Notice to the Public

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC

Please be advised Grand River Dam Authority is proposing changes to its Lake Rules and Purchasing Policy. In addition, new rules are proposed for Repairs and Improvements to Grand River Dam Authority Facilities. Written and oral comments will be accepted January 18, 2017 through February 17, 2017.

For more information and the proposed rules
Chapter 35 Notice of Rulemaking Intent
Chapter 35 Lake Rules
Chapter 35 Rule Impact Statement

NOTICE OF WAIVER REQUEST AND PUBLIC HEARING

The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is in receipt of an application to add 18 slips at Southwinds Marina located on Grand Lake, in Delaware County. The applicant requests a waiver of the 1/3 of the cove rule for one dock located at the project. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 19, at 10:00 AM at GRDA’s Administrative Headquarters located in Vinita, Oklahoma. GRDA wishes to solicit comments on this proposed project from all interested individuals and businesses. If you would like to submit written comments or have any questions, please contact Darrell E. Townsend II, Ph.D., Director of Ecosystems Management, PO Box 70, Langley, OK 74350, (918) 256-0616.

Notice Of Waiver Request

The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is in receipt of an application to transfer ownership for Indian Hills Marina on Grand Lake, in Delaware County. Indian Hills Marina has applied to make modifications to the overall configuration of the marina. The applicant requests a waiver of the 125’, parallel slip, and 1/3 of the cove rule for four docks located at the project. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 19, at 9:00 AM at GRDA’s Administrative Headquarters located in Vinita, Oklahoma. GRDA wishes to solicit comments on this proposed project from all interested individuals and businesses. If you would like to submit written comments or have any questions, please contact Darrell E. Townsend II, Ph.D., Director of Ecosystems Management, PO Box 70, Langley, OK 74350, (918) 256-0616.

Notice Of Waiver Request

The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is in receipt of an application for Red 11 Resort Marina on Grand Lake, in Delaware County. The applicant requests waivers of the 125’ and parallel slip rule to permit existing docks that include a 24’ X 150’ dock with 10 covered slips, a 38’ X 137’ dock with 6 covered slips and an 8’ X 32’ uncovered courtesy dock. No additions are proposed at this time. GRDA wishes to solicit comments on this proposed project from all interested individuals and businesses. If you would like to submit written comments or have any questions, please contact Darrell E. Townsend II, Ph.D., Director of Ecosystems Management, PO Box 70, Langley, OK 74350, (918) 256-0616.

Rothermel to serve as next GRDA CFO

GRDA’s Eddie Rothermel has been selected as the organization’s next Chief Financial Officer. He is an 11-year GRDA veteran.

GRDA’s Eddie Rothermel has been selected as the organization’s next Chief Financial Officer. He is an 11-year GRDA veteran.

Vinita – Eddie Rothermel, an 11-year veteran of the Grand River Dam Authority, has been selected as the organization’s next Chief Financial Officer.  He will succeed current CFO Carolyn Dougherty who will officially retire February 1, 2017.

For over three decades, Rothermel has served in various accounting, auditing and financial management positions with Oklahoma state agencies. Prior to joining GRDA as Deputy CFO in 2005, he spent 15 years with the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector, where he served as audit manager.  He earned his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO, Edmond) and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner, Chartered Global Management Accountant and Certified Procurement Officer with the State of Oklahoma.

“Eddie Rothermel brings a wealth of state agency experience and knowledge to the position of CFO,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “He has provided solid leadership in his current role as Deputy CFO and I look forward to working with him in his new role to continue our upward trajectory.  We are grateful for the contributions he has already made to GRDA and are anticipating many more in the future.”

Dougherty, a 30-year GRDA veteran, echoed Sullivan’s comments, adding that she can retire comfortably, knowing that both GRDA’s customers and the agency’s financial department are in Rothermel’s very capable hands.

“I’m thrilled with this decision by the GRDA board and management,” said Dougherty. “I would not have made it the past several years without Eddie. He is the kind of day-to-day leader that will continue to accomplish GRDA’s financial goals. I can’t wait to see what the finance department does over the next few years under his leadership.”

Rothermel will lead a GRDA financial operation that oversees $330 million in annual operating expenses and an annual payroll of approximately $38 million. According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, this year GRDA’s operations will generate $541 million in economic activity with a more than $1 billion total impact on the Oklahoma economy.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

GRDA to make more land available for PVA hunts along Neosho River

An aerial view of some of the property along the Neosho River, where the annual “Great American Deer Hunt” will take place later this month. Earlier this year, the Grand River Dam Authority and the Mid-America Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America expanded on an existing partnership to make even more GRDA property available to PVA hunters in 2016.

An aerial view of some of the property along the Neosho River, where the annual “Great American Deer Hunt” will take place later this month. Earlier this year, the Grand River Dam Authority and the Mid-America Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America expanded on an existing partnership to make even more GRDA property available to PVA hunters in 2016.

Miami – Two years ago, a partnership between the Grand River Dam Authority and the Mid-America Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) resulted in increased hunting opportunities for PVA members. Today, a new agreement will result in even more opportunities.

