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March 7, 2013

Private wells not a solution for Norman water shortage

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Drilling a well can be a complicated and expensive process.

“It’s not as easy as laying pipe along the street,” Komiske said.

Depth determines the cost.

“Just a small well might cost you $45,000, and that just gets you to the surface,” Komiske said. “You’re not promised to get water. Just because you put a hole in the ground doesn’t mean you’ll get water.”

In east Norman, a well may cost around $6,500 because the well can be about 100 feet deep versus a 650-feet deep well in west Norman with a cost around $45,000. And that cost doesn’t include above-ground issues such as pumps and piping to get the water where you need it to be, Komiske said.

Private wells are in demand because of the drought.

“Water well diggers already have a three-month backlog,” Council member Tom Kovach said.

Kovach said the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments has been dealing with concerns about pollution resulting from contamination of the aquifer via private wells.

“Water quality is important, so we want to make sure we have requirements to protect the quality, not just the quantity,” Council member Robert Castleberry said.

While water wells are not subject to mandatory conservation implemented by the city, those wells affect the water supply.

“Private or public, we have to have limits,” Council member Roger Gallagher said.

Council members agreed that the city must control water sources to maintain “water independence.”

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal suggested cross training city employees to better recognize water use violations and to warn and educate people.

The full city council will consider amendments to the well permitting ordinance soon.

 

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