Lone Chimney Lake Still Near Critical Despite Oklahoma Flooding Elsewhere

Thursday, June 11th 2015, 6:52 pm
By: Tess Maune

The spring rain has replenished so many of our Oklahoma lakes, but for several water sources, the inches and inches of much-needed rain still wasn't enough.

It's going to be a while before Lone Chimney Lake in Pawnee County is feeding water to communities again.

All the rain in May brought Lone Chimney Lake up 10 feet, but it still needs to come up 6 feet more before the water association will start pumping from it again.

Wave after wave hitting the shore… it's a sight that hasn't been seen on Lone Chimney Lake for quite some time.

“It looked like you could just walk across it [before],” water association chairman Darrel Clark said. “There [were] bare spots; the lake was way down. It was just sickening, you know, to look at.

The lake is supposed to be a water source for about a dozen rural water districts and communities.

But when the drought sucked the lake down to 16 feet below normal, the pumps were shut off.

And the Lone Chimney Water Association spent 3.2 million dollars to connect to Stillwater's water system, while other towns, like Pawnee, had to find a new source of their own.

“We're still not at the top, and we no longer take for granted that we're going to get all the rain we need,” Pawnee mayor and Lone Chimney board member Brad Sewell said.

Looking at Lone Chimney now, there's finally a feeling of relief. It's short-lived, though, because even with all the water, the board says it's still not enough.

“We had 4.77 inches of rain,” operations manager Paul Kinder said.

Board members say the lacking 6 feet of water accounts for almost 50 percent of the lake's water, which means it's still close to a critical level.

“8 foot is critical,” Kinder said. “Basically, precautionary is double the rates and critical is triple the rates.”

So using past experiences to prepare for the future, the board has voted to hold off on tapping back into Lone Chimney for the time being.

“Really we need to see what happens to this water level cause it could go the other way quickly,” a board member from Yale said.

But the hope, like it always seems to be in Oklahoma, is that more rain will fall and wash those worries away.

“If we get a couple or 3 inches, it might fill us because all the ponds and everything up above it is full,” Clark said.

There's no timetable on when Lone Chimney Lake will be used as a water source again, but board members say it most likely won't be this summer.