In response to recent public concerns regarding the elevation of Grand Lake, the Grand River Dam Authority wanted to take this opportunity to brief you on this issue.
The GRDA operation of Pensacola Dam not only provides low-cost, reliable electricity for thousands of Oklahomans but also helps provide the recreational opportunities of Grand Lake.
Yet in order to maintain this beneficial asset for the people of Oklahoma, GRDA must operate Pensacola Dam under the terms of a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Currently, GRDA operates the dam under a 30-year license issued by FERC in 1992.
In 1996, that license was amended to include a Grand Lake rule curve requirement. This rule curve outlines target elevations that GRDA must attempt to meet each day throughout the year.
These different elevations are intended to help facilitate boat traffic in the summer months, various wildlife habitat projects in the fall and fisheries and migratory waterfowl habitat in the winter and spring. While elevations are targets, the actual elevation of Grand Lake can fluctuate due to inflows into the Grand River system. The majority of the Grand River’s watershed consists of uncontrolled runoff in Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri.
Per rule curve requirements, Grand Lake is drawn down in mid August to reach an August 31 elevation of 741 feet, where it is held until mid October.
FERC staff has indicated to GRDA that any variances from the rule curve could constitute a violation of the project license.
To continue to provide low-cost electricity and recreational opportunities that benefit Oklahoma, and to maintain compliance with federal requirements, GRDA must meet this rule curve.
GRDA remains sensitive to lake level issues, as well as the many competing interests associated with lake levels. Balancing those interests, while maintaining compliance with its operating license is the goal.