After two years of drought in January 2013, Oklahoma City was in desperate need of more water. Boats were grounded at Lake Hefner, one of the city’s main sources of water, which was devastated by drought.
That’s when the decision was made to use Oklahoma City’s right to the water stored in Canton Lake, about 100 miles northwest. Nearly 10 billion gallons were diverted from Canton Lake to Lake Hefner, a third of which soaked into the North Canadian River bed.
That was bad news for Canton, because the lake has a big economic impact on the small city of about 600. And as the Enid News & Eagle‘s Robert Barron reports, many area residents expected the lake would have recovered by now:
While rainfall this year has helped push back the lengthy drought, it has not fallen in the drainage basin for the lake.
“The rain usually goes downstream. We have a very narrow drainage basin system,” [Army Corps of Engineers Canton Lake Project Manager Kathy] Carlson said. “Any significant rainfall with runoff is not occurring in our drainage basin above the lake. … Many of us thought it would have come back quite a bit by now. In the past, it had bounced back pretty quickly,” she said. “At this rate, it will take a long time.
The [conservation plan] encourages landowners to proactively manage property in exchange for financial support. Agreements with participating landowners will aim to improve habitat conditions for the lesser prairie-chicken, increase populations and provide for long-term conservation of the species. The RWP also establishes a framework for mitigating impacts from the wide range of activities covered under the RWP, with a goal of providing a net conservation benefit to lesser prairie-chicken.
The Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the Keystone Gulf pipeline should be complete by the end of October, and in operation by the end of the year or early-2014. Oil traders and energy investors are watching the project closely because it will help relieve the glut of oil bottlenecked in Oklahoma’s Cushing oil hub.
While debate has raged around the 1,179-mile northern leg of the Keystone XL, which aims to bring heavy crude from the oil sands of western Canada into the U.S. and requires federal approval because it crosses international borders, TransCanada has spent the past year quietly building the southern leg. Although most people haven’t paid it much attention, oil investors have been watching like hawks.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June sided with Oklahoma, ruling the interstate Red River water compact did not entitle Texas to water within Oklahoma’s borders.
But the permit application the Tarrant Regional Water District from north Texas filed in 2007 filed in hopes of pumping water out of southeastern Oklahoma remains open and active, and state water authorities haven’t acted on it, the Journal Record’s M. Scott Carter reports:
“We’re still trying to decide what to do with that,” OWRB Executive Director J.D. Strong tells the paper.
Parts of southwestern Oklahoma are still dealing with extreme and exceptional drought conditions, and Waurika Lake — which provides drinking water to Lawton and surrounding communities — is suffering badly as a result.
The Lawton Constitution reports water levels were at record lows this week, and explains what it would take for the lake to become full again:
On Tuesday, the important area water source was standing at just 44 percent of its conservation pool. While that amount to 82,000 acre feet of water, enough water to cover 82,000 acres a foot deep, it would take rainfall equivalent to 100,000 acre feet to fill the lake up.
A larger than usual crowd packs the OWRB's monthly meeting in Midwest City to hear the board vote Wednesday afternoon.
Supporters let out a big cheer Wednesday after the Oklahoma Water Resources Board voted to cap the amount of water that can be taken from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, the source of drinking water for communities across a large area of south-central Oklahoma.
The decision was 10 years in the making, and came about — in part — because some landowners were concerned that limestone and sand mining was draining the aquifer too quickly.
Digging a quarter-mile wide hole hundreds of feet deep displaces a lot of aquifer water. And if the water level of the aquifer drops below where it enters streams and springs, towns like Ada, Tishomingo and Davis will have to find another source.
So in 2003, area legislators set out to make sure that didn’t happen. A law was passed that ordered the water board to determine how much water could safely be removed from the Arbuckle-Simpson without disturbing those springs and streams.
Central Oklahoma is still experiencing a “significant rise” in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes, and federal and state seismologists are collaborating to study possible links to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, the U.S. Geological Survey says.
From 1975-2008, central Oklahoma averaged between one to three 3.0-magnitude quakes a year. That annual average grew to about 40 per year from 2009 to mid-2013, federal seismologist Bill Leith wrote on the USGS website. As a result, the USGS has raised central Oklahoma’s earthquake “hazard” risk to account for more frequent and more damaging earthquakes, a move that is forcing municipalities to reconsider building codes.
Since 2009, central Oklahoma has experienced more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes, Leith writes. This swarm includes Oklahoma’s largest earthquake on record, the 5.7-magnitude quake that shook near Prague in November 2011, injured two people and damaged more than a dozen homes. Other researchers had already concluded the Prague quake was likely triggered by disposal wells.
Oklahoma is seismically active, but many recent quakes don’t appear to be naturally occurring, Leith writes:
“We’ve statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates,” Leith writes. Continue Reading →
StateImpact reporter Joe Wertz was a guest on OETA’s Oklahoma News Report last week to discuss his report on how wind farms interfere with weather radar. Wertz and host Dick Pryor talked about the phenomenon, which is worrying forecasters and weather researchers as the wind industry grows in Oklahoma and other wind-rich states.
The episode first aired on Oct. 18. StateImpact’s segment is embedded above.
Supporters of the oil and gas industry ‘blasted’ environmental regulations and a campaign against fossil fuels at an Oct. 17 energy policy conference in downtown Tulsa, the Tulsa World’s Susan Hylton reports.
Conference speakers included Bob Tippee, editor of the Oil & Gas Journal, who assailed President Barack Obama’s “extremist” environmentalist supporters, and William Yeatman, an energy policy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who went after federal regional haze rules.