NORMAN — Thursday President Barack Obama signed the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act of 2012 into law. The bill will allow the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District to purchase outside water to augment Lake Thunderbird during drought conditions. The bill was authored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, and carried in the senate by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa.
The bill will allow COMCD to negotiate with Oklahoma City to tap into the Atoka line and purchase raw water to augment the lake. Despite receiving an inch and a half of rain this week, lake levels are still low and continued drought is anticipated.
COMCD has imposed a 10 percent reduction of Norman’s water allocation. The city gets approximately 66 percent of its water supply from Lake Thunderbird. Additional water comes from 36 operational wells.
That reduction in allocation will remain in place, at least until COMCD can negotiate a deal with Oklahoma City or some other outside source. COMCD manages the lake as a long term water supply source for the cities of Norman, Midwest City and Del City. Each of the cities has been asked to reduce its allocation by 10 percent, but Norman is the most reliant on Lake Thunderbird.
In the wake of the allocation reduction, Norman is instituting mandatory “Stage 2 Moderate Conservation” effective Monday.
According to the Drought Impact Center, almost 95 percent of Oklahoma is in the Extreme, Category D3 or Exceptional, Category D4 drought conditions.
The city reports that Norman is currently categorized as having Extreme Drought conditions. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center expects the current drought to continue or worsen through the Spring of 2013 with a possibility that drought could extend long term.
As of Friday, the lake was 7-and-a -half feet below the conservation pool or 62 percent full. By February, lake levels could meet and exceed the historical record low level set in 2006.