The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 23, 2013

OKC officials jumped the gun draining Canton Lake

ENID, Okla. — What a difference 100 miles make.

In January, drought prompted Oklahoma City officials to start diverting billions of gallons from Canton Lake.

Flowing down the North Canadian River, the released water was diverted into Lake Hefner.

Ironically, OKC’s tap water won a “best of the best” award this month for its taste during the annual conference of the American Water Works Association.

Up the river, Canton Lake is a depressing 13 feet below its normal level.

“I think the lake is dying,” Jeff Converse, president of Canton Lake Association, told The Associated Press. “The low water level is one thing, but now we’ve got an algae bloom going on. It’s pea-green soup.”

In January, we said OKC has the legal rights to the Canton water, but we wished officials had waited to take it.

We hate to say we told you so, but it appears OKC officials pulled the trigger too soon on draining Canton. The dying lake needs more moisture, and the rainy season is almost over.

Meanwhile, heavy rainfall filled Lake Hefner to the brim in May.

Now officials must drain water from Lake Hefner to prevent it from overflowing.

Because of the heavy rainfall last month, officials said more than 23,000 acre-feet of water was released from Hefner early this month into Lake Overholser and ultimately back into the North Canadian River.

“Wish we had a crystal ball at the time? Yes,” Debbie Ragan, a spokeswoman for OKC’s water utility, told AP. “We did what we thought was best at the time for our customers. We can’t predict the weather. We can’t predict the future. We can take some steps to be better prepared.”

Too bad it won’t flow upstream.

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