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Rising lake levels help business

WAURIKA, Okla._Businesses that depend on Waurika Lake are celebrating one of the most remarkable turnarounds from this month's record-setting rainfall.

At the beginning of this month, it was 25 percent full. Since then, the lake has risen more than 19 feet, and is expected to reach 100 percent capacity sometime tonight.

As a result, lake goers once again have a place to fish and the lake's marina is no longer resting on dry land.

"Finally, we were going to get rain and finally we were going to try to get water but I didn't think we were going to get this much water," said Reese.

Waurika Lake Marina owner Nan Reese says after three years of drought she finally has her lake back.

"I just said I would be satisfied if the boat slips were floating but I had no idea that my store was going to be floating and everything was just full. It's awesome," said Reese.

Reese says since it started raining she has had a 50 percent increase in business at the marina. The store even ran out of bait last Saturday.

"We had to run go get some bait so we could have bait for people the rest of this week and we will get new bait and stuff in on Thursday. It's exciting because we haven't even been keeping bait hardly at all because they would all die," said Reese.

The increase in business has also brought more people into to rent all but 2 of the 42 boat slips so far. Reese says this is the first time these boat slips have been in water in three years let alone having a boat parked at them. On May 7th, they replaced the Styrofoam that makes the shop float because it was damaged from being on dry ground for so long.

Waurika Lake Manager Dave Taylor says the amount of inflow they have received this month is record breaking.

"We are at about 130,000 acre feet of inflow which is approaching 70 billion gallons it is an amazing amount of water for this lake. This will approach the number one or number two about of inflow for the month in recorded history going all the way back to 1895," said Taylor.

"I am just elated. I'm tired because I am not used to the hours that we are putting in and everything but we are excited. We really are I am looking forward to a really good summer," said Reese.

Reese says as the business increases, they are going to start keeping the marina shop open longer hours. Even though the lake is back to full capacity, the $12 million silt removal project that is designed to get access to more water in the lake is scheduled to continue as planned. He says the deeper water will change some of the equipment they'll use, but it won't impact the overall cost.

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