Optima Lake and Dam
|Location||Texas County, Oklahoma|
|Basin countries||United States|
The earthen Optima Lake Dam (National ID # OK20510) was constructed in 1978 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, with a height of 120 feet, and a length at its crest of 16,875 feet. Although designed to contain a maximum of 618,500 acre-feet, the lake has never reached more than 5 percent of its design capacity, and now is effectively empty. Rapid declines in streamflow (related to large-scale pumping from the High Plains Aquifer) coincided with the completion of dam construction to make this lake a dramatic example of unanticipated environmental impacts.
The US Army Corps of Engineers states (emphasis added):
Visitors should be aware that the lake's level can be very low. Depending on rainfall and evaporation rates, the lake may offer no water-based recreation and may not be suitable for swimming, fishing, boating or other activities.
Lake camping facilities and buildings have been dismantled for public safety by the Corps of Engineers as of October 2012.
- Wahl, K & R. L. Tortorelli, 1996. "Changes in flow in the Beaver-North Canadian River Basin Upstream from Canton Lake, Western Oklahoma", USGS WRI 96-4304
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Optima Lake website
- R. Lowitt, 2002. "Optima Dam: A Failed Effort to Irrigate the Oklahoma Panhandle", Agricultural History, 76(2):260-72
- Oklahoma Water Resources Board Optima factsheet. The image on the first page shows the lake at its maximum level since dam construction
- 2006 Geological Society of America press release – Lessons to be learned from sites like Optima
- USGS online discharge data for inflow to reservoir (1937-1993)
- Optima Lake information on TravelOK.com Official travel and tourism website for the State of Oklahoma
- National Public Radio, 2013. "If You Want to Build a New Lake in Oklahoma, Forget History", NPR State Impact Oklahoma