The Norman Transcript


May 1, 2013

Protecting wells is no easy task



Meanwhile, Norman is working on updating its water well permitting requirements. While the Oklahoma Water Resources Board regulates groundwater use and issues permits for most wells, cities also are allowed to regulate and permit domestic and industrial wells.

State law limits how much water can be used and the purpose of those uses but does protect the water rights of property owners.

Norman city leaders are concerned that a potential increase in domestic wells in response to the drought could deplete or reduce the water in the aquifer, impacting the water available to the city’s water wells. They also are concerned about contamination of the aquifer.

Proposed city code amendments include:

· Increasing the permit fee from $5 to $50 to cover city costs.

· Updating regulations to come into compliance with state law.

· Using state definitions for domestic and industrial use.

· Adding requirements to protect water supply.

· Monitoring usage through water meters.

“My biggest concern about all this is contaminating the aquifer,” council member Jim Griffith said.

Harrington said how deep a well must go to hit the Garber-Wellington aquifer varies.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we protect the Garber-Wellington for uses other than drinking,” attorney Harold Heiple said .

He suggested that if a homeowner or entity is hooked up to city water, they should be prohibited from drilling into the aquifer.

Heiple said an HOA representative from Cascade had been told by a driller that he would need to go down 600 feet but the OWRB said the HOA would likely hit good irrigation water around 200 feet — protecting the aquifer and saving the HOA a large amount of money.

Assistant city attorney Kathryn Walker said she is unsure, under current state law, if the city can limit the depth a property owner can drill.

Heiple said when an HOA starts using rights of way and going under city streets to provide water for a swimming pool and irrigation, it is becoming a utility.

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