Concerns over low water levels at Lake Eufaula

Friday, January 13th 2006, 6:13 am
By: News On 6

There's a movement underway to protect the water in Lake Eufaula. It's a reaction to the now rejected plan to sell water from the lake to far away cities and now it's taken on more importance, with the drought.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says a big crowd showed up at Eufaula's elementary school for a community meeting about Lake Eufaula. The folks at the meeting want to set priorities for the lake - and protect it for recreation and for drinking water.

Karen Weldin: "Rain is not going to solve all the problems Lake Eufaula suffers from."

The lake is at its lowest level in 25 years. It's 6 and a half feet down - and in some places that's made the water recede 30 feet from shore. The drought has certainly had an impact, but folks around Lake Eufaula think with better management, the lake level would be as bad as it is.

The priority for the lake's water is generating electricity, but as more boaters come here, recreation is becoming more important in the equation.

The people who count on the lake for that want the level kept two feet higher than it is now. Al Walker at #9 Marina: "So we've got more water to work with." Al Walker's boating business has dried up - and he's had to move his docks to deeper water. These days most of his customers are in to get their boats repaired after hitting bottom. "And there are boats in the mud."

Back at the meeting, residents are signing up to make their voices count, hoping to influence how much water is held in Lake Eufaula. Karen Weldin: "We recognize we're in a drought but we don't think that's the only problem going on with the level of this lake."

The lake level is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Right now Eufaula is 6 feet below normal, but other lakes are even lower. The difference is that other lakes are naturally deeper, so it doesn't create as big a problem for boaters.