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Waurika Lake at Record Low

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WAURIKA Okla_ An important water source in Southwest Oklahoma is at an all-time low.

Waurika Lake is at about 48% capacity. The water level is down 12 feet from its normal elevation. The low levels are beginning to affect the six communities who rely on the lake as an important water source.

It's both a water source and a recreation spot for many, and the quickly decreasing water levels at Waurika Lake could mean big changes for local communities.

"We cannot afford to let that lake run out of water," Waurika City Manager Chuck Brown said. "So, we are going to take care of it, and we monitor it almost daily. Believe me, it is in our thoughts and minds constantly."

Lawton, Duncan, Walters, Waurika, Comanche and Temple all look to Waurika Lake as a water source, one whose water supply could run dry in about a year.

"This is the lowest that the lake has been since we started impounding water in 1978," Brown said. "We have never faced this situation before."

Brown said the lack of rain near Waurika Lake is beginning to affect his town that uses this lake as a revenue and water source.

"We get a lot of revenue from our water. About a third of our budget comes from our water," Brown said.

Waurika Lake is also a source of revenue for the town. Low lake levels mean fewer people stopping to eat and fill up their gas tanks. Brown said the water levels are already beginning to affect boat usage only days into the summer months. Waurika is already looking to a back-up plan.

"We have some wells around here that we used to use, and we have not looked at those in a long time," Brown said. "We are going to have to start planning to look at those."

Brown said that he continues to hope for rain, but as levels continue to drop, rations and increases in water prices are possible.

"If the lake goes down another 2 or 3 feet, we will look at going into stage one," Brown said.

That decision to ration will help the local communities with something they cannot do without.

"Water is not something that you can live without," Brown said. "Food you can go a little while, but water you can't. So, we will help out however we can."

Brown said Waurika does not own Waurika Lake. So, all cities who use Waurika Lake as a water source will have equal access until it runs dry.

Waurika is also seeing the effects of the low lake levels in their drinking water. Additional chlorine has been added to help disinfect it, which Brown said is a normal problem with a concentrated water source.

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