Cushing Lake Closed Indefinitely, Water Levels Receding After Dam Breach
CUSHING, Oklahoma - Water continues to rapidly drain from a breach in the Cushing Lake Dam. City officials on Monday were able to get a better look at what's happening.
The breach is in the concrete spillway and water has been leaking since at least Sunday morning.
Around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the manager from the Cline Ranch noticed an unusual amount of water rushing under the bridge just downstream from the Cushing Lake.
“(He) realized that was not right and gave them a call,” explained Linda Cline, who owns the ranch. “Later he called me and said I just want you to know the dam is breached, so I just started asking him what’s it going to do to us.”
“Because we hadn’t had a lot of rain, we knew something was wrong upstream, and that it dealt with our lake,” said Terry Brannon, the City Manager for Cushing.
The location of the breach wasn't initially visible. Police alerted property owners downstream.
Larry Fox manages an oil well right below the dam.
“If it would have completely come out it would have got it,” said Fox.
Fortunately, the water has stayed within the banks of the creek.
“Everything that we thought could go horribly wrong, catastrophically wrong, did not happen,” said Brannon. “So, we are extremely blessed.”
Monday morning, the lake level was down eight feet, and engineers were able to see the area in the spillway where the water is leaking out.
The lake is used purely for recreation, and the Department of Wildlife is on site because of concerns about wildlife impacted.
The plan right now is to drain as much of the lake as possible. Engineers are assessing the situation and will develop a plan on how to move forward.
The city manager said he's hopeful about the possibilities for the future.
“It’s going to be dictated by what our city fathers as well as what the community believes about their lake,” he said. “But it’s going to be a process. It’s going to take quite a bit of time.”
In the meantime, the lake will be closed indefinitely.