On October 11, 2012, Hugo Lake hit a record low level of 398.45.
The previous low lake elevation of 398.46 was recorded in November 1978.
The new record low didn’t last 34 years. In fact, it was broken on midnight, Oct. 14, when the elevation reached 398.36.
The staff at Hugo Lake has faced a variety of problems due to the extended drought. This year, the maintenance crew had to cut down about 100 trees before they could open the parks for the recreation season. The cracked ground in the park areas caused burst water lines and electrical problems.
Most of the boat ramps are not usable, and boating is very difficult. Another problem that occurs with low lake levels involves artifact hunters who seize the opportunity to search newly exposed areas. Kent Grimes, lake manager, says the ranger staff and environmental specialist have been monitoring these hunters and have caught a couple.
Searching for a silver lining, Grimes says it’s not all bad news, “We did take advantage of the low lake levels by having the Rattan Landing boat ramps dredged by contract, repositioning 90 percent of the buoys on the lake, and removing old tires from the shoreline. We also purchased new buoys for a couple of the swimming beaches and have completely re-done one beach.”
Hugo Lake is just one of many Tulsa District lakes suffering from the area’s prolonged drought. The Corps cautions swimmers and boaters to watch for hazards, such as trees or rocks, which may be exposed or closer to the water surface due to lower lake levels.
With waters lower than the traditional pools at most USACE lakes, it is even more imperative that visitors do not jump or dive into the water and to always wear a life jacket when recreating in or near the water.
Even during low water conditions, the Corps cautions people to stay off of exposed sandbars. Sandbars are not solid ground and can collapse under the weight of a person.