent of the U.S. in a drought, with no relief expected,” he said.
Oklahoma City is taking the water now to take advantage of saturated river beds, but there is little hope of Canton Lake recuperating, Fuqua said.
“If we don’t have spring rains, the fish will die,” he said.
“It’s highly likely the lake will turn algae blue and will suffocate the fish if it gets hot again.”
Fuqua said Oklahoma City has not been a good steward of the water.
“The innocent will pay for the sins of the many who didn’t do due diligence on water conservation,” he said.
He said 200,000 people depend on the water from Canton.
Canton Lake was built for flood control, water supply and irrigation. Later, secondary purposes were included that added wildlife habitat and recreation. Oklahoma City pays the Corps $200,000 a year, which covers about 25 percent of the costs, for the water.쇓