The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 30, 2013

Oklahoma City’s reasons for taking water from Canton Lake just aren’t good enough

Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — We’re disappointed to see Oklahoma City officials formally request the release of water from Canton Lake.

We are well aware Oklahoma City legally has the rights to the water, and once officials there ask the Army Corps of Engineers for the water, the Corps is required to release it.

And, that’s what happened Wednesday when the Corps began the process — which could take three weeks — of releasing the water and sending it to the North Canadian River and then to Lake Hefner.

The release is legal. But, was it the right thing to do morally?

We say no.

Oklahoma City is experiencing a water shortage, as is just about the rest of the state — including the Canton area. Two years of prolonged drought will do that.

However, Oklahoma City’s shortage — by it’s own officials’ admission — is not critical. Serious, yes, but not critical at this time.

So why ask for the water now?

According to Debbie Ragan, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Public Utilities Department, Oklahoma City officials called for the water because of recent rains that will help prevent water loss due to dry river beds.

Sorry, that’s not a good enough reason now, given the possible impact to Canton Lake and the Canton area.

Recreation is a secondary purpose for the lake. Flood control and water supply are the primary purposes, but you can’t blame people in Canton for taking advantage of having a lake by creating things like the Walleye Rodeo and creating businesses that rely on people coming to the lake.

There is a real fear that taking 30,000 acre-feet of water, which is what Oklahoma City is seeking, will greatly harm the lake. The level of water at the lake already is down from previous withdrawals, not to mention the ongoing drought.

Canton residents fear an even lower water level will result in fish kills and algae blooms, and that it could take years for the lake to recover when the rains finally come.

We wish Oklahoma City had waited before seeking the water.