By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Cleveland County commissioners denied a request by Cleveland County Rural Water District 1 to waive a survey that would identify rights of way and boundaries.
The 2-1 vote came at Monday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. Chair Rod Cleveland was the lone vote in support of the request. The rural water district asked to use GPS coordinates to make rights of way and boundary identifications.
“We desperately need a water system in southern Cleveland County, and I fully support having a rural water district,” District 3 County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said. “I want them to have it, but I want it to be done correctly.”
The rural water district wants to drill a well on property owned by the Department of Corrections on land that is part of the Lexington prison complex. The rural water district would serve the prison, southern Cleveland County and the town of Lexington.
“If they make a mistake, and it’s a big mistake, who would clean it up?” Sullivan said.
Richard Murnan, vice chair of the Rural Water Board, said the target for the completed system to be providing water to customers is April 2014.
“We are going to put down test holes, and those will tell us how far we’re going to have to go,” Murnan said. “My guess is somewhere around 400 feet.”
The Rural Water Board is in the process of applying for state approval to drill the well into the Garber-Wellington aquifer.
“We found out that the properties that the state manages goes under different rules,” Murnan said. “We have been working with the Department of Corrections. Sen. (John) Sparks is helping us get all the details worked out with that group.”
“There is a legitimate analysis that has to be done regarding the use of the raw water from the Department of Corrections property,” said Sparks, D-Norman. “And there is a question about the length of term that the state can contract. There is a precedent because the city of Purcell obtains its raw water from wells on the wildlife management area east of Slaughterville.”
Sparks said the area covering the rural water district is in a tough position.
“People are hesitant to build homes in the area because there is not a good water supply,” Sparks said. “At the same time, it’s difficult for them (the rural water district) to get the necessary number of users to buy the water to fund the rural water district’s initial capital investment.”
Homebuilders aren’t the only people who need the rural water supply. The DOC has two big prisons that are maxed out on their populations with aging infrastructure, Sparks said.
“There doesn’t seem to be extra money laying around the capital to invest in water infrastructure for the prisons,” Sparks said.
The rural water district would invest in infrastructure, treat the raw water and sell some of the treated water back to the Department of Corrections as needed.
“There are countless other issues that go into this project,” Sparks said. “One of the things I’ve made clear to the Department of Corrections from the beginning, is that I’ve only wanted to pursue this option if it is objectively a good deal for the Department of Corrections.”
Sparks said DOC has many budget demands, and his goal is to benefit DOC facilities east of Lexington as well as Oklahoma residents the water district would serve.
“I have a contract with the city of Lexington to provide them water,” Murnan said.
Lexington would purchase at least 23 percent of its water supply from the rural water district under the agreement.
“That’s the minimum that we need them to take,” Murnan said.
The city of Lexington currently buys water from Purcell. It uses 104 million gallons of water annually in a normal year. Some private, non-commercial users will be members of the rural water district as well. When the project started around a decade ago, people could sign up for $600, Murnan said. Now the cost is $2,500.
“We’ve got the funding,” Murnan said. “We’ve got grants.”
But some of those grants are on tight deadlines and the rural water district could lose a portion of its funding if the project does not move ahead on schedule.
In other county business, commissioners awarded a lawn care contract for Health Department, 424 S. Easten in Moore and 250 12th Ave. NE in Norman, to low bidder A-MAYS-ING Lawns for $20 per hour. Also bidding was Shawn/Scott Lawn Solutions LLC.
County commissioners approved the following blanket purchase orders:
· District 1 — Copelin’s Office Center $1,200, Dave’s Small Engine Repair Inc. $1,000, Splash Sales LLC $2,000
· District 2 — Haskell Lemons Construction Co $23,125, Comdata Corporation $1,000, New Pig Corporation $750, P&K Equipment Inc. $1,700, Fleet Pride $1,700
· Assessor’s Office — CDW Government LLC $1,600
· County Clerk’s Office — Norman Stamp & Seal Co. $4,000, Copelin’s Office Center $1,000
· Fair Board – AT&T Mobility $300
· Sheriff’s Office — Security Bankcard Center $2,000, Don’s Mobil Lock Shop Inc. $150, United Refrigeration Inc. $300
Commissioners also approved the following purchase orders: General Fund $58,003, Highway Fund $54,760, Health Fund $362,641, Sheriff Service Fee Fund $26,980, Sheriff Commissary Fund $4,131, Sheriff Jail Fund $36, Sheriff Property Forfeiture Fund $1,008, Sheriff Revolving Fund $25,218, SCA 2010 Grant Fund $$122, Treasurer Certification Fee Fund $12, STOP Violence Against Women Fund $2,706, County Clerk Preservation Fund $157,662, Fair Board Fund $2,782, and FY 2011-12 General Fund $534.
Commissioners also approved a $40,048 allocation of Alcoholic Beverage Tax.
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.