It's a Catch-22 for those involved with the water levels at Keystone Lake, west of Tulsa. KOTVâ€™s Heather Brooker says the US Army Corps of Engineers met with Southwestern Power Administration Friday afternoon to figure out how to work around the low water levels at the lake.
Right now, Keystone Lake is 4 feet lower than what it usually is and could be up to 10 feet lower by Labor Day. But the real problem is who has top priority to use what's left of the water at the lake. Fishing enthusiast Alan Karstetter says heâ€™s being more careful when boating Keystone Lake these days. â€œLow, it's real low right now. A person needs to watch where they're going." Especially with water levels plunging nearly 4 feet this summer. â€œOut here in the middle of the lake you're okay, but when you start up in the creeks, it'd be easy to run aground."
But youâ€™d think a quick fix for the low water levels at Keystone would be to cutback on how much water is released from the dam, think again. US Army Corps of Engineers information officer Ross Adkins says â€œwe are trying to find different ways to with the different agencies that we work with to preserve as much of the water as we can." Adkins says the Corps met with representatives from Southwestern Power Friday to discuss more efficient ways to control the flow of water.
So far, they have a few ideas, but there wonâ€™t be a quick fix for the problem. â€œAs it is right now, we're going to be down low for the holiday weekend." Jerry Johnson with Southwestern Power, â€œwe've done some tweaking on what is necessary for the least tern mitigation, we have made plans to generate at some other places, at Keystone." And at this point, no one is willing to say who will get priority on the flow of water, the boaters, the birds, or the power company.
Some of the suggestions that came out of Friday's meeting include ways to prevent this type of water crisis from happening in the future. Johnson says there's a seasonal pool process where you hold more water during the spring so you have it to release in the summer. And as far as the least tern, the endangered bird, they can build an island to protect it from predators without having to alter the river flow too much.