NORMAN — The U.S. Senate has passed H.R. 3263, the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act, which allows the lake’s operator to import and store water in the east Norman reservoir.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa and Congressman U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, applauded the act’s passsage. It allows the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District (COMC) authority to import and store non-project water into Lake Thunderbird in order to firm up municipal and industrial water supplies for cities including Norman, Midwest City, and Del City.
“The Senate passage of the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act is a victory for Oklahomans dependent on the lake’s resources,” said Inhofe. “Lake Thunderbird was built to provide safe, clean water to a dry region, but due to the rapid growth of surrounding communities and the recent years of drought, the lake’s supply has not been able to meet regional demand. This legislation ensures Lake Thunderbird will continue to provide the water resources necessary to support ongoing economic growth in the Oklahoma City region.”
"After another year of drought, it's more important than ever to ensure Central Oklahoma has a reliable supply of water,” said Cole. “Bringing more water to Lake Thunderbird is a commonsense solution that costs taxpayers nothing. This legislation will help ensure the area can continue its economic growth without outgrowing its water resources."
Inhofe and Cole first introduced this measure during the 111th Congress, but Congress failed to act on the legislation. During the 112th Congress, Inhofe and Cole introduced this measure in their respective chambers and worked aggressively to ensure its passage. The Senate version, S.802, was considered and passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November 2011. Its companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3263) passed on June 6, 2012. This evening, the bill passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent. The bill now waits on the President’s desk for signature.
“Passage of S.802/H.R. 3263 will allow the District and its customer cities to fully utilize its water rights and provide adequate water supplies for a thirsty region,” said Randy Worden, District Manager of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District. “The continuing drought has magnified the need for this additional water. We do wish to express our sincere appreciation to Senator Inhofe and Congressmen Cole and Lankford for their enduring commitment to passage of this legislation and their vision for economic prosperity for the Central Oklahoma region.”
“Passage of the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act is great news for Norman and our partner cities of Del City and Midwest City, and we appreciate thespecial efforts of Senator Inhofe and Congressman Tom Cole on our behalf,” said Cindy Rosenthal, Mayor of Norman. “With water levels still more than five feet below the top of the conservation pool, Lake Thunderbird has struggled in the face of continuing drought. This legislation will open the possibility for non-project water to supplement ourvital water supplies in the future and to meet the needs of our community.”
“This legislation has been very much needed to avoid a possible crisis,” said Jack Fry, Mayor of Midwest City. “The Conservancy District's ability to purchase water as a result of a drought or transfer water from other areas would be impossible without this legislation. This will provide the opportunity to avoid future problems of water supply.”
“This action will be the final hurdle for Del City, Midwest City and Norman to have the ability to augment water to Lake Thunderbird which has the smallest watershed of any public lake in the State of Oklahoma,” said Brian Linley, Mayor of Del City. “This is exciting news for the future viability of Lake Thunderbird."