However, a lawsuit filed by the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, which oversees the lake and serves as a guardian of the water quality, required ODEQ to complete the study by November. This timeline resulted in a more curtailed modeling study.
“ODEQ has determined that it could complete the TMDL by November 2012 only if it disbands the TAC and limits the number of times DEQ runs the models to a minimum,” according to TAC meeting notes on April 24 recounting input by ODEQ attorney Mista Turner-Burgess.
Officials on the COMCD staff and board believed water quality and pollution levels were quickly becoming critical concerns.
“They (DEQ) had delayed the TMDL a number of times,” COMCD District Manager Randy Worden said. “The district initially filed against the DEQ back in ’07, and that was to make DEQ perform a TMDL on Little River and Lake Thunderbird. The court ordered that done by April 2010 — it was supposed to be completed.
“DEQ didn’t even start by then. It was important for us to ensure by litigating this thing to have a set date for the TMDL to be completed,” he said. “Our discussions with the DEQ after the due date of 2010, we couldn’t pin them down to a date.”
Lake impairment: Lake Thunderbird is considered impaired because of “high turbidity, high levels of chlorophyll-a and low levels of dissolved oxygen,” according to DEQ.
High levels of chlorophyll-a result in too much algae growing in the lake, though this summer when high temperatures and drought conditions caused potentially toxic algal bloom in many small Oklahoma lakes, Thunderbird remained safe.
Runoff deposits nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake, which promotes high levels of algae growth. When algae die and decompose, oxygen is depleted in the water, contributing to the death of fish and aquatic organisms.