The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 20, 2013

We’re hopeful Congress can come up with funding for Great Salt Plains Lake

Enid News & Eagle

— Great Salt Plains Lake is in limbo.

In 2010, the Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa district, conducted an initial appraisal study on the lake. That study was the first part in an anticipated series of studies to determine what direction to take with the lake.

Unfortunately, the federal budget situation so far has put any further studies on hold.

The next step would be a reconnaissance study, which would be 100 percent federally funded. Nate Herring, spokesman for the Corps of Engineers, said the request for the desired study is in the hands of Congress, which so far has not acted.

When — or even if — that will happen remains to be seen.

The initial appraisal study gave different options for improving flood control, fish stock, wildlife and recreation at the lake. The possibility of no action was visited in each of the sections, but several solutions were put forth, as well.

Removing or redistributing sediments in the lake could help improve flood control, or the district could raise the height of the spillway or install retrofitted gates.

Removing sediments and raising the spillway also could help restore the fishery at the lake. The lake also needs oxygen levels elevated, and installing high performance aerating weirs would help that cause.

Now, though, it appears dredging is not an option.

Kathy Carlson, Army Corps of Engineers project manager at Canton Lake, who also has jurisdiction over Great Salt Plains Lake, said there are no plans to dredge the lake, because it is not economically feasible.

That leaves the lake in limbo.

The next step will be up to the federal government. Without funding, further study is not possible.

We hope Congress can come together and get the budget situation solved, although that seems to be a long shot.