Water Woes Have Cleveland Searching For Back Up To Back-Up Plan

Friday, April 10th 2015, 8:00 pm

As the drought keeps a strong grip on Oklahoma, many small towns across Green Country are struggling to maintain their water sources.

Cleveland's lake is so low the city has been tapping into nearby Ranch Creek to help fill it up; but the city is now looking for a back up to its back up plan.

Cleveland Lake is down about 12 feet. The little bit of rain we've had the past few weeks has helped some, but so has the water coming in from Ranch Creek.

Because of that, the creek has pretty much been pumped dry, which has some folks hoping the city finds a new solution.

It's a sight that's hard for rancher Ray Havens to see, parts Ranch Creek - the waterway that splits his property - with no water.

“Two weeks ago today this was running and had current running all the way to the river,” Havens said. “This part down here's nothing but a mud flat, a person couldn't even walk across it because of the mud.”

The creek had survived the drought; it hadn't stopped running once in the past three Havens said.

“This right here maintains about a two-and-a-half foot water level, basically year around,” he said. “The springs up at the upper end keep it from actually going dry.”

There are some areas of the creek that still have water moving, but Havens said it's just a matter of days before those spots run dry, too.

The city of Cleveland has been pumping out of Ranch Creek for about 45 days to help replenish its depleting water source at Cleveland Lake.

Havens said it's a Band-Aide on a major cut, but Cleveland City Manager, Elzie Smith said it has helped.

“The Ranch Creek situation has helped us a lot, because we've been able to not only not lose any ground on the lake, but actually gain, so that's given us some relief,” he said.

That relief comes with a price for wildlife, according to Havens.

“This is not my water. This isn't my water, this is the state of Oklahoma's water, but the fish are my fish, just like everybody else's, and they're gonna die if this continues,” he said.

For that reason, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has asked the city to turn the pump off until the creek fills back up.

The state said it's working with the city to find an alternate pumping solution, while also protecting Oklahoma's fisheries.

“If we don't get any rain to put water back in Ranch Creek, then we're gonna go on down to the Arkansas River and pump into Ranch Creek from there,” Smith said.

The city of Cleveland, the Department of Wildlife and Corps of Engineers plan to meet Monday to look at some other options.