The Norman Transcript

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February 2, 2013

Drought raises well water quality concerns

NORMAN — Drought has been a big part of our state since we became one. With the ongoing drought I have been receiving calls regarding water wells for drinking and irrigation. Residents have been asking how fluctuating water tables and low or dry creeks, rivers and lakes, will affect water quantity in their wells.

The concern over water is fairly new to most people because during the last 30 wet years it was rarely a topic of discussion. When people overused water, their view was never that they were “wasting” since after all, it was so abundant at the time. 2011 and 2012 changed all that and now it’s not just farmers and ranchers concerned about conserving water.    

While residents on the city water system are forced to use less water, rural residents, farmers and ranchers who use water wells for drinking, irrigation and livestock water do not typically fall under these mandates. Does this mean they should continue with business as usual and waste water?

No. In fact, during times when water supplies are dangerously low, everyone should take initiative and do their part to conserve.

This exceptional drought has impacted groundwater levels in many areas of our state and some residents who use water wells are concerned.

Groundwater, which is found in aquifers below the ground, is one of our most important natural resources. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, groundwater is the source of about 38 percent of the water that county and city water departments supply to households and businesses (public supply). It also provides drinking water for more than 97 percent of rural populations who cannot access water from a county/city water department or rural water district. With so many people relying on groundwater for drinking and irrigation, you can imagine what a strain this can place on supplies during droughts.

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