WAURIKA, OK (KSWO) - A project more than four years in the works is nearly complete at Waurika Lake and now more than eight billion gallons of previously untouched water can be pumped and delivered to water treatment plants in surrounding cities like Lawton and Duncan.
The decision to start the project was made during a recent drought in Southwest Oklahoma.
"It's always when the next drought comes. We always try to act like today could be the start of the next drought. It's almost six years ago today the last drought started," said David Taylor, District Manager of the Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District.
Taylor said during the most recent drought a few years ago, they became worried about how much water they could access at the lake. That's because as the water level dropped, they realized there were parts of the lake much deeper than the pumping station could pump.
"As we started looking forward, thinking if this drought lasts more than a year, two years, three years and so forth. The question in our mind became what do we do. How do we deal with this," Taylor said.
Taylor said if the pumping station couldn't reach the deepest water, they'd simply have to figure out a way to bring that water to the pumping station.
"We dredged this whole trench, this was 4400 feet of trench. We then put new gates in because the gates were old and corroded and in very poor shape. Then we laid a gate extension which is essentially a pipeline all the way out there so that we could draw from the deepest part of the lake any time we wanted to," Taylor said.
Taylor said drawing from that part of the lake will have two huge benefits on the five surrounding towns -- Lawton, Duncan, Comanche, Temple, and Walters -- who draw at least some of their water from the lake.
"One is when the next drought comes, we're going to be able to access all of the lake. The other one is we believe the water out here is a little better quality so the five cities that use this water, they're going to have to use fewer pounds of compounds or chemicals to help treat the water," Taylor said.