The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 15, 2013

Early water rationing may be new normal

NORMAN — The mandatory water conservation measures instituted by the city manager this past week may be the earliest rationing has ever been put in place here. Steve Lewis said it resembled Norman’s drought of the 1950s.

After that dry period, Norman looked to the future and partnered with other cities and the federal government to build Lake Thunderbird, which now supplies about two-thirds of our water needs.

Now, the city may be positioned to begin buying raw water from Oklahoma City’s supply in southeastern Oklahoma as it studies future water needs.

On a dry, winter day, water customers are using less than nine million gallons per day. Few are purposely running yard sprinklers. In summer months, that will easily exceed 20 million gallons, forcing the city to buy treated water from Oklahoma City through a connection in northwest Norman.

The new restrictions won’t likely make much of a dent in the limited daily use this time of year. The mayor and city manager are offering some common-sense suggestions, such as turning the water off while brushing your teeth and shaving, taking shorter showers and not running dishwashers and washing machines unless there is a full load.

The rules are similar to those put in place this past summer: odd-even watering and no watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. There is no watering on Wednesday and Thursdays. The city has limited its own water use.

Shutting off automatic yard sprinklