Lake Texoma is really feeling the effects of the ongoing drought. Water levels have been dropping, many boat ramps lead to dirt, and some slips are grounded.
That reduces the number of people using the lake for recreation, and hurts the economy of a part of Oklahoma very much dependent on tourism.
What has area residents so upset is that the lake isn’t just being drained by drought, but by the production of hydroelectric power, too. And as The Ada News’ Randy Mitchell reports, for many, it’s a matter of fairness:
Ada resident Rickey Ross said he is very concerned about the amount of water leaving the lake. Concerned enough that he met with a representative of Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhoffe [sic] Thursday to voice those concerns. Ross owns a boat which stays in a marina on Lake Texoma full time.
“The federal government’s current water conservation measures give little to no regard to the impact that low lake levels have on Texoma’s regional economy,” Ross said. “Currently, during drought conditions, many boat ramps, boat slips, and portions of the lake have become unusable due to Texoma’s low water level. This is primarily caused from the release of water for hydropower.
Ross says he recognizes the economic importance of hydropower production as well, but would like to see his own plight also get some acknowledgement.
Shelly Morgan, executive director of the Lake Texoma Association, is trying. She told the paper talks are underway among Oklahoma and Texas lawmakers that could potentially tweak how much water is available for what purpose when drought takes hold.
“It’s along the same line as what the current law is, it’s just changing the different levels at which times and action would occur,” she said.
“… They are already restricting water, supposedly, right now,” Morgan said, “but we know that he Southwest Power Administration is still pulling water out of the dam. You know, you’ve got evaporation … Then we’ve got the drought, same kind of deal, nothing we can do about that, but he fact that the Southwest Power Administration is continuing to pull the water down whenever we are already kind of in a drought circumstance with evaporation and no inflows, then that’s really what is (causing our concern).”