Oklahoma Water Resources Center

2013 Funded Projects

2013 reports

Click on the title to view this year's project report.


Remote Sensing of Water Quality and Harmful Algae in Oklahoma Lakes
Principle Investigators:
K.D. Hambright, Xiangming Xiao, and Andrew R. Dzialowski

The many lakes (reservoirs) of Oklahoma provide rich fisheries, abundant recreational activities, and a general, high-value aesthetic quality to the state. Many large lakes, such as Texoma, Eufaula, and Grand Lakes also serve as critical economic engines for communities around those lakes. Agriculture and continued urban and rural development have generated excessive nutrient inputs to many of our lakes, leading to increased frequency and magnitude of harmful algal blooms (HABs), particularly of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Booms of cyanobacteria, which can produce a variety of harmful toxins including: hepatotoxins,neurotoxins, or dermatoxins that may be harmful or lethal to animals and humans, have been exacerbated by recent drought and heat conditions. In 2006, a pet died from cyanotoxin exposure in Lake Texoma and in 2012, two dogs died from exposure in Lake Ellsworth (Lawton) to cyanobacterial toxins. Many humans have experienced sub-lethal adverse acute effects from cyanobacteria, particularly in recent years, but we have little understanding of the consequences of chronic exposures. Fortunately, no human fatalities in Oklahoma have yet been linked to cyanobacteria.

Estimating Groundwater Recharge Using the Oklahoma Mesonet

[This project was funded in 2014 also. The final report is available here.]
Principle Investigators:
Tyson Ochsner, Chris Fiebrich, and Chris Neel

Oklahoma water resource managers need accurate information on groundwater recharge rates to allow more effective water management and planning and to reduce groundwater related conflicts, but no functional recharge monitoring network exists in Oklahoma, or anywhere else to our knowledge. The statewide Oklahoma Mesonet provides a uniquely rich set of long-term data on hydro-meteorological variables which are relevant for recharge estimation, most notably soil moisture. When soil moisture, hydraulic conductivity, and hydraulic gradient are known, drainage from the soil profile can be calculated based on unsaturated flow theory. Groundwater withdrawals that exceed the rate of drainage from the soil profile are not sustainable in the long term, unless the aquifer receives inflows from adjacent aquifers or surface water bodies.

Comparison of Grain Sorghum and Corn Productivity under Limited Irrigation with Subsurface Drip
[This project was funded in 2014 also. The final report is available here.]
Principle Investigators:
Jason G. Warren, Rick Kochenower, and Nicholas Kenny

This project focused on comparing the yield potential of corn and sorghum under a range of limited irrigation capacities. As well capacities decline it may be prudent to switch to alternative crops such as sorghum that require less in-season irrigation. It is well known that maximum sorghum yields can be achieved with less water than maximum corn yields. However, there is very little data available to determine the irrigation capacity at which it is economically advantageous to switch from growing corn to growing sorghum. The project was conducted at the Oklahoma State University Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Goodwell, OK. It utilized irrigation capacities from 6.4 GPM/acre to 0.8 GPM/acre. Corn yields were maximized with the 6.4 GPM/acre and as expected the profit was also maximized at this level of irrigation. Sorghum yields and profits were maximized at 4.8 GPM/acre. Data from this first year demonstrated that sorghum would become more profitable per acre at an irrigation capacity of 1.6 GPM/acre.

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