The Grove Observer

A weekly newspaper for Grove and Grand Lake residents. Published every Friday. If you have news, email us at or fax (918) 791-0206. Copyright 2007. No reproduction without consent of the author.

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Editor & Publisher: Jim Mills

Friday, January 06, 2006

Grand Lake to be Lowered to Elevation 738

(Editors Note: Please see above updated story received at publication time.)

In an effort to complete a project mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Grand River Dam Authority is announcing it must begin a drawdown of Grand Lake at the end of January. According to GRDA officials, the drawdown could lower the elevation of Grand by as much as two and a half (2.5) feet during February, with an approximate drop in elevation of one-half to three-quarters of a foot per week. As of press time, Grand Lake elevation was 741 feet. Target elevation for December and January is 742 feet. Based on current estimates, the drawdown is expected to bring Grand Lake near 738 feet.
GRDA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley said letters have already been sent to Grand Lake dock owners, to give them notice prior to the drawdown so they can make the necessary preparations. Easley also said GRDA is allowing Grand Lake dock owners to protect their docks from grounding by relocating them to deeper water during the drawdown. Then, when Grand Lake’s elevation returns to 741 feet, they must reattach their dock at the permitted location. Those who plan to move their docks, must contact GRDA at (918) 782-3382, extensions 3352, 3374 or 3373, during regular business hours (8 AM - 4 PM) Monday through Friday.
"We know this may be a hardship for Grand Lake residents and we certainly don’t like to do it, but to fulfill FERC requirements to complete this project, we have to move forward with this," said Easley.
The drawdown stems from a project at GRDA’s Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP), located on the Saline Creek arm of Lake Hudson, southeast of Salina. Built in the late 1960s following the construction of GRDA’s Robert S. Kerr Dam, the SPSP is the only "pumped storage" facility in Oklahoma. The six turbine-generators inside the powerhouse also operate as pumps, moving water from Lake Hudson through penstocks to the W.R. Holway Reservoir, carved out of the hills, 250 feet above the SPSP powerhouse. Water can be stored in that reservoir and released back through the turbines to generate electricity.
"At the request of FERC, GRDA drained W.R. Holway Reservoir in October, so a comprehensive inspection, and repairs could be made to the reservoir canal," said Bob Sullivan, GRDA’s assistant general manager of risk management and regulatory compliance. "That work is nearly complete now and FERC agrees that GRDA should begin filling the reservoir at the end of January, to insure the structural integrity of the earthen dam."
In order to have enough water to pump into the reservoir, Lake Hudson must be at an elevation of 618 feet. However, because of extended drought conditions across the region and lack of inflows into the Grand River system, Hudson’s current elevation is approximately 615 feet. The lake’s average elevation is 619 feet.
"We have to raise Hudson by at least three feet before we can even begin filling the Holway Reservoir," said Anthony Due, GRDA’s assistant general manager of operations and hydro. After that GRDA will have to maintain Hudson at 618 feet to continue pumping until the reservoir is full. To fill the reservoir will require approximately 48,200 acre feet of water.
However, Easley added that if the Grand River watershed (located in Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri) does receive significant rainfall during January, the expected drawdown could be scaled back. "Heavy inflows into the Grand River system over the next few weeks would allow us to alter this plan," he said.
GRDA is responsible for proper management of not only Grand Lake, but all the waters of the Grand River system, said Easley "and proper management means following through on FERC requirements. However, because Grand Lake residents are important GRDA constituents, we want to do everything we can to keep them informed of what is taking place, and the reasons why it must be done."
Photo above...the W.R. Holway Reservoir and penstocks to Lake Hudson, at full levels. (courtesy GRDA)


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