- Ada, Oklahoma


March 17, 2012

Scissortail Lake worth a good, hard look


Ada —

The city has invested in a comprehensive study of the Scissortail project, completed by C.H. Guernsey & Company. The study concluded that the Scissortail project had no “fatal flaws,” and that the area under consideration was one of the best in the state for lake construction.

Few lakes have been built since federal funding for such projects ceased in the 1980s. Now, as water becomes scarcer and more expensive, communities and other entities are exploring lake building as an option once again. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was studying the Scissortail project for funding in the 1980s. When funding was curtailed in 1988, the project was halted.

The future water issues for Ada are serious, and they are rapidly approaching. The City must soon make a determination regarding how it plans to provide water for the people of the community for years to come. As the discussion has moved forward, two basic alternatives have arisen. 

The first option involves the city purchasing more land and water rights over the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer. The cost of that land is not known, but we believe it is obvious it will be valuable. There is only a limited amount of land over the aquifer, and with water rights severely curtailed, water users will have to buy exponentially more property to “keep up.” With access to so little water per acre of land owned, the city would be forced to buy a tremendous amount of property. At what cost? Those who consider additional purchases a viable option do not know. Additionally, the city would have to drill numerous new water wells and provide the infrastructure, power and people to operate and maintain these wells. Once again, the cost has not been quantified.

In the second option, the city could enter into an agreement to build Scissortail Lake. Cost projections for the lake run to about $250 million. That is a substantial sum and one that would be challenging for Ada, by itself, to afford. However, with the daily water yield of the lake about three times the city’s use rate, it is possible the city could contract with other communities and entities that have interests in purchasing the additional water. 

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