Sanford Dam -- Lake Meredith, nr Fritch TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 35° 43.123 W 101° 33.327
14S E 268843 N 3955761
Quick Description: A long dam on a dry lake which has never fulfilled its purpose is worth visiting just to see usually hidden dam infrastructure and get a lesson on the need to conserve water.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 10/14/2014 9:01:49 AM
Waymark Code: WMMNE2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
No one comes to Lake Meredith for water sports or fishing. No one relies on the waters of Lake Meredith to slake this region's thirst for water. And no one thought when the dam was built in 1966 that the lake would never fill.

From the Amarillo Globe News: (visit link)

Studies: Impossible for lake to ever reach 1966 expectations

Posted: November 5, 2011 - 8:59pm
By Kevin Welch

In 1966 workers finished a wall across the Canadian River more than a mile long, 228 feet high and 1,900 feet thick at its base with the promise of storing 41 billion gallons of water per year for cities in the Texas Panhandle.

It hasn’t happened, and two new studies says it can’t.

“There were good reasons people thought it was possible,” said David Brauer, leader of a U.S. Department of Agriculture research team that is about to publish the studies on in the Canadian River Watershed that feeds Lake Meredith. “They were looking at a database that included inflows that will probably never happen again. In the early forties, north of town there were flows that were records.”

In its fourth-highest crest, the Canadian was 15.7 feet deep north of Amarillo in 1941, according to U.S. Geological Service data.

“There were huge floods that would have filled up Lake Meredith several times over,” said John Williams, the water authority’s general manager from 1968 to 2001 and now a private adviser for it.

But that’s almost ancient history.

Scientists are floating new theories on Lake Meredith’s chances of turning back into its pre-dam self — the Canadian River Valley — where the olive green of vegetation follows the retreating muddy-red waterline.

Meredith is the last of four dams on the Canadian in the region. In New Mexico, there’s Eagle Nest Lake, then Conchas Lake and finally Ute Lake near the state line north of Tucumcari. Like Meredith, all three are low due to several years of reduced rain and snowfall. The dam to create Ute starting catching water in 1964 before Sanford Dam began holding water for Meredith in 1965.

“We knew New Mexico was going to build Ute Lake, and they included that in the planning,” Williams said.

Research agronomist Brauer’s study, done with federal researchers Louis Baumhardt, Dennis Gitz, Prasanna Gowda and James Mahan, said river flow and precipitation measurements in the years since 1964 indicate there is only a 25 percent chance of enough water moving down the river to allow the water authority to return to pumping what it did from Meredith in the late 1990s. But that would have to happen consistently.

“There is no evidence that previous water allotments from Lake Meredith could be reinstituted in a sustainable form in the future,” the study said.

And since the Canadian River Compact signed by representatives of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma allows Ute Lake to hold up to 200,000 acre-feet of water before it must release some to the river, there is little chance of that contributing to Meredith, especially if the plan to send water to Clovis, Portales and Tucumcari happens. An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

“From a historical perspective, the prospect of increased flows from Ute Lake to Meredith is rather bleak ... in 29 of the previous 45 years flows out of Ute Lake have been effectively zero,” the study said.

And until the area gets out of its record-breaking drought, the cities of the water authority will depend on groundwater, whether it’s from their own wells or the three phases of the authority’s John C. Williams Wellfield in Roberts County.

“We built the first (phase) as a supplement because the lake never supplied as much as it was supposed to, and the water quality was so poor,” said Williams, for whom the well field is named.

There is talk of getting more water from the well field because the member cities will have to produce their own water to make up for what the authority can’t produce.

“One hundred twenty-six thousand acre-feet was the original plan, but we never delivered that,” Satterwhite said. “They’re using their own water to make up for it and would probably like to save some of that.”

It would take millions of dollars in additional pipeline to upgrade the system either near Fritch or Amarillo, where larger lines exist to handle the load.

Total demand for water in the cities peaked about 12 years ago at 130,000 acre-feet, up from 75,000 in the mid-60s, and has dropped to around 110,000 over the last few years as conservation and growth create an ebb and flow.

“We hope to push additional conservation,” said C.E. Williams, general manager of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District. “In fact, 23 percent of the state’s ‘new’ water is supposed to come from conservation. We have to get serious.”

In the meantime, the declining levels at Lake Meredith will continue to affect the broader area.

“In the regional water plan, we cut back the supply last year. We didn’t take it to zero, which it looks like we might have to do this year,” Williams said. “There’ll be a lot more groundwater pumpage and the high decline areas will just come more quickly.”

And if the heat and drought return for another summer stay, there will more of something else.

“There will be a lot of water rationing,” Williams said. “More than this year [2011 -- BMB].”

It has been 50 years since Sanford Dam started catching water for Lake Meredith. The lake has never filled, and probably will never fill. The reality of that scarcity of water is not just being felt here in the Canadian River valley, but around the world -- you can just see it better here.

The historic high for Lake Meredith's lake level was reached in [year] when the lake was % full.

On 13 Oct 2014, Lake Meredith is only 5.2% full -- just .2% out of its "dead pool." For most of the last three years the lake was well into its dead pool, meaning that it was 0% full. As in Z-E-R-O. Source: (visit link)

Lake Meredith reached a historic high level in April of 1973, when it was 101.53 feet deep, still not even one-third full. Source: (visit link)
Waterway where the dam is located: Canadian River

Main use of the Water Dam: Water Supply (Drinkable)

Material used in the structure: embankment

Height of Dam: 228

Date built: 1/1/1965

Fishing Allowed: yes

Motor Sports Allowed: yes

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Benchmark Blasterz visited Sanford Dam -- Lake Meredith, nr Fritch TX 10/20/2014 Benchmark Blasterz visited it