In 2014, GRDA first made some of its Ottawa County property (along the Neosho River) available to the PVA for the group’s annual “Great American Deer Hunt” for disabled veterans, which was hosted in cooperation with the River Bottom Sportsmen Club, the City of Miami, and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. That event had taken place on adjacent property since 2008 but the addition of GRDA lands allowed the PVA the room to accommodate more hunters. Last month, the GRDA Board of Directors gave its approval to a new lease between the organizations that will open up even more property and extend those opportunities throughout the hunting season. Outside the “Great American Deer Hunt” (which takes place October 28 -30) GRDA will also devote 625 acres for PVA to use during deer, waterfowl, and turkey season.

The United States flag is displayed in downtown Miami, Oklahoma, prior to the 2014 “Great American Deer Hunt” for disabled veterans. That year, the Grand River Dam Authority first partnered with the Mid-American Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and made some of its Neosho River bottoms property available to hunters. Prior to the upcoming 2016 hunt, GRDA is making even more property available.

The United States flag is displayed in downtown Miami, Oklahoma, prior to the 2014 “Great American Deer Hunt” for disabled veterans. That year, the Grand River Dam Authority first partnered with the Mid-American Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and made some of its Neosho River bottoms property available to hunters. Prior to the upcoming 2016 hunt, GRDA is making even more property available.

“These annual hunts have been very successful,” said GRDA Neosho River Bottoms Director Aaron Roper. “We’re happy to be a part of providing a wider range of outdoor opportunities to PVA members.”

Over 40 veterans with spinal cord injuries have had the opportunity to participate in the hunt since it first started in 2008. And, with the help of its major partners and many other private contributors, MAPVA is able to provide the visiting hunters not only with the opportunity but also the gear, lodging and meals needed as they make the trip as PVA’s guests.

“Hunting opportunities for people with mobility impairments are very limited and public lands offer limited access for the disabled, said Mid-America PVA Chapter President Bill Kokendoffer. “When GRDA and MAPVA came to this agreement it opened new doors for our outdoor enthusiast. It offers a place where these disabled hunters can go and not be hindered by other hunters taking the prime spots.”

Kokendoffer added that limiting the access to no more than four hunters per hunt also gives the participants a better chance of success. “We’re looking forward to many years of successful hunts on this property,” he said.

The opportunity to contribute to the future successes of the annual “Great Deer Hunt” is another way for GRDA to meet its multi-faceted mission in Oklahoma. Earlier this summer, the Authority also announced a lease agreement with Miami’s Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College which will help expand agricultural education opportunities. The $1/year agreement allows the college to lease approximately 1,600 acres of GRDA lands, also along the Neosho River. Some of that property will be subleased by NEO to area pecan producers and ranchers. Other property will be used for an outdoor, hands-on agricultural classroom.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our work with PVA and other partners in the Neosho Bottoms,” added Roper.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

Area business, organizations joining forces on lake area cleanup efforts

In an ongoing effort to help keep Grand Lake’s scenery as “grand” as possible, the Grand River Dam Authority is working with the new Grove Community Living and Learning Committee (GCLLC) on a beautification initiative.

While the committee is planning new community clean-up programs for the Grove area, GRDA will be working to coordinate quarterly cleanups in several key areas of the lake, beginning near Grove.

Each month GRDA Superintendent of Shoreline Enforcement Scott Horton flies the shoreline of Grand Lake to identify compliance issues. As a result of those flights, he has identified areas which have a high concentration of trash and old dock foam. Those flights led to the establishment of the quarterly cleanup schedule, which began in Duck Creek last July. Because of the work done at that time, over six tons of dock foam and trash were removed from the area.

The next cleanup is scheduled for the Sailboat Bridge area of Grand Lake on THURSDAY, October 27 (this date was changed from Wednesday, October 19 due to severe weather in the forecast). Several lake area dock construction companies including Goldner Company, Shepherd’s Dock Construction, DD Welding and Fabrication, Premier Dock Construction LLC and the Dock Guys will be participating. Also, inmate work crews from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections providing additional labor. Horton said a similar cleanup –again in Duck Creek – will also take place in November.

Grove’s Pete Churchwell, who serves both as chairman of the GRDA Board and chairman of the GCLLC, said this type of cleanup effort goes hand-in-hand with the initiatives of the GCLCC. While GRDA’s efforts will focus on the water, GCLCC will focus on the land around the shoreline. Going forward, education, community health and lake access area for non-boaters will also be GCLCC priorities. However, it all must start with clean up and, working together, these organizations are doing just that.

 

Ahead of late October bond issue… GRDA receives credit rating upgrades

Vinita – As the Grand River Dam Authority continues preparing for a large bond issue later this month, it is getting a boost and some positive reinforcement, from the nation’s credit rating agencies.

A graph showing the Grand River Dam Authority’s trend of improving credit ratings (2005-2016).

A graph showing the Grand River Dam Authority’s trend of improving credit ratings (2005-2016).

