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Local & Regional

Oklahoma Seeks to Change Grand Lake Level Reduction

KWGS News File Photo

The Grand River Dam Authority wants a change in its operating license for Pensacola Dam.

GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty said they’re petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over a requirement to periodically lower Grand Lake.

"One of the requirements in there is that we drop the level of Grand Lake from 744 [feet] down to 741 beginning in August and hold it there down through mid-October," Alberty said. "Well, that coincides with Labor Day, so the lake does go down 3 feet during one of the busiest boating seasons."

Alberty says suddenly lowering the lake three feet creates a hazard for boaters.

"We would like to stagger the drop," Alberty said. "Instead of dropping it 3 feet all at once, just to bring it down slowly where it's only a foot lower over the Labor Day holiday, and then after the Labor Day holiday, going ahead and bring it down the other 2 feet."

Upstream property owners have generally opposed changing the rule curve, saying it would increase the probability of flooding.

The annual summer lowering started in the 1990s so mud banks could be exposed for millet seed planting as part of an environmental mitigation project.

"Over the course of the last 20 years or so, the millet seeding projects never really worked that well," Alberty said.

The agency has also asked to shorten the public comment period 60 days to 30.