Claremore Daily Progress

Business

August 16, 2012

GRDA shares drought management plans with FERC

VINITA — It is no secret that a severe drought has been taking its toll on Northeast Oklahoma and really, the entire central section of the United States. As temperatures continued to hover above triple digits, moments of precipitation have been few and far between for several weeks.

All across the Grand River watershed — where the waters of the Neosho, Spring and Elk rivers and other tributaries usually provide steady inflows into Grand and Hudson Lakes — the Grand River Dam Authority, like all in Northeast Oklahoma, has watched the drought leave its mark.  
“On hot, dry windy days, which have been the norm for much of July and into early August, more water evaporates from the lakes than actually flows in,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer/Director of Investments Dan Sullivan.
Those are key reasons why GRDA is dealing with conflicting Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) licensing requirements for its Pensacola and Kerr dams and, as a result, petitioned FERC for suspension of the annual Grand Lake drawdown set to begin in mid August.  
“First of all, there are the lake level issues,” said Sullivan. “Drought conditions have resulted in little or no inflow into Grand Lake to such an extent that we’ve not been able to meet the seasonal rule curve elevation of 744 feet on Grand Lake for quite some time. For much of July, Grand’s elevation was below that mark.”
According to GRDA Assistant General Manager of Ecosystems Management Dr. Darrell Townsend, GRDA’s licensing requirements for Kerr requires the Authority to implement a plan to mitigate for low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. 
“In order for us to meet this requirement and follow the dissolved oxygen testing schedule, we need some water flowing out of Grand and into Hudson.”
However, as that water is being released to meet Kerr licensing requirements, it continues to cause Grand Lake elevations to fall below Pensacola licensing requirements. 

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