The Army Corps of Engineers has begun releasing water from Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma into the North Canadian River.
According to a news release from Oklahoma City, 30,000 acre-feet of water began rushing Wednesday morning toward the North Canadian River. It will take about two weeks for the water to reach Oklahoma City, where it will be captured in Lake Hefner. The influx will help replenish the drinking water supply for about 1.2 million people.
The city desperately needs the water due to the drought conditions affecting not only central Oklahoma, but the rest of the state.
"We put off the release as long as possible," said Marsha Slaughter, Utilities Department director for the City of Oklahoma City. "The recent rain will help prevent the released water from being absorbed into the dry river bed."
Slaughter says fall and spring rains would typically refill the lakes, but rainfall across the state has been well below average. Earlier this month, Oklahoma City implemented mandatory water rationing. The city pulls water from six different lakes across the state, but lakes Hefner, Overholser and Draper are just over half full. The city says it needs the water from Canton Lake to help serve residents' basic needs.
"We don't take water releases for recreational purposes," Slaughter said. We take the water only to replenish water supply."
The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust owns water rights in Canton Lake.