The Norman Transcript


February 27, 2013

Protecting Norman’s water supply



The Department of Agriculture regulates fertilizer and notified city staff that state law prohibits the city regulating fertilizer for agricultural use. Because of that limitation, agricultural use has been exempted in the ordinance.

The current drought and low water levels of Lake Thunderbird prompted the city council to amend the Water Conservation Plan.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had to go into mandatory water conservation in the winter,” Utilities Director Ken Komiske said. “This is a problem with our supply side, not our demand side.”

In the past, the city mandated water conservation when demand exceeded the capacity to process water during the summer.

Under the newly adopted amendments, the city manager can implement Stage 2 mandatory water conservation, which includes even-odd watering, if the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District requests a 10 percent reduction in Norman’s allocation from Lake Thunderbird or if the lake drops to a level of 1,032 or below.

The current lake level as of Tuesday evening was 1,031.78 feet.

Currently, Norman is under the 10 percent reduction and has implemented Stage 2 mandatory conservation.

Stage 3 mandatory conservation limits watering to one day a week. New triggers include further reduction of the lake allocation or a lake level of 1,029 feet or below.

“It pins it to lake levels and it pins it to COMCD asking us to reduce our usage,” Komiske said.

COMCD has notified the city that a further reduction would be coming if the lake level gets below 1,030 feet.

“Yesterday, we had over an inch-and-a-half of rain, which was very welcome,” Komiske said. “But we have to look at the rain over the whole year.”

Jeanette Coker asked if the lake could be dredged.

Komiske said lakes are built with a 100-year life and is expected to silt in.

“Right now, it is at about half of its expected life,” Komiske said. “A number of engineering firms have looked at dredging lakes.”

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