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WHAT IS CULTURAL EUTROPHICATION?
By-products of fertilizers, municipal waste, farm and feeding operation waste, and other human derived by-products are common pollutants of Oklahoma lakes. Excess nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, can lead to increases in algae growth and depleted oxygen levels, in turn resulting in taste and odor problems as well as accelerated sedimentation.
Lakes and Special Studies
Lakes and Special Studies staff are currently involved in the following projects. For more information, call Paul Koenig at 405.530.8922.
Thunderbird Supersaturated Dissolved Oxygen
Mitigating Cultural Eutrophication
The OWRB Lakes and Special Studies Section works to provide relevant information and solutions to repair Oklahoma's lakes. Reservoirs in Oklahoma face serious impairments due to "cultural eutrophication."
Lakes and Special Studies addresses these problems through:
Lake diagnostics and watershed modeling identify a lake’s key difficulty through water sampling and analysis to facilitate development of feasible mitigation options. Staff employ complex computer programs that predict hydrologic processes (the flow of water and many of its constituents) to create watershed models. Such modeling aids in the diagnosis of impaired watersheds and reservoirs by providing estimates on the inflow of various substances from the surrounding watershed. Models are also used to predict the effects of water and land use/land management as well as stormwater runoff and flood recession rates.
High winds and accelerated wave action have a considerable impact on Oklahoma's reservoirs, especially erosion at the shoreline and high suspended solids in the water. Staff work closely with lake managers and other local officials to implement innovative measures to combat high sediment loading and erosion within watersheds.
Reports of finalized projects can be found on our Technical Reports page.
"Bathymetric mapping" is a technical term for mapping lake-bottom contours. The OWRB's current bathymetric mapping program utilizing GIS and related technologies began in the late 1990s. Its purpose was to develop a tool that could be used to provide accurate determinations of the current storage capacities in the state’s reservoirs. Obtaining accurate storage volumes is an integral tool used in the management of the state’s water supply. For many reservoirs, the only available storage volumes are those that were estimated when the reservoir was first constructed. Because of sediment deposition that occurs in the reservoir, the volume of the reservoir can be reduced over time. By conducting a bathymetric survey, the managing authority of a reservoir can be better equipped to handle critical water management issues.
The process of surveying a reservoir uses a combination of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) and acoustic depth sounding technologies that are incorporated into a hydrographic survey the vessel. The OWRB uses an 18-ft aluminum hull Silverstreak craft with a cabin, powered by a single 115-Horsepower Mercury outboard motor. The equipment used to conduct the survey include: a ruggedized notebook computer, a Syqwest Bathy 1500 Echo Sounder, a Trimble Navigation, Inc. Pro XR GPS receiver with differential global positioning system (DGPS) correction, and an Odom Hydrographics, Inc, DIGIBAR-Pro Profiling Sound Velocimeter. As the survey vessel travels across the lake’s surface on pre-plotted transect lines, the echo sounder gathers approximately eight readings per second from the lake bottom. The depth readings are stored on the survey vessel’s on-board computer along with the positional data generated from the vessel’s GPS receiver. Accurate estimates of area-capacity can be determined for the lake by building a 3-D triangulated irregular network (TIN) model of the reservoir from the collected data.Fact Sheet
Bathymetric maps are available for download on our Lakes of Oklahoma pages and include the following:
Lakes scheduled to be mapped for FY-2013:
Oklahoma reservoirs are sadly missing aquatic vegetation on their shorelines. What is aquatic vegetation and why is this important? Aquatic vegetation refers to plants that can live in permanently saturated soils. Some may be emergent plants such as bulrush, or arrowhead. Some are floating leaved plants like water lilies. Others are completely submersed plants like water stargrass or valisneria. Aquatic plants work as a buffer to the shoreline. Aquatic plants can be a natural and more attractive "rip-rap" with many additional benefits:
To get these wetlands started in a lake OWRB plants potted plants with well established root systems in shallow coves. Then we cage the plants to protect them from turtles, carp and other herbivores. Over time, these plantings (called "founder colonies") will spread by rhizome, fragments, and seed to populate the cove sufficiently to overcome the herbivory pressure and thus no longer need the cages or pens to survive and multiply. This will take several years to establish but once established their spread will be exponential. The positive changes to that littoral zone (shallow shoreline of the lake) ecosytem will be measurable and significant.
The Lakes and Special Studies section along with other partners, such as GRDA, Oklahoma City, and ODWC, have been planting Grand, Wister, Atoka, Ft. Cobb, and Stanley Draper Lakes. With other proposals on the drawing board we are constantly searching for funding sources to continue this work across the state. The OWRB and our partners cannot possibly plant every lake in the state. Our hope is that as successes develop lake managers across our state will see its advantages and want to enhance their shorelines as well.
Other types of restoration can be accomplished through shoreline erosion control projects such as those done in Lake Carl Blackwell, Eucha, and Thunderbird or through new technologies such as floating wetlands or pumping super-oxygenated water into a lake to prevent summertime anoxia (see current studies).
Lastly, invasive nuisance aquatic species put littoral wetlands at risk by out-competing native species which leave holes in the natural ecosystem. Often these species, if not controlled, can become so expansive they become a nuisance not only to the ecosystem but also to lake recreation and water users. In 2013, the Lakes and Special Studies section are working with ODWC to document and control the invasive species commonly referred to as Hydrilla in two reservoirs: Lake Murray and Lake of the Arbuckles.
