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Congress Puts Lake Thunderbird on Life Support as Water Levels Plummet

Filed by KOSU News in State Impact.
January 3, 2013

Residents in Norman, Del City and Midwest City get their drinking water from Lake Thunderbird, but levels have dropped during Oklahoma’s ongoing drought.

Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal says the situation is “dire,” but Congress has stepped in with a short-term fix to allow Thunderbird to tap into a pipeline that carries water from Atoka to Oklahoma City. The Norman Transcript reports on the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act:

[Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District] General Manager Randy Worden said negotiations with Oklahoma City will start immediately. Worden said passage of the bill will allow COMCD to provide adequate water supplies.

“We’re very grateful,” Worden said. “We’ll get a contract executed with Oklahoma City before we can actually put water in the lake. It’s their pipeline, so we have to abide by their rules.”

Using the Atoka line as a supplement won’t solve the problem, however. While residents are currently being asked to conserve water, Mayor Rosenthal tells KWTV that officials are likely to issue “mandatory rationing.”

And with the drought expected to drag on for years to come, more long-term solutions are being considered. From KWTV:

City leaders are also considering the possibility of building a new reservoir in the area. However, leaders say that could take 10 to 15 years to complete.

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