GRDA to deal with Grand Lake water bandits and encroachment issues

Tuesday, November 23rd 2004, 5:24 pm

By: News On 6

VINITA, Okla. (AP) -- Area residents who have been receiving water from Grand Lake without paying will be getting bills soon.

"Bills will be sent on April 1 on the water lines," said Kevin Easley, chief executive officer of the Grand River Dam Authority. "Permits originally had a one time fee of $50, but now there is an annual fee."

The water bills are an effort to bring in lake revenue so it can "pay its way," said Easley, who estimates there are 7,000 water lines taking water out of the lake and only 1,000 are currently permitted.

Lake Patrol Officer Nathan Vaughn said meters for measuring water used have been read in the past on an "honors system."

Vaughn said at least two nurseries have three water lines, but only one with a meter.

The town of Peggs pays GRDA about $50 a month, even though their city water system has over 700 customers, officials have found.

The GRDA also is trying to address unauthorized structures that have been built on its property. Officials have found a trailer park with 32 units at Salina, a gravel quarry at the pumpback station and the Dogwood Bar & Grill.

Salina real estate appraiser Mike Sisemore has been hired to value the land in the encroached areas. Residents found there will be offered leases.

"We're not going out and putting handcuffs on anybody, but we do care," Easley said. "If you don't like the deal (the proposed lease), you need to get off the property."

GRDA attorney Mary VonDrahle said the rock quarry had a lease, but it expired sometime ago.

"This is all accidental or unintentional," GRDA Director Terry Frost said.

Officials will use the original plat survey of the lake to determine encroachment.

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