City, State, Federal Collaboration Circulates Hope at Canton Lake

Aug. 12, 2014 – The installation of two reservoir water circulators will benefit the Canton Lake fishery, says the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

In recent years, significant drawdowns of water from the lake by the city of Oklahoma City, which owns the water rights to the lake, have raised concerns about the sustainability of the fishery. In a collaborative effort, ODWC, the city of Oklahoma City and the U.S. Army Corps have installed two solar-powered water circulation pumps to help sustain the fish population during the hot and stagnant summer months.

Barry Bolton, ODWC fisheries division chief, says the goal of the project is to preserve the Canton Lake fishery so ODWC will not have to restock fish into the lake, a process that takes several years.

“This recreational fishery out here in northwest Oklahoma is one of the best,” Bolton said. “The best walleye fishery, and sand bass, catfish — we’ve got it all.”

Oklahoma City officials expressed optimism that the circulators can have positive effects on both the fishery and the quality of the water supply. Mayor Mick Cornett said the city’s support for the Canton reservoir circulators is a win-win for those concerned about recreation and others concerned about drinking water.

“I think the investment in these circulators shows that we’re committed to Canton Lake for all sorts of uses,” Cornett said. “The city is hoping that this will create a healthier lake. A healthier lake means a better water supply. And a healthier lake means more fish and wildlife in the lake.

“Canton Lake means a lot of things to a lot of people, but it’s certainly important to us,” he continued. “I think there’s mutual gain here for all interested parties.”

Monte Hannon, water quality superintendent for Oklahoma City, said the city is sensitive to the effects that taking water out of Canton can have on recreational uses, primarily fishing. “We try to schedule our takes at such a time that it does not interfere with the activities at the lake and the recreational season,” he said.

Hannon said that Oklahoma City’s most recent water drawdown from Canton Lake has had a greater effect because there has been virtually no rain since then to recharge the lake.

The reservoir circulators are anchored in the deeper areas of the lake. Powered by solar panels, the unit circulates water from deeper levels up and out into more shallow areas. Each unit can move about 10,000 gallons of water each minute and can treat an area of about 35 acres. During the six-month trial, ODWC personnel will periodically sample the lake’s water quality to gauge whether the circulators are affecting dissolved oxygen, temperature and algae production, which are vital to the sustainability of the fishery.

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