The Oklahomans who first envisioned the Grand River Dam Authority knew that abundant and reliable electricity and miles and miles of inviting shoreline could not happen without a commitment to first, and always, protect the water.

The legislation that first created GRDA, designated the Authority to be a “conservation and reclamation district for the waters of the Grand River.” This designation ensured that stewardship would always be part of the GRDA mission.

Today, GRDA stewardship efforts are broad and comprehensive. The GRDA Ecosystems & Watershed Management Department spearheads efforts to balance the needs of all lake users, including fish and waterfowl, while also working to protect and enhance ecosystems.

The department’s ongoing water quality monitoring program revolves around a state-of-the-art laboratory and an expert staff supplemented by intern assistance and partnerships with Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, Northeastern State University and Rogers State University. These partnerships have not only helped to equip the laboratory but also to keep it staffed.

Around the lake shores, GRDA works closely with other resource agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) and United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on habitat and wildlife efforts. Since the early 1990s, GRDA has helped protect the endangered Gray Bat which makes its home in caves in the Grand Lake region.

Meanwhile, the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center hosts hundreds of students—ranging from elementary school to college—annually for field trips and presentations about water quality and safety, hydroelectricity production, wildlife habitat and related topics.

“Our Borrowed Water” is a GRDA documentary detailing the importance of the Illinois and Grand River watersheds. Click here to watch the film on GRDA’s YouTube Channel.