The Grand River Dam Authority has initiated discussions on a possible license amendment to modify the Grand Lake rule curve. At the annual Grand Lake Technical Committee meeting on Monday, November 8, GRDA Director of Ecosystems Dr. Darrell Townsend met with representatives from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Townsend polled committee members as to whether they would support an amendment that would grant GRDA operational discretion for Grand Lake elevations up to 745’ and elimination of the rule curve requirement. GRDA believes this discretion will assist it in managing the delicate balance between varying lake-stakeholder interests including property values, recreational safety throughout the boating season, proper management of wildlife and fisheries resources and pre-release strategies.
Although the technical committee agreed to support delaying the annual drawdown of Grand Lake until after the 2011 Labor Day weekend, it would not consider a license amendment to permanently change the rule curve until further modeling and studies can be completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
“GRDA has heard from members of the public who believe we should move in this direction,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley, “but clearly, additional input will be needed from all stakeholders, including the residents of Ottawa County.”
Additionally, GRDA and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to address conservation and restoration issues on recent GRDA land acquisitions along the Neosho River in Ottawa County. Future use of the acquired land will help alleviate the need for the annual lake drawdown and subsequent millet seeding program.
GRDA will be requesting additional information from the technical committee to clarify objectives for the land acquisitions and lake level modeling requested by the technical committee. Pensacola mitigation funds may be available to support subsequent modeling, but not all technical committee members are in agreement on funding options.
GRDA plans to contact the United States Army Corps of Engineers to determine the timeline and costs associated with rule curve modeling.