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January 14, 2013

Planning for Norman’s future water supply

NORMAN — The Norman Strategic Water Supply ad hoc committee is looking for long-term solutions for the city’s water needs. The committee is working with Carollo Engineers Inc. to prepare the 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan.

Carollo was hired to prepare the study because the current yield of the lake could be reduced, as could the yield allowed from the aquifer. Meanwhile, Norman’s population continues to grow.

Recently, the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, which manages the lake, asked Norman, Del City and Midwest City to reduce their allocations of lake water by 10 percent because of low lake levels resulting from long-term drought. About two-third of Norman’s city water supply comes from Lake Thunderbird. A smaller portion comes from wells. In emergencies, water is purchased from Oklahoma City.

Some relief is in sight. The recent passage of the Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act of 2012 will allow COMCD to negotiate for outside water sources to augment the lake’s dwindling conservation pool during drought emergencies.

The most likely and least expensive option will be a direct link to the Oklahoma City’s Atoka water line. Buying raw water from OKC is perhaps the least expensive solution for augmenting Lake Thunderbird and for solving the city of Norman’s water woes.

But city leaders and other stakeholders say there is no single solution to Norman’s long-term water future.

In addition, negotiating a contract with OKC could take time.

In fact, today, Stage 2 Mandatory Water Conservation for the city is being implemented. That means outside watering will be limited to even-odd days, with even-numbered addresses watering only on even-numbered calendar days and odd-numbered address watering on odd-numbered calendar days.

All outside watering, with the exception of hand-held water, is prohibited on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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