Bartlesville officials doubt fish kill at Hulah

Wednesday, May 1st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) _ As if a decline in the city's drinking water source weren't enough, Bartlesville officials are grappling with other possible problems at Hulah Lake.

City Manager Steve Brown held a teleconference meeting with state and federal agencies to discuss how to prevent a fish kill at Hulah, which has been depleted because of drought.

City councilors on Monday said they doubted a fish kill was occurring there.

``In a way, our use of water is being held hostage by several different issues. Fish kill is one, and I'm not at all confident of the information I am getting from them, and certainly not the lack of action,'' Councilor Julie Daniels said.

Ross Adkins, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman, said the agency has kept in contact with city officials since November about ongoing Hulah drought concerns.

The corps, which manages Hulah Lake, has attended and hosted meetings and has provided much information to officials, Adkins said.

``We are very concerned. There are people working on it. We are the ones that have the bathtub, and there are a lot of fish in that tub,'' he said.

The city of Bartlesville stopped pulling water from Hulah Lake on April 18 and is relying on an emergency supply from Copan Lake.

Bartlesville, Dewey and six rural water districts are under mandatory rationing, and the entire area is operating under a state of emergency.

Not withdrawing water from the lake and recent steady rainfall have allowed the water level in the Osage County reservoir to rise by 2 feet.

Environmental officials are concerned about the oxygen levels in the water and how fish might be affected if the dry conditions return. Rising summer temperatures will cause water in the lake to evaporate, officials said.

Officials also are concerned about the level of silt in the lake, which has built up since the dam was constructed in 1951.

Councilors are upset because the corps recently refigured its water storage estimates to show that a higher level of sediment is in the lake. Adkins said the higher silt levels became more apparent as the level dropped.

Based on this year's sediment projections, the corps estimates that Hulah Lake has lost 11,310 acre feet of water storage capacity to sedimentation.

If the silt were placed on a football field, it would be more than two miles high, according to the corps.