Perhaps the biggest news came last. On Friday, October 7, Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings announced that it would raise its long-term rating and underlying rating (SPUR) to ‘AA-‘ from ‘A+’ on GRDA’s earlier bonds. Further, S&P announced it was assigning an “AA-“ rating to the upcoming bond issue, with a stable outlook.

That news came on the heels of a Thursday (October 6) announcement by Fitch that it was assigning an “A+” rating to the Authority’s latest bond issue. Fitch also upgraded GRDA’s 2008 and 2010 series bonds to “A+” from “A.” Earlier in the week, Moody’s also assigned an A1 rating to the upcoming bond issue and reaffirmed its “A1” rating of existing GRDA bonds.

“This is tremendous news from all agencies,” said GRDA Chief Financial Officer Carolyn Dougherty. “This is the kind of affirmation from the credit rating industry that our team has worked so hard to receive. The efforts of our board, management team and workforce are reflected here.”

Dougherty added that strong customer relationships also contribute greatly to this kind of credit rating improvements. “This is what can happen when we are able to work so closely with our customers on long-term planning,” she said. “Our contracts reflect the long-term intent of these relationships and enable us to utilize electric generation resources that are appropriately-sized to meet customer needs.”

The debt profile needed to acquire and operate those resources is also shaped to meet the diversity of the GRDA customer mix, which allows for maximum use of tax-exempt bonds, she added. In the end, the result is a long-term and affordable source of electricity for the customer and an improved financial foundation for GRDA, as recognized by the rating agencies.
In its statement regarding its upgrade, S&P noted several key factors in the Authority’s favor. A diverse power supply, improved cash flow, significantly reduced debt service requirements, prudent risk management policies, good operating performance and ample system capacity to meet the energy demands of its customers through 2031 were just some of the reasons S&P cited for the upgrade.

The agency also noted that “in our view, [GRDA’s] financial profile has strengthened in recent years, and actual results have generally met or exceeded forecasts.”

In a similar statement, Fitch noted that its ratings of GRDA reflected “the recent improvement in GRDA’s financial profile, as well as Fitch’s expectation that the Authority will sustain financial metrics supportive of the ‘A+’ rating category.”

Finally, Moody’s stated that “GRDA’s competitive advantage remains its low generating costs, which allows it to charge an electric rate that consistently ranks among the lowest in Oklahoma.”

GRDA will use the funds from the October 25 bond issue to refinance other outstanding bonds, similar to how a homeowner may refinance a mortgage. That effort, coupled with this recent news from the rating agencies, will result in substantial savings for the Authority’s ratepayers.

“The decision to pursue this bond refinancing was driven by our goal to save our ratepayers money,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “We are committed to efficient, reliable and competitive operations and these improved credit ratings illustrate how that commitment also leads to improved financial stability.”

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

GRDA Crews headed to Florida to assist with electricity restoration efforts

A total of 12 Grand River Dam Authority employees and 11 vehicles rolled out of the Authority’s Transmission Maintenance Headquarters before dawn on Friday, October 7. They were headed to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to assist with power restoration in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

A total of 12 Grand River Dam Authority employees and 11 vehicles rolled out of the Authority’s Transmission Maintenance Headquarters before dawn on Friday, October 7. They were headed to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to assist with power restoration in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Pryor – In the early morning hours of Friday (October 7), just before dawn, 12 employees of the Grand River Dam Authority’s power line maintenance and fleet management departments climbed into their bucket trucks, line crew trucks and other department vehicles and headed to the East Coast. Waiting for them there? The destruction left behind by Hurricane Matthew.

It was less than 24 hours before the early morning departure that GRDA first learned of the need for its assistance in Florida. As part of a nationwide mutual aid agreement among electric utilities within the American Public Power Association (APPA), crews from all around the country are able to lend a hand to other storm-affected utilities at times like these. That network of utilities and planning efforts means the mobilization of resources can happen quickly.

GRDA’s mutual aid crew, including Doug Feeling, Jesse Payton, Josh Brazil, Jeff Ryan, Cody Ritter, David Hefner, Trent Fittje, Tommy Hill, Jerry Doak, Lindy Huxtable, Larry Hale and (not pictured) Chester Rothhammer. This crew left early Friday morning (October 7) for Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to assist in restoring the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.

GRDA’s mutual aid crew, including Doug Feeling, Jesse Payton, Josh Brazil, Jeff Ryan, Cody Ritter, David Hefner, Trent Fittje, Tommy Hill, Jerry Doak, Lindy Huxtable, Larry Hale and (not pictured) Chester Rothhammer. This crew left early Friday morning (October 7) for Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to assist in restoring the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.

The GRDA Team was headed for Jacksonville Beach, where it will assist Beaches Energy in restoration efforts. They expected to begin on Sunday (October 9), after a full assessment of the damage was completed.

“Even though they’re going all the way to Florida to assist, it’s nothing that our guys are not prepared for,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty. “Of course, having dealt with Oklahoma weather, they have plenty of experience in system repair and restoration following storms. Priority number one will be to work safely and after that, the goal is to assist the local utility in getting power restored as soon as possible.”

Alberty added that GRDA crews have provided this type of assistance before. Back in 2005, several employees went to Louisiana to help restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.

