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Drought makes few inroads on Tom Steed

Despite the recent re-emergence of drought in Southwest Oklahoma, one area reservoir is still nearly 100 percent full of water  a dramatic contrast with three years ago when a prolonged drought of several years had reduced that reservoir's water level to a mere fraction of its capacity and dangerously low levels.

Tom Steed Reservoir near Mountain Park in Kiowa County was 99.87 percent full as of Monday. The reservoir had 97,198 acre-feet of water and an elevation of 1,410.98 feet. On Jan. 29, 2015, the lake was only 22 percent full and had about 21,979 acre-feet of water with an elevation of 1,395.04 feet. The lake had reached a low of under 20 percent a short time later just before a series of torrential rains hit the area that spring.

Projects made reservoir more "drought resistant"

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, said the current conditions at the lake are the result of lessons learned from the drought and projects undertaken to better protect the reservoir from the severe effects of future droughts.

"We learned a lot from that drought and implemented changes we needed to make," he said.

Among the projects was a redevelopment of a diversion previously designed for floods to now accept low flows of water out of Elk Creek to offset evaporation caused dry conditions. The district, with funding from a $300,000 Bureau of Reclamation grant, also undertook a well field project to seek alternative water sources to keep the lake full.

The Lawton Constitution

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