NORMAN — Lake Thunderbird, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Project, is managed and protected by the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District.
The Reclamation Service was formed in 1902.
Oklahoma rainfall averaging 30 to 35 inches annually and abundant ground water served early development until population growth put a strain on the state’s natural water table.
Congress first investigated developing Little River as a water resource in 1936, but for decades, the project was not considered economically justified.
A 1954 plan called for the construction of a reservoir on Little River to provide flood control and to supply water to Norman, Midwest City, Del City and Tinker Air Force Base.
The Norman Project was signed into law by President Eisenhower on June 27, 1960, and was funded by the 1961 Public Works Appropriation Bill and the 1962 Public Works Appropriation Bill, which was signed by President Kennedy on Sept. 30, 1961.
The dam was completed in 1965 and delivery of water began in 1966. The reservoir’s name was changed to Lake Thunderbird in 1965. Operation and maintenance of the Norman Project was transferred to the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District in 1966.
— Source: Wm. Joe Simonds, Bureau of Reclamation