“For a few of these guys, this is the second deployment to a hurricane site,” he added.

With a convoy of 11 large utility vehicles, the 1,180-mile trip to the work area will be a slow one. However, once the work begins, there will be long days and plenty to do.

“We’re proud of these guys and proud that GRDA can help another electricity provider,” said Alberty. “It may be all the way over on the East Coast, but I think our team still sees it as an opportunity to lend an hand to a neighbor at a critical time.”

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

Floodwater release bulletin

At 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 6:

  • Grand Lake elevation was 741.99 feet.
  • The Grand River Dam Authority has opened one (1) main floodgate at Pensacola Dam, discharging 5,496 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
  • Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 11,949 cfs of water through generation.
  • Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 17,455 cfs.
  • Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 16,890 cfs.
  • Lake Hudson elevation was 620.97 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
  • No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
  • Four units were online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 27,000 cfs of water through generation.
  • Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 17,452 cfs.

Grove’s Churchwell is new GRDA Chairman

GRDA Chairman Pete Churchwell.

GRDA Chairman Pete Churchwell.

Pete Churchwell (Grove) will lead the Grand River Dam Authority as chairman of its board of directors over the next 12 months. Churchwell officially assumed the chairman position at the September 14 GRDA Board of Directors meeting in Tulsa. He replaces outgoing 2015-16 Chairman Ed Townsend (Grove).

After a career in the electric utility industry that spanned nearly 40 years, Churchwell retired as president of Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) in July 2004. In May 2014, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin appointed him to the GRDA Board where he has also served as chairman of the GRDA Assets Committee.

Outside of GRDA, he has also served on the board of directors of both the Grand Lake Watershed Alliance Foundation and Har-Ber Village Museum, located on the shores of Grand Lake. He also served as a member of the International Society of the Energy Advocates; board member and chairman of the Council of Education and Workforce Development for the State Chamber of Oklahoma; and as a previous board member of Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tulsa and completed Harvard Business School’s advanced management program.

“Chairman Churchwell spent four decades working in the electric utility industry and today, GRDA and its ratepayers are the beneficiaries of all that experience,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “Combine that with his knowledge of the Grand Lake area and there is no question he will do a great job as chairman of the board. Over the past two years, he’s made many positive contributions to our organization as chair of the Assets Committee and I look forward to working with him as he fills the chairman’s role.”

Also in September, Joe Vandevier (Owasso) moves into the chair-elect post for the next 12 months.

GRDA Chair-elect Joe Vandevier.

GRDA Chair-elect Joe Vandevier.

Also appointed to the GRDA Board by Governor Fallin (October 2014), Vandevier is the founder and current managing member of Downhole Dynamics, a company that provides business and technical consulting for enhanced production in the oil and gas industry.

A member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Vandevier received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Tulsa. His experience in the oil and gas industry spans 40 years. During that time he served as vice president of operations in the United States, Canada and Russia for Centrilift. He also served as president and chief operating officer of Wood Group ESP, and as a senior adviser for Baker Hughes.

“Director Vandevier’s experience in business and industry speaks for itself,” said Sullivan. “His leadership is very valuable to GRDA, he had already made significant contributions as our chair of the Audit, Finance, Budget & Policy committee.”

GRDA is governed by a seven-member board of directors comprised of representatives from each GRDA customer class (municipals, electric cooperatives and industrials) as well as the GRDA lakes area. Two at-large representatives also sit on the board. Appointments are made by the Oklahoma Governor (3), Speaker of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate. Two other board positions are ex-officio positions, filled by the general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) and executive director of the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) or by their designees. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms, with one position opening each year, to ensure continuity.

Floodwater release bulletin

At 4:00 PM on Monday, September 19:

  • Grand Lake elevation was 745.06 feet.
  • At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, one (1) east floodgate was open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 190 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
  • Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 12,109 cfs of water through generation.
  • Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 12,299 cfs.
  • Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 13,003 cfs.
  • Lake Hudson elevation was 620.11 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
  • No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
  • Four units were online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 32,130 cfs of water through generation.
  • Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 12,322 cfs.

Floodwater release bulletin

At 10:00 AM on Thursday, September 15:

  • Grand Lake elevation was 744.92 feet.
  • At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, one (1) east floodgate was open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 182 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
  • Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 12,268 cfs of water through generation.
  • Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 12,450 cfs.
  • Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 12,051 cfs.
  • Lake Hudson elevation was 620.47 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
  • No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
  • Two units were online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 16,200 cfs of water through generation.
  • Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 12,520 cfs.

Floodwater release bulletin

At 11:30 AM on Tuesday, September 13:

  • Grand Lake elevation was 744.50 feet. Daily target elevation for September 13 is 743 feet.
  • At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, five (5) east floodgates were open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
  • Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 12,168 cfs of water through generation.
  • Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 18,168 cfs.
  • Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 30,083 cfs.
  • Lake Hudson elevation was 620.08 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
  • No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
  • Four units were online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 32,130 cfs of water through generation.
  • Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 18,265 cfs.

 

GRDA inviting public to participate in online Illinois River user survey

In an effort to establish a parameter for management of the Illinois River in the future, the Grand River Dam Authority is asking for the public’s help.

