High Water Hurting Recreation At Several Oklahoma Lakes

Friday, June 5th 2015, 7:18 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The Corps of Engineers said parts of recreation areas around their lakes are likely out of service, even over the Fourth of July.

It's the result of the continued runoff, especially into the lakes along the Arkansas River.

The rain in Oklahoma left the lakes high, and now rain in Kansas is headed this way so about as much is coming in as going out; and that's left recreation and commercial areas unusable for the time being.

The marina is still above water at Pier 51, but the bridge leading to it is deep down.

The high water caused some damage that can't be seen until the water recedes, but the worst of it is the lost business during what's normally a busy time.

“They can't let a bunch of water out because of downstream, but that affects the employees, our business, it affects tourism around here,” said Phil Hershberger with Pier 51 Marina.

There are still tourists - campers at the lake's edge - but the boaters can't get on the water for a while.

The recreation areas at Keystone and most lakes are suffering because of high water. Some are blocked off entirely while some are partially open; the status changes frequently and the only way to know for sure is to check the state and corps websites for each lake.

Keep Up With Oklahoma Lake Levels

The Corps of Engineers plans to increase the flow through Keystone Dam - now that the river downstream is draining, and more water is coming in from upstream.

"We've held back a lot of water and while there have been damages associated with the flooding, we have mitigated a lot of that with the system; that said it's now time to try to get water out of the system,” Colonel Richard Pratt said.

The spectacle at the dam is enough to attract attention, and more than a few fishermen who say it's either very good fishing or very bad, but that, too, is hard to predict.

Fishing below the dam is about the only recreation that's possible around the lakes, where the edges are too dangerous for boats and the boat ramps are underwater anyway.

"It's a part of life, but it's not a lot of fun," Hershberger said.