More than 2,000 dams in Oklahoma have protected lives and property from flooding for decades. But age is catching up with them, and many need repairs. And this spring’s record rainfall is putting dams under even more pressure.
Catastrophic flooding used to just be part of life in Oklahoma. Ask anyone who was around in the late 1950s, like Allen Hensley, who grew up on Rock Creek in south-central Oklahoma.
“My dad took me down and showed me Rock Creek when I was a boy; and a beautiful corn crop,” Hensley says. “And the next day it was water, flooded.”
The McClellan-Kerr Navigation System that connects the Port of Catoosa — the nation’s furthest inland seaport — to the Gulf of Mexico is “a hell of a mess” after the area got nearly 20 inches of rain in May and June, port director Bob Portiss tell’s the Tulsa World.
Cities in drought-plagued California took water conservation seriously in May. Residential water use went down by 28.9 percent in May, according to a press release from the State Water Resources Control Board.
In 1922, seven Western states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California — drew up an agreement on how to divide the waters of the Colorado River. But there was one big problem with the plan: They overestimated how much water the river could provide.
As a result, each state was promised more water than actually exists. This miscalculation — and the subsequent mismanagement of water resources in those states — has created a water crisis that now affects nearly 40 million Americans.
New York state's Seneca Lake is the heart of the Finger Lakes, a beautiful countryside of steep glacier-carved hills and long slivers of water with deep beds of salt. It's been mined on Seneca's shore for more than a century.
The Texas company Crestwood Midstream owns the mine now, and stores natural gas in the emptied-out caverns. It has federal approval to increase the amount, and it's seeking New York's OK to store 88 million gallons of propane as well.
Slow moving storms that dumped record amounts of rain on Oklahoma in April and May killed the five-year drought, but damaged wheat crops in western Oklahoma. This after one of the worst wheat harvests on record in 2014.
New data from NASA's GRACE satellites show that many of the world's biggest aquifers are being sucked dry at a rate far greater than they are being replenished. Although scientists don't know how much water is left, they hope their findings will serve as a "red flag" for regions that may be overusing water.
It was around this time last year that the Norman City Council decided to stake its water future on reuse — sending cleaned wastewater back into Lake Thunderbird, the city’s main water source. It’s an ambitious, future-looking plan Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal says is in line with the state’s goal of using no more water in 2060 than it did in 2012.
But Norman isn’t the only city that relies on Lake Thunderbird for its water, and Midwest City and Del City would also need to be behind the plan before it goes before the Department of Environmental Quality for approval.