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February 19, 2013

Del City could provide oasis in drought

NORMAN — Norman could dilute potential water problems if the Norman City Council approves a proposed five-year contract for up to 300 million gallons annually of Del City’s Lake Thunderbird allotment. A draft of the proposed contract comes before the city council in a non-voting study session today.

Norman began discussions with Del City and with the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, which manages the lake in September. By January, the matter had become crucial as COMCD asked the cities it supplies — Norman, Midwest City and Del City — to reduce their lake allotments by 10 percent.

Norman almost immediately instituted mandatory water conservation.

Del City relies most heavily on its wells for water. Norman, on the other hand, gets two-thirds of its water from Thunderbird. While a contract for a portion of Del City’s Thunderbird allotment will not solve all of Norman’s concerns about the summer’s water supply, it would help alleviate the effects of the 10 percent allotment reduction.

COMCD Executive Director Randy Worden said his board “directed him to help facilitate a contract between Norman and Del City,” according to city staff reports.

The proposed contract would start in May and run for five years with the potential for renewal of another five years.

COMCD set the price for surplus untreated water at 33 cents per 1,000 gallons for this year and that is the rate in the contract with Del City.

Norman will be able to draw up to 300 million gallons each year, but that could increase to 500 million gallons if both cities agree.

Under the proposed contract, if Del City implements rationing or loses four or more of its functioning water wells, Norman’s draw of Del City water would be affected.

While this agreement would secure Norman’s water supply at a fixed rate for future planning purposes, the greatest impact would be the insurance this extra water allows, should Norman’s allotment from Lake Thunderbird be further reduced.

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