Canton Community Upset With Decision To Release Water To OKC

Wednesday, January 30th 2013, 10:28 pm
By: News 9

Several thousand gallons of water is flowing towards Oklahoma City to fill Lake Hefner. All that water is coming from Canton Lake and the release is stirring up some heated controversy.

OKC officials say water from Canton Lake will help replenish the water supply to about 1.2 million people. The Canton Lake Association is not disputing the fact that OKC has the right to the water, they just wish the city had a better option.

"We started our gate opening about 8:20 Wednesday morning," said Kathy Carlson with the Army Corps of Engineers. "We're releasing through one gate."  

Thirty-thousand acre feet is slowly flowing towards Oklahoma City.

"There should have been more safe guards put into place so we wouldn't get to this dire situation," said Jeff Converse, President of the Canton Lake Association.

Converse, says this is the third time water from the lake has been released to Oklahoma City in recent years.

1/20/2013 Related Story: Water From Canton Lake Flowing Toward Oklahoma City

"We've been fighting this fight for a while, and the release of the water is pretty devastating," said Converse.

Converse says it will kill the surrounding community and crush the town's economy. He says he has no doubt businesses will close.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Congress authorized the Canton Lake project in 1938 for flood control. And at one point, it was authorized for irrigation and municipal water supply for the city of Enid.

"Oklahoma City had nothing to do with this lake, it was not built for them," said upset Canton resident, Dee Rensch. "It was built for flood control and water storage."

1/2/2013 Related Story: OKC Can Sell Norman Water, Depending On Amount

But, because Enid did not access its storage rights, in 1955, The Army Corps of Engineers says OKC began a series of five-year contracts with the federal government to use Canton's water storage. Irrigation and water storage was eventually reassigned to Oklahoma City in 1990.

"We understand the purpose of this lake, the original purposes, the water allocations," said Converse. "But the fact of the matter is, because it was here, there was an economy that grew up around this lake."

The Canton Lake release will take about two weeks to reach Lake Hefner. News 9 is told the release will have little improvement on recreation.

1/17/2013 Related Story: OKC Begins Mandatory Outdoor Water Conservation Program