Reports of finalized projects can be found on our Technical Reports page.
Lake Thunderbird Oxygenation Project - Thanks to the help of the OWRB Financial Assistance Division and EPA, COMCD received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant (ARRA) to install and operate a Supersaturated Dissolved Oxygen (SDOX) system. In 2010, the COMCD partnered with the OWRB, to design, install, and monitor a SDOX pump at the lake’s deepest area near the dam. This energy-efficient pump uses the latest technology to prevent the lake's hypolimnion (colder water below the thermocline) from going anoxic (extremely low D.O. that contributes to taste and odor problems in drinking water and toxic to most biota) throughout the summer months without disrupting the lake’s natural thermocline. The pump essentially mixes water that has been supersaturated with dissolved oxygen to approximately 300%. It has been determined that the seasonal anoxia that occurs each summer is changing the lake's chemistry in a way that it exacerbates the eutrophic condition. Implementation of the SDOX device is targeted to improve water quality in the lake for the biota as well as reduce the cost to treat as a drinking water source. Lake Thunderbird water is treated by the cities of Norman, Del City and Midwest City for potable water supply. Funding for this effort was obtained through the ARRA grant and is being continued in 2013 by COMCD. Preliminary results of the projects has resulted in modest success; reducing lake algal biomass, increasing dissolved oxygen in the hypolimnion, and reversing the chemical change in the lake that has aggravated the eutrophic conditions in the past.
Maintenance of Revegetation Plantings at Lake Atoka - L&SS crew will provide supplemental planting at Lake Atoka with plants from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation habitat program. When the EPA 104(b)(3) grant funds were expended, the City of Oklahoma City continued to contract with L&SS with cost share assistance to provide further years of site maintenance and replanting as necessary of both Atoka and Stanley Draper lakes to provide additional time for founder colony development and spread. Even with extended low water levels at Stanley Draper over the last two years, founder colonies have been successful with many species chasing water levels steadily down. This year lake levels in Draper are rising (currently ~15 foot low!).
Initial project - OWRB and Oklahoma City with help from an EPA 104(b)(3) Wetlands Grant introduced new species of Oklahoma native aquatic plants to Atoka Lake. While the primary goal was to increase wetland acreage in the watershed, erosion control and improved water quality are additional benefits gained from this project. With the use of plastic coated wire, over 200 cages and pens were built at 5 sites around the lake to provide long term protection from carp, turtles and other herbivores in the lake. These cages of plants termed "founder colonies" have been planted with 25 native species of aquatic emergent and submergent plants beneficial to fish and waterfowl. These long term founder colonies will stay in place for several years sending out seeds and fragments slowly populating the lake. Once established these plants will protect the shorelines of these and other coves around the lake from wave action. EPA Final Report
Ft. Cobb 319 Shoreline Plantings - L&SS received an EPA 319 Non-point Source grant to help restore the shoreline of Ft. Cobb Lake to lacustrine wetlands. As with previous projects, such as Atoka and Stanley Draper, the goal of the project is to plant founder colonies of submergent and emergent wetland species that will spread over subsequent years to vegetate much of the habitable littoral zone in the lake. We are excited about the potential for this project because of the generally stable lake-level at Ft. Cobb which should greatly increase the chances of long-term establishment of the introduced wetland species. For this project we have partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) to help propagate plants, as well as plan and install the founder colonies. At the end of 2012, over a 1.5 acres of littoral wetlands has been created over 6 sites.
Eucha Floating Wetlands –This project was funded by EPA 319 Non-point Source funds with cost share assistance from the City of Tulsa. 320 Floating Wetland Islands have been planted and installed at the upper end of Eucha Lake. The intent is to reduce phosphorus loads to the lake through while providing habitat for aquatic organisms and other wildlife. Over 8,000 plants representing some 30 species have been planted on the 3,200 square feet of installed floating wetland islands. Data collection is a cooperative effort with the City of Tulsa by sampling lake water quality, nutrient content of floating island generated sediment, and experimental mesocosms. Habitat use noted by staff includes serving as an otter feeding station in the winter and young-of-the-year (bass and bluegill) fish refuge this spring. The final project report should be available in May 2013.
Oxbow Lakes - With funding from EPA Region 6, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Oklahoma State University we are looking at part of our wetland ecosytem that is largely unknown.
Urban Small Waters Grant (Hefner and Overholser lakes) – $60,000 grant received from Region 6 EPA to assist OKC develop the feasibility of reducing the impact of nutrient enrichment to Lakes Hefner and Overholser. Section staff will perform limited water quality monitoring to supplement BUMP data and establish a predictive water quality model. This tool will be used to estimate the ability of various management practices to reduce the algae content of both reservoirs.
Ardmore City Bathymetric Mapping and Reliable Yield Modeling - The section is currently surveying two unmapped Ardmore City reservoirs; Ardmore City Lake, and Mountain Lake. In addition, modeling work will be done on all of Ardmore City reservoirs to attain reliable yield models that will allow the city to know hydraulic loads through climatic extremes (see other Bathymetric maps).
National Lake Assessment 2007 - In 2007, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board participated in the National Lakes Assessment by sampling thirty-five probabilistic sites throughout Oklahoma (more information).
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Page last updated: February 20, 2013