By Randy Bruce

February 14, 2014

TULSA - The Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises visitors to Lake Texoma of the impact an extreme drought is having on the lake level. The current water level is several feet below normal and the Corps urges boaters to be vigilant when on the water. There is water for boating and other activities, however visitors should keep the following in mind:

- Boaters should use caution when launching as some ramps may be impaired by low water. Boaters should be vigilant and remain in main river channels and give the shoreline a wide berth. Some areas may harbor obstacles just below the surface such as stumps, land points, or rock formations that are usually deep under water.

- Slow down, and use depth finders. Check with local marinas about trouble spots. Be especially careful at night.

- We strongly encourage all boaters to wear a lifejacket when on or around the water, and remember that children under the age of 13 are required to have one on at all times while the vessel is underway.

A combination of factors is contributing to the current lake level. Even though there was substantial rainfall last May-July, there has been very little precipitation since. The entire watershed that feeds into the Lake Texoma watershed needs significant rainfall to bring water levels back up.

In general, a persistent exceptional drought for the last three years had gripped much of the Lake Texoma watershed. Inflows into the lake for 2011 were the lowest since its construction and 2013 saw the second lowest inflows. Evaporation of water is also a contributing factor. On an average year, Lake Texoma loses approximately six feet (74”) of water to evaporation. When the Lake Texoma basin does not get enough rain, the combination of evaporation and ongoing water usage will cause the lake level to drop.

The primary ongoing water usage from Lake Texoma is for municipal/industrial water supply and hydropower, which are critical in meeting needs for water and electricity. The lake is designed and required to allow authorized project purposes such as water supply and hydropower to continue during drought periods.

The following list of Corps operated boat ramps are open and available for use at elevation 608.37:

East Burns Run (West Ramp), East Burns Run(South Ramp), Platter Flats, Johnson Creek and Buncombe Creek.Although the lake is at a low level it is still open to all users.