GRDA has contracted with Oklahoma State University to conduct a survey about the public’s experiences on the river and the value it places on this natural resource. This online survey – which can be found at https://goo.gl/uFG6xb – will be active September 1 and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Anyone who has experienced the river is invited to participate.

“As we shape our management plan for the Illinois we want the public’s input,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty, “so the more river users we can get involved in this survey, the better. We’re encouraging everyone who has experienced these waters to take part.”

Those experiences include floating, fishing, swimming, sight-seeing, camping or any other activity related to the water. The survey includes questions about the most recent experience on the river and also provides the opportunity for the public to evaluate floating experiences and to suggest improvements and enhancements to river management.

On July 1, the Oklahoma Scenic River Commission (OSRC), which had previously managed the Illinois River and its tributaries in Northeast Oklahoma, was absorbed by GRDA. Since that time, GRDA has committed new resources and manpower to river operations. Information gained through this survey will help the Authority map out its long-term plan for protecting and preserving this important natural resource.

GRDA Police Department offers water safety “DO’s and DON’Ts” for Labor Day Weekend

Whether your Labor Day Weekend plans include a trip to the Illinois River or to Grand or Hudson Lake, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is encouraging you to boat and float safe, smart and sober.

Whether your Labor Day Weekend plans include a trip to the Illinois River or to Grand or Hudson Lake, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is encouraging you to boat and float safe, smart and sober.

As thousands of people are gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend on the waters of Grand and Hudson lakes and the Illinois River, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is also reinforcing its water safety messages.

Boating and floating safe, smart and sober is the best way to create an enjoyable outing while taking advantage of the many recreational opportunities these waters offer. As always, GRDA officers will be out in full force over the weekend to assist visitors, encourage safety and enforce rules and regulations.

“We want the public to come out and have a great time on the lakes and the river over the weekend,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty, “but we want them to play safe when they do visit. That is why we always, always encourage life jacket use and practicing common sense on the water.”

GRDA has shared the following “Dos and DON’Ts” before, but as you head to the water this weekend, please keep these in mind:

  • DO wear a life jacket. They float, you don’t. However, they only work if you wear them.  Remember, if you are floating the river, children 13 years of age and under are required to wear a life jacket at all times. On the lake, children 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a life jacket on vessels under 26 feet long. However, we encourage everyone to wear a life jacket at all times.
  • DON’T DRINK AND BOAT. Alcohol use continues to be the single leading factor contributing to boating accidents. Don’t become a statistic.
  • DO know the water and environment you will be boating or floating on.
  • DO keep a good lookout while underway.
  • DO shut your engines off when people are in the water near your boat.
  • DO observe the nautical “rules of the road.”
  • DO check the weather forecast before getting underway.
  • DO keep a balanced load and trim boat.
  • DON’T overload your boat.
  • DON’T ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or any place that is not designated for sitting.
  • DON’T swim or boat alone. Stay within sight of companions.
  • Floating the river? DO let the commercial float operator know if you are anyone in your party are a first-time or novice floater(s). They may be able to pair you with an experienced paddler/floater or float you in a raft where there is a lesser chance for capsizing;
  • DON’T dive into the river from bridges, bluffs, stream banks and trees.
  • DO respect the weather and the water. If you are tired while floating, take a break on the bank or on a gravel bar to rest.
  • Want more information? DO check out additional boating laws at: www.grda.com/grda-boating-laws .

If you need immediate assistance on the waters, the GRDA Police recommends you call 911.

Also, please be aware of the signs, buoys, sirens, fencing and flashing lights you may see around Pensacola Dam, Robert S. Kerr Dam,  the Salina Pumped Storage Project and the Low Water Dam. These are all intended to notify you of areas where water may rise swiftly, no trespassing or no diving is allowed or footing is unstable.

Finally, GRDA reminds you that Labor Day Weekend is a great chance to take advantage of the free tours of historic Pensacola Dam before the tour season ends. Tours originate from the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center, located just west of the dam, in Langley. If you are planning on taking the tour, remember to wear comfortable shoes (there is a fair amount of walking involved) and dress for the weather. Also, all persons over 18 are required to present some form of ID. Please be prepared to show that before taking the free tour of an Oklahoma structure that has captured the interest of the public since 1940.

Whether you are coming to the lake, to the river, to the dam or maybe to all three, GRDA encourages you to keep these tips in mind as you enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

GRDA joins with other utilities in sharing “Pokémon Go” safety message

Vinita – While the “Pokémon Go” game continues to capture the interest of people all across the country, the Grand River Dam Authority is joining with other electric utilities in offering a simple safety reminder.

“We just want to remind people to stay clear of substations, generating facilities, power lines and any other areas where fencing and signage are in place to keep you safe and separated from the potential dangers of high voltage electricity, high waters or other hazards,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty. “Good luck catching them all, but just stay safe and aware of your surroundings as you do it.”

