The Norman Transcript


March 7, 2013

Private wells not a solution for Norman water shortage



OWRB regulates domestic well construction standards, including those governing location. When a hole is punched into the aquifer, any contamination can go down that hole and pollute the water in the aquifer. Because municipal wells draw from the aquifer, protecting against that pollution is important to protect water quality and public safety, Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.

OWRB requires wells be drilled at least 10 feet from sanitary sewer lines, 25 feet from above-ground sprinkler spray and 50 feet from an above-ground sprinkler head. Wells also must be 300 feet from a waste lagoon or feedlot.

Well surfaces must be cased to seal the pipes from possible contamination such as the high salt content found near oil wells, Walker said.

The widespread proliferation of private domestic wells could impact the aquifer, city leaders fear. That aquifer makes up about one third of Norman’s water supply — the portion that is obtained by the city’s wells.

“They think there’s around 70,000 domestic water wells in Oklahoma,” Walker said.

OWRB limits how many municipal and commercial wells can be drilled in the aquifer, but it does not limit domestic wells.

“In the long run, if we have tens of thousands of wells, it will affect us,” Komiske said.

City council members discussed requiring water meters on all new wells to monitor how much water is being used. Even though state law allows private wells, it limits how much water can be drawn from those wells annually. The law allows for 3 acre feet per year for domestic household wells and 5 acre feet per year for non-household domestic wells.

Komiske said, depending on the acreage in question, that’s not much water. Meters would help people realize how much water they are using.

City staff proposed the city’s permit fee be increased from $5 to $50. Other proposed code amendments for permit requirements include requirements that wells be constructed by OWRB certified drillers and that an OWRB Groundwater Well Completion Report be submitted to the city.

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