GRDA honored with Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award

Nov 03, 2022

The Grand River Dam Authority’s Guard the Grand Watershed Conservation Program, established in 2021 to help improve the Grand River Watershed’s water quality through science, education, and outreach, is the 2022 recipient of the National Hydropower Association (NHA) Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Award. GRDA received the award at NHA’s Clean Currents 2022 conference in California in late October.

GRDA won the OSAW award in the category of recreational, environmental & historical enhancement, which recognizes hydropower projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.

To address harmful algal blooms that have occurred on Grand Lake in recent years, GRDA, in cooperation with other resource agencies, is taking a more proactive approach by implementing a water quality modeling project. These efforts have helped to identify the nutrient sources contributing to those algal blooms. The Guard the Grand Program was developed to support this effort. One area of the program is the implementation of conservation easements that have proven to be the most cost-effective best management practices for improving water quality across multiple metrics.

To date, GRDA has enrolled 471 acres within the watershed into long-term, 30-year conservation easements. GRDA continues to enroll new easements and measure the environmental outcomes of these easements to help curtail the frequent formation of harmful algal blooms in Grand Lake.

“GRDA was created to be a conservation and reclamation district for the waters of the Grand River, and in recent years we have brought a new focus to conservation and restoration by focusing on innovative watershed approaches supporter by private landowners and producers,” said GRDA Vice President of Ecosystems and Watershed Management Dr. Darrell Townsend.

With these partnerships GRDA expects to impose long-term improvements in lake water quality. The cooperative efforts and support from local producers are setting the foundation for continued success that will positively impact water quality for future generations, added Townsend.

“NHA is thrilled to acknowledge GRDA’s impressive work with the OSAW Award in the category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement,” said LeRoy Coleman, Director of Communications, NHA. “GRDA’s commitment to improving water quality is commendable and shows that GRDA is an outstanding steward of their watershed and the environment.”

This is GRDA’s second OSAW award in four years. In 2018, GRDA’s Rush for Brush fisheries enhancement program was also an award recipient.

GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees, and efficiency.