According to Wikipedia, “Pokémon Go” is a location-based augmented reality mobile game that allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon. By utilizing both GPS and cameras on mobile devices, these creatures appear as if they were in the real world. However, in the real world, players need to be aware of their surroundings.

Alberty said his organization has not had any issues with “Pokémon Go” players at its facilities but simply wanted to join utilities across the nation in sharing this message as a precaution.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

GRDA Police encouraging safe outings on the lakes and river during July 4 holiday

Reminder: special boating rules in Duck Creek, Woodard Hollow
The Duck Creek rules are as follows:

• All watercraft wider than 8.5 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is wider than 8.5 ft. Duck

Boats make their way across the waters of Grand Lake’s Duck Creek during the 2015 Independence Day holiday. GRDA is reminding boaters of the special rules in place for Duck Creek and Woodard Hollow, and also encouraging safe, smart and sober outings on Grand and Hudson lakes and the Illinois River during the upcoming holiday weekend.  GRDA Photo by Katie Robbins.

Boats make their way across the waters of Grand Lake’s Duck Creek during the 2015 Independence Day holiday. GRDA is reminding boaters of the special rules in place for Duck Creek and Woodard Hollow, and also encouraging safe, smart and sober outings on Grand and Hudson lakes and the Illinois River during the upcoming holiday weekend. GRDA Photo by Katie Robbins.

Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of length).

• All watercraft longer than 30 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is longer than 30 ft., Duck Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of width).

• All watercraft smaller than both measurements listed above may operate on plane not to exceed 30 mph in Duck Creek from official sunrise to official sunset.

• All watercraft must “idle” and avoid producing a wake from official sunset to official sunrise (night time) in Duck Creek between May 1 and Oct. 1. (No wake in Duck Creek for all vessels at night).

• All watercraft must stay to the right of the center lane of buoys and at least 150 feet away from any dock, breakwater, structure or shoreline.

• On the actual day of the Duck Creek Fireworks (Sunday, July 3, 2016), all watercraft shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek (all day, all night).

• The area known as “The Turn” (area near Harbor’s View and Ugly John’s) is a no wake zone for all vessels at all times.

• Areas north of “The Turn” are No Skiing areas and the vessel size restrictions mentioned above apply to this area as well.

The Woodard Hollow rules are as follows:

• All watercraft wider than 8.5 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Woodard Hollow. If the vessel is wider than 8.5 feet, Woodard Hollow is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of length.

• All watercraft longer than 30 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Woodard Hollow. If the vessel is longer than 30 feet, Woodard Hollow is a no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of width.

• All watercraft smaller than both measurements listed above may operate on plane not to exceed 30 mph in Woodard Hollow from official sunrise to official sunset.

• All watercraft must stay at least 150 feet away from any dock, breakwater, structure, or shoreline at any speed above “idle”.

While these are special rules for specific areas of Grand Lake, the GRDA Police reminds lake visitors that following lake rules and proper boating practices on all areas of the water is the best way to ensure a safe outing. What follows is a simple guide to some of the frequently asked questions concerning lake rules.

• Boats must not operate within 200 feet of any GRDA dam or no closer than 500 feet during generation.

• Boats, including personal watercraft (PWCs) must not operate within 50 feet of another vessel when running at speeds over 10 miles per hour (provided this prohibition shall not apply to vessels operating in sanctioned events).

• The nighttime speed limit on GRDA lakes is 25 miles per hour.

• Wake jumping is prohibited in any cove, creek or hollow.

• Water skiing, jet skiing and similar activities are permitted only during daylight hours and are prohibited upstream from above Twin Bridges, in Elm Creek, east of Grove. A boat towing a skier must have a person (at least 8 years old) in position to observe that skier, unless a rear view mirror has been installed for boat operator observation of skier.

Finally, GRDA Police continues to stress the dangers of drinking and boating. According to the United States Coast Guard’s most recent statistics on recreational boating (2015), alcohol use remains the leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Nationwide in 2015, there were 260 accidents, 228 injuries and 91 deaths as a result of drinking and boating.

“It’s just a bad idea,” said GRDA Assistant General Manager/Chief of Law Enforcement and Lake Operations Brian Edwards. “It can impair your judgment, your depth perception and overall ability to operate your vessel. Plus, it creates a dangerous situation not only for you but for your passengers and everyone else in the water around you.”

GRDA officers will be continuing the “I Got Caught” life jacket campaign during the July 4 holiday, on GRDA lakes and the Illinois River. As part of the program, free t-shirts are given to those boaters who are “caught” wearing their life jackets on GRDA waters.

Finally, if you are on the water and need immediate assistance, the GRDA Police recommends you call 911. However, if you are on the boat with no cell phone access, you can use Marine Band 16 to radio for help.

For more information on the department and lake safety, or for information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911 or visit us online at grda.com. For more information on the lakes area, water safety or GRDA’s lake-related permits, you can also stop by the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley.

GRDA Police announce closures to Wolf Creek during Thunder event

The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is announcing that portions of the Wolf Creek arm of Grand Lake, as well as the Wolf Creek boat ramp will be closed during the Fourth Annual Thunder on Wolf Creek event to be held June 24-26. However, during this time, the department added that home owners will be allowed access to their private docks.

