Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority
Each year, the Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference draws hundreds of participants from across the state. As citizens or as representatives of various organizations, they come to discuss this important natural resource, its uses, its future, its management and other related issues.
Like so many others, the Grand River Dam Authority is a participant. As an agency that was created to be a “conservation and reclamation district” for the waters of the Grand River, GRDA has its roots firmly planted along the banks of this true Oklahoma resource.
The Grand flows for 125 miles in a southwesterly direction, winding through the Ozark Mountain foothills, before giving itself to the larger Arkansas River, just outside of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Less than 100 years ago, mankind began to harness that flow with the construction of hydroelectric facilities, beginning with GRDA’s Pensacola Dam, in 1940. Over the next quarter century, both GRDA’s Robert S. Kerr Dam, as well as the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Gibson Dam, would also transform Grand’s flowing waters into electricity to power Oklahoma. Of course, a wonderful benefit to that development was a grand chain of lakes that draw thousands each year and support a recreation and tourism industry that boost the economy in towns and cities all around the shores.
So when GRDA established its Ecosystems Management Department in 2004, the goal was to bring a greater focus to lake management and water issues within the Grand River system; since its creation, the department has developed and implemented several programs and processes – at no cost to Oklahoma tax payers – that are designed to do just that. From the ongoing water quality monitoring efforts – conducted on Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir – to the Grand Lake watershed Conferences – hosted by GRDA and drawing interests from a four state region – the focus has grown sharper over the course of the last nine years.
It is a focus that will remain in the years to come. After all, GRDA’s hydroelectric facilities will continue to play a vital role in the overall electric generation portfolio and the lakes region will continue to experience growth and popularity. And, finally, thousands of Oklahomans will still depend on the waters of this river that flows through the very heart of where they live, work and play.
It’s part of the GRDA mission: “to ensure the continued improvement of the quality of life for all of those who utilize our resources.”
Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity touches75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.
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