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PHOTOS: Lake Murray still low due to extreme drought conditions

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ARDMORE, Okla. — One of our reporters took photos of just how bad the drought is still affecting parts of Oklahoma. Lake Murray’s water levels are way down and park authorities say it’s due simply to a lack of rain.

They are still in extreme drought conditions as they were last year. But, that has not caused the lake to close or the lodge to be affected.

There are a few boat ramps that are closed, but most are open. Lake officials say they just need rain.

Here are a few photos taken of the lake on September 5th, 2013:

Some visitors and residents have been concerned that the Lake Murray dam was leaking, but Tom Schlich of the Lake Murray Yatch Club explains that matter this way:

“With all man made lakes in Oklahoma, the Murray dam is designated OK10039. An earthen structure covered in rock, it is 74’ tall, and generates a water surface area of 5,728 acres when full to the spillway. The dam structure is defined by the north point of the spillway, to 3,200 feet south, forming the lake shore. The dam was completed in 1937, and stands 750’ above sea level.

The spillway is identified from the Lake by the void of trees and ground structure, where the Lake bottom steadily rises to a small concrete lip or base. From the road side, one will notice an obvious valley (or large drop) where the east side is very high, and the west reveals a rock lined river bed. Water has been present flowing over the road several times in the past 15 years. At least once in that time, the road was closed for hazardous water flow there, and some poor souls have even drowned attempting to “shoot the rapids”.

The capacity of the spillway design has proven adequate, but there was additional drainage capability included further south in the dam. The metal tower so prominent there, had gates to open into a large concrete pipe for more spill capacity if needed. West of the dam is a complex of concrete, designed to absorb the energy of rushing water, and manage its flow down stream where it would join the main spillage. The gates have long been stuck closed, and are not leaking.

That concrete pipe has another critical design function for drainage. The earthen dam structure requires hydration to remain structurally sound. Like a house foundation, the clay soil in the dam will shrink and crack, if not properly moistened. The flow of water will always take the path of least resistance, so the design was to channel the seepage into the large pipe to prevent dam erosion. That constant flow of clear water is evidence there is no soil eroding, and the dam is hydrated. In addition to an observation of steady clear drainage, the dam is on a five year inspection schedule to confirm its sound condition. Such an inspection was just recently completed, and it looks just as good as the last time.”

Lake Murray State Park is Oklahoma’s oldest and largest state park, located on the shores of beautiful Lake Murray. Fishing, boating and all water sports are found at Lake Murray. Lake Murray Lodge offers guest rooms and suites, cabins, meeting space,

The Apple Bin restaurant, and the Parlor. Other activities include golfing, picnics, camping, horseback riding, hayrides, hiking, biking, rollerblading, swimming, miniature golf and paddle boating. Sports facilities include an 18-hole golf course with a pro shop, tennis courts, softball fields, baseball diamond, horseshoe pits, badminton and volleyball nets.

Wonderful ATV area for 3/4 wheelers, motorcycles and dirt bikes. Other facilities found in the park include an airstrip, bait and tackle shop, marina with rentals, swimming pool with a changing house, swimming beach, riding stable, remote control air field for hobbyists, miniature golf course and Frisbee golf.

The Tucker Tower Nature Center features local artifacts, nature programs and activities conducted by the state park naturalist. Nine RV campgrounds with over 300 RV sites and unlimited tent sites throughout the park with full hookups, restrooms and showers.