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Southwest Oklahoma Cities Turn to Dredging as Silt Slowly Strangles Lakes

Posted on November 23, 2015

By Logan Layden, StateImpact

Oklahoma’s lakes weren’t built to last forever. Over time, dirt and debris are slowly filling them in. Right now, there’s no good way to solve the problem, but cities that rely on Waurika Lake are turning to costly and complicated efforts to save their water supply from silt.

At the Waurika Lake pump house, loud green engines are hard at work pulling water from the lake and sending it along pipelines, each labeled with their destination: Duncan 1, Lawton 2. The water pumped here supplies a large swath of southwest Oklahoma. When drought threatened to drive lake levels below the shallowest intake gate, lake manager Dave Taylor found another problem beneath the water’s surface.

“We couldn’t open or close the bottom set of gates,” he says. “And we couldn’t figure out what was going on. We found that we had about 20 to 23 feet of silt right up against the pump house.”


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