All vessel operators should watch for special event navigational buoys and officers that will be present in the area. 

The annual boat racing event, conducted by the Oklahoma Boat Racing Association will offer variety of activities. More information about the event can be found at www.thunderonwolfcreek.com.  

GRDA Police announce closures to Wolf Creek during SDBA event

The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is announcing that portions of the Wolf Creek arm of Grand Lake, as well as the Wolf Creek boat ramp will be closed during the Southern Drag Boat Association (SDBA) event held June 18 and 19. However, during this time, the department added that home owners will be allowed access to their private docks.

All vessel operators should watch for special event navigational buoys and officers that will be present in the area.

According to SDBA, the national race will feature a quarter mile track where spectators will be able to watch boats reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The event is slated to include 100 racing teams and is expected to draw around 3,000 spectators. The race qualifications will be held on June 18 from 9 am to 6 pm, with racing heats held June 19 from 12 to 7 pm. For more information, visit www.sdbaracing.com.

GRDA reassures the public that Grand Lake State Park swim beach is open

The Grand River Dam Authority is reassuring the public that the swim beach at Grand Lake State Park is open.

Recently a story was shared among social media sites that the swim beach at Grand Lake State Park in Bernice was closed due to bacteria presence in the waters. That was the case in 2014 due to the presence of E.Coli in the water. However, the Authority’s most recent sampling of the water shows all levels are in good shape now for swimmers.

“Public safety is our top priority,” said Melanie Earl, GRDA Assistant Superintendent of Media Services. ”We constantly monitor the water quality of the bodies of water under GRDA’s jurisdiction, and work diligently to inform the public anytime there is a concern of safety.”

Using genetic monitoring techniques (Microbial Source Tracking), GRDA’s Water Quality Research Lab found no fecal contamination (including no detection of human sources, which have the most potential to cause illness) in the water samples taken at Grand Lake State Park last month. The site will be tested again next week.

“GRDA’s Water Lab works daily monitoring the waters of Grand and Hudson Lakes, and there currently are no areas of concern in regards to public safety. However, like you would any time you visit the water, we just ask you to use common sense and follow safe swimming practices,” said Earl

If you do plan on swimming soon in area lakes or rivers, GRDA does want to pass along these tips from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ). They are good to keep in mind any time you visit the water:

• Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping in the water.
• Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with clean soap and water immediately after swimming.
• Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
• Wear ear plugs to prevent ear infections.
• Wear swim goggles or masks to prevent eye infections.
• Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
• Take children to restroom frequently/use swim diapers on infants.
• Also, after swimming, always remember to wash hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.

 

GRDA Police shares information, tips to help prevent the “station wagon” effect

Virtually all boating-related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents are preventable and that is why the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is educating boaters on the “station wagon effect.” Good information and the right precautions can lead to safe, enjoyable outings.

Virtually all boating-related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents are preventable and that is why the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is educating boaters on the “station wagon effect.” Good information and the right precautions can lead to safe, enjoyable outings.

“Virtually all CO poisonings are preventable.”

With boating season rapidly approaching, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is once again sharing information about carbon monoxide (CO), the “station wagon” effect and the possible dangers it can present to boaters.

“It is certainly something boaters need to be aware of,” said GRDA Chief of Law Enforcement/Lake Operations Brian Edwards. “The station wagon effect is essentially when fumes from a boat’s exhaust travel back into the boat or accumulate in an area near the boat where swimmers may be in the water.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CO can build up near the rear swim deck or water platform of larger boats equipped with generators that vent towards the rear. CO that builds up in the air space below the stern deck or around the swim deck can prove deadly, within a few seconds of exposure. Boats traveling at slow speeds, or idling in the water, can cause CO to build up in the cabin, cockpit, bridge, aft deck or even open areas of the boat. Wind blowing in from the back of the boat can also increase the chances of a CO buildup. Boats operating at a high bow angle, or boats that are improperly or heavily loaded, or boats with an opening that draws in exhaust, can also lead to CO buildup.

“However, the good news is that virtually all CO poisonings are preventable,” said Edwards, “but it’s important to know the facts so that you can protect yourself and your passengers. Then you can go enjoy your time on the water.”

To help educate boaters, GRDA is sharing the following information:

  • Install approved, battery operated CO detectors in each accommodation area of your boat. Test them before each trip out.
  • Properly install and maintain all fuel-burning engines and appliances on your boat.
  • Have your boat’s engine and exhaust systems maintained and inspected on a regular basis by experienced and trained mechanics.
  • Even in inclement weather, keep forward facing hatches open to allow fresh air to circulate in accommodation spaces. When possible, operate the boat so that prevailing winds will help dissipate exhaust.
  • Never swim and play in areas where engines vent their exhaust
  • Watch children closely when they play on rear swim decks or water platforms
  • Never block exhaust outlets. Blocking outlets can cause CO to build up in the cabin and cockpit areas, even when hatches, windows, portholes and doors are closed.
  • Dock, beach or anchor your boat at least 20 feet from the nearest boat that is a running a generator or engine. Exhaust from a nearby vessel can send CO into the cabin or cockpit of a boat.

