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January 1, 2013

City asked to reduce its Thunderbird dependence

NORMAN — Despite legislation moving forward to allow augmentation of Lake Thunderbird during drought, Norman residents could face mandatory water conservation measures in the near future.

Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District General Manager Randy Worden recently told Norman city leaders that its three municipal water customers — Midwest City, Del City and Norman — would be asked to reduce usage of the lake water supply by 10 percent.

Those letters arrived in city offices Monday.

“Reducing consumption is critical to sustaining the lake through an extended drought,” Worden wrote. “Therefore, effective January 1st, the District is imposing a 10 percent reduction of each city’s allocation. Further reductions may be forthcoming in the next several months depending on the rainfall that is received and declining lake elevations.”

“We’re actually ahead of the curve,” Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said. “We have been educating our customers on water conservation for the past several years. We’ll have to look at our conservation plan and see if we need to import language to add more mandatory conservation issues based on COMCD’s requirements.”

Water in winter is not the issue, but the city will need to prepare for spring and the possibility of mandatory water conservation.

“We’ll probably update our water conservation plan and include triggers tied to COMCD’s allocation,” Komiske said. “They’re imposing a 10 percent reduction in each city’s allocation.”

Komiske said December’s average water use was 9.5 million gallons of water a day. But in the summer, the city exceeds 22 million gallons a day.

Providing the President signs the Thunderbird water bill, it’s passage will allow COMCD to explore outside water options to boost lake levels.

“That’s good news, it allows importation of non-basin water,” Komiske said. “It’s a really, really good step, but the next piece of the puzzle is going to be very expensive.”

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