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January 1, 2013

Bill passes for Lake Thunderbird

NORMAN — The U.S. Senate passed the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act this week. Norman city leaders gave a sigh of relief but said the city’s water woes have not ended and that some solutions could prove costly as the region enters its third year of drought.

The President has until Jan. 10 to sign the bill into law.

The legislation, HR 3263, was authored by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, and carried in the senate by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa.

“The Senate passage of the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act is a victory for Oklahomans dependent on the lake’s resources,” said Inhofe.

The legislation will allow the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District to tap into the Atoka line that runs near Lake Thunderbird. This raw water source can be used to help raise water levels in Lake Thunderbird during drought conditions.

“After another year of drought, it’s more important than ever to ensure Central Oklahoma has a reliable supply of water,” said Cole. “Bringing more water to Lake Thunderbird is a commonsense solution that costs taxpayers nothing. This legislation will help ensure the area can continue its economic growth without outgrowing its water resources.”

Not limited to the Atoka line, the bill allows COMCD as conservators and guardians of the lake waters, to acquire and store water from outside the Bureau of Reclamation system. The Atoka line has served Oklahoma City for several decades. Any cost associated with this action would be paid for by the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District.

COMCD General Manager Randy Worden said negotiations with Oklahoma City will start immediately. Worden said passage of the bill will allow COMCD to provide adequate water supplies. He thanked Cole, Inhofe and Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, for their work on the bill’s passage.

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