The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 19, 2013

Drought shapes policies

NORMAN — In water policy discussions, city council members and city staff often say Norman needs to decide if it wants to be water customer or a water provider. An answer to that question is a significant part of the long-range water discussions now under way.

The years-long drought has put a sense of urgency in the current policy debate. Rationing imposed this past week may be earliest ever for Norman. Federal legislation that allows water to be transferred to Lake Thunderbird from southeastern Oklahoma has recently made headlines.

Oklahoma City’s decision to restrict watering and water sales will impact Norman which bought more than 160 million gallons — less than two weeks supply — in fiscal 2012.

The water restrictions come as Norman’s homebuilding industry begins a rebound from some troubled years. Permits for single-family homes are up. There were 374 permits issued in 2012 compared to 315 in 2011. Multi-family is up, too, with a couple of larger projects under way and in planning stages.

City officials can’t tell whether the restrictions are helping. Water use was an average of 8.4 million gallons per day this week compared to 8.8 MGD for the same period in 2011.

Norman citizens have shown they will respond for the greater good. Time and a rainy spring will tell if the rules are working.

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