It is also important to educate all your boat passengers about the following signs and symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • Nausea

Remember, CO cannot be seen or smelled. If anyone has these symptoms, move them to fresh air immediately and investigate the cause and take corrective action. Seek medical attention if necessary.

 “Taking these precautions and educating yourself on the facts of carbon monoxide and boating can go a long way in helping to keep boaters safe,” said Edwards. He added that the public can also find even more information about CO and boating on the United States Coast Guard’s boating information site at http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/carbon-monoxide.php.

Also, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/co/boating.htm for more information.

For more information on the GRDA Police Department or information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911, or visit online at www.grda.com.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Floodwater release bulletin

At 12PM on Friday, May 20:

  • Grand Lake elevation was 745.14 feet. Daily target elevation for May 20 is 743.27 feet.
  • At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, one (1) east floodgate was open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 194 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
  • Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 14,020 cfs of water through generation.
  • Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 14,214 cfs.
  • Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 10,661 cfs.
  • Lake Hudson elevation was 619.58 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
  • No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
  • Four units were online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 31,590 cfs of water through generation.
  • Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 14,795 cfs.

Floodwater release bulletin

At 3:30PM on Wednesday, May 18:

• Grand Lake elevation was 745.08 feet. Daily target elevation for May 18 is 743.13 feet.
• At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, seven (7) east floodgates were open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 10,024 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
• Six (6) units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 13,819 cfs of water through generation.
• Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 23,843 cfs.
• Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 44,121 cfs.

• Lake Hudson elevation was 619.10 feet. Normal elevation is 619 feet.
• No floodgates were open at the Robert S. Kerr Dam.
• One unit was online at the Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, releasing 8,370 cfs of water through generation.
• Inflows into Lake Hudson totaled 26,660 cfs.

Governor signs Senate Bill 1388 … OSRC, GRDA merger to be finalized

Grand River Dam Authority Project/Research Director Rich Zamor, Ph.D., works inside the GRDA Ecosystems Water Quality Research Laboratory in Langley, Oklahoma. With the merger between GRDA and the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) effective on July 1, GRDA’s stewardship mission for the waters of the Grand River System will also expand to the Illinois River in Northeast Oklahoma.

Grand River Dam Authority Project/Research Director Rich Zamor, Ph.D., works inside the GRDA Ecosystems Water Quality Research Laboratory in Langley, Oklahoma. With the merger between GRDA and the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) effective on July 1, GRDA’s stewardship mission for the waters of the Grand River System will also expand to the Illinois River in Northeast Oklahoma.

Vinita – The Grand River Dam Authority is viewing its merger with the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) as an opportunity to expand on the important work OSRC has advanced, while also continuing its own stewardship responsibilities in Oklahoma.

On Wednesday, May 11, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1388 into law. That bill calls for GRDA to assume the duties and responsibilities of OSRC on July 1, 2016. It also gives GRDA the power to set a new fee structure for recreational use, both along the Illinois River and in the spillway area below Pensacola Dam.

The OSRC was established by the legislature in 1977 to protect, enhance and preserve the Illinois River and its tributaries, Barren Fork Creek and Flint Creek. However, the agency — which receives roughly half of its funding from state appropriations — has faced many budget cuts in recent years, making it difficult for it to complete its mission. GRDA, a non-appropriated state agency — primarily funded by revenues from the sale of electricity — will absorb OSRC’s operations, employees and assets, as well as the stewardship mission.

“The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission has been dying a slow death of a thousand cuts,” said OSRC Administrator Ed Fite. “The OSRC was once afloat, renowned as the most-efficient environmental agency of state government, but in recent years has barely been treading water.”

While the legislation ends appropriations for the OSRC and shifts those costs to GRDA, the mission of the OSRC will continue, said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan.

“This merger allows the important work of caring for the scenic rivers to go on,” said Sullivan. “GRDA’s stewardship responsibilities for the Grand River system have always been similar and we feel like combining the experience and expertise of both OSRC and GRDA can only benefit all of these waters.”

Sullivan also noted that Fite’s 30-plus years of experience in Oklahoma water quality issues will be a great benefit to the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department.

“This merger will give him the opportunity and support to focus on water quality issues, instead of other budgetary or administrative issues,” said Sullivan. “We’re pleased he will continue as a member of the GRDA team.”

For Fite, that means continuing on with the cause that first launched the OSRC nearly four decades ago.

“Preservation and protection of scenic rivers is a cause that has no end point,” he said. “There is no point at which Oklahomans may say our work is finished.”

While some aspects of the merger may move slowly, including any new fee structures, Sullivan said by the July 1 effective date, GRDA will be ready to fully assume its new responsibilities along the Illinois River.

“We look forward to welcoming our new team members and continuing our efforts to care for these important Oklahoma natural resources,” said Sullivan.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

 Since 2010, it has operated a state-of-the-art water quality research laboratory, inside its Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. Today, the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department continues to work with the public, other state and federal resource agencies, as well as agencies across a four-state area, to preserve and protect the waters of the Grand River watershed.