Waurika Lake plans silt removal - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Waurika Lake plans silt removal

LAWTON, Okla._The Lawton City Council will hear how to combat the ongoing drought by creating access to more water from Waurika Lake at the council meeting Tuesday evening.

Lake managers are asking cities that draw from it to share in the $12 million cost of removing thousands of pounds of silt from the lake. The project is designed to permanently clear the lake's pumping sites of the sediment, freeing up more water to be pumped to Lawton, Duncan and other nearby cities.

Waurika Lake is responsible for supplementing Lake Lawtonka and Lake Ellsworth with enough water to keep the area afloat. Although $12 million is just a ballpark figure for the project right now, officials are estimating that Lawton will pay around 60 percent of that bill.

It's a massive makeover for Southwest Oklahoma's drinking water, something that lake manager Dave Taylor says has been in the works with managers and the U.S. Corps of Engineers for over a year.

"We want to make sure we have a reliable water supply in the remaining years of this drought and that project will ensure that it's a sustainable water supply," said Taylor.

Lawton City Council members will see the plan they will fuel. The plans will not only rid Waurika's waters of sediment, but will repair pumps and construct new pipelines to keep silt from obstructing the water flow.

"The dredging and the gate repair is really not optional. It has to be done sometime and it saves money by doing it now while the lake is low," explained Taylor.

While other cities tied to the lake, like Duncan, have entered Stage 5 rationing to conserve, Lawton has already raised rates in order to explore new options like cloud seeding. But Taylor says silt removal is a surety to make sure the city doesn't go dry.

"Other projects or other things that could happen where we're not sure the water's available, we know this water is there," said Taylor.

So, the master conservatory is asking the same cities who helped build the lake 30 years ago to now maintain it. With Lawton paying 60 percent, Duncan will pick up around 33 and the remaining will be split among the rest. It's a plan officials believe will see Southwest Oklahoma through the historic drought.

"To be able to go out and get every source of water that you can is crucial. Our mission is to make absolutely sure that all the cities have all the water that we can give them," said Taylor.

The project is still awaiting final approval from the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Once that's done and a final price tag is in place, then Lawton and the other cities will vote on their piece of the bill, making way for construction scheduled to start in June.

Lawton is the second city on the conservatory list to see the latest on the project, following Duncan. Officials plan on visiting the rest of cities on the list in the next few weeks.

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