The quality of the water in Lake Thunderbird is important to understand as it is critical to the water supply, recreational and fish and wildlife project purposes. Furthermore, Lake Thunderbird has a long history of water quality issues. It continues to be listed as impaired in the latest approved Oklahoma Integrated Water Quality Report (ODEQ) for the Public and Private Water Supply beneficial use due to high chlorophyll-a, and the Fish and Wildlife Propagation beneficial use due to low dissolved oxygen and increased turbidity. As such, COMCD has worked in partnership with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) for more than 20 years to provide water quality monitoring and analysis at the lake, creating a long term dataset to assist the COMCD and others in making lake management decisions.
Lake Thunderbird is monitored as a part of the OWRB’s Beneficial Use Monitoring Program (BUMP). Through BUMP the OWRB collects data on a quarterly basis utilizing a five-year rotation schedule. Data collections include a broad-base of chemical, physical, and biological parameters. Lake Thunderbird is sampled twice, in nonconsecutive years, during the 5-year period. Additionally, COMCD contracts with the OWRB to go above-and-beyond BUMP by having the lake sampled every year, typically 10 times during the months of April through October. Currently COMCD has requested a proposal from the OWRB to perform a trend analysis on the 20-year dataset to help better understand the lake’s water quality dynamics and help inform any future decisions about water quality improvement projects. Additionally, the OWRB will be conducting a study to better understand internal nutrient loading and the extent to which this contributes to high nutrient levels.
Research and Studies
COMCD has also sponsored research projects on the lake. Most recently a shoreline erosion/floating wetland project—funded in part by a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation—has supported graduate student research at the University of Oklahoma. Additionally, COMCD is proud to host OU’s Senior Capstone project in Civil Engineering and Environmental Science where students will be evaluating the lake’s monitoring dataset and evaluating potential watershed-level and in-lake solutions to drive water quality improvements.
The District recently contracted with the OWRB to perform an in-depth trends analysis on the 20+ year water quality dataset. The work will also include the development of trend data visualization tools that can be utilized by COMCD to aid in lake management decisions, and that can be used by the public to better understand lake water quality. Please see the link below for more information.
Lake Thunderbird watershed has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) developed for it. The TMDL was issued in 2013 by DEQ. It addresses both point source and nonpoint source discharges and establishes goals and guidelines to improve water quality.