The Norman Transcript

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April 24, 2013

Water fund shortages plague Norman

NORMAN — Norman’s water production tops 4.5 billion gallons annually. That water moves through 570 miles of pipes and production runs 24 hours a day yearround.

Water shortages have been a primary topic of discussion because of the drought and low lake levels, but the lake’s level isn’t the only pool that’s decreasing. The city’s water fund pool is down, as well.

When Norman’s water, sewer and sanitation are combined, Norman has the lowest rates of any of several comparative cities.

“We’re in crisis mode,” said Council member Jim Griffith, adding that the city needs voters to approve rate increases for the services.

He also said a charter change to allow for some limited cost of living increases might be in order, too.

Water was a major topic at Tuesday’s city budget discussions, with water and funding shortages creating future challenges.

Fiscal Year 2014 water user fee revenues will fall $725,788 short of creating the targeted operating reserve. Like the general fund, the water funds operating reserve is being drawn down a little each year.

The Norman City Council discussed the city’s enterprise funds Tuesday at the non-voting study session preceding the full city council meeting. Enterprise funds include water, sanitation (trash) and water reclamation (sewer).  

Emergency water purchases from Oklahoma City are budgeted at $400,000. That number could go up or down, based on how hot and dry it gets this summer.

The city anticipates purchasing $1,296,002 worth of raw water from the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, the entity that manages Lake Thunderbird. This includes any water purchased as part of Del City’s allotment sale to Norman.

The FY 2014 budget also includes $429,700 for fleet-related replacement purchases.

Major water projects coming up include the Robinson Water line replacement under Interstate 35, which is budgeted at $2,297,600 for FY 2014 and $754,400 for FY 2015. A waterline relocation along State Highway 9, Chautauqua, Imhoff, Berry and Lindsey to Briggs would cost just more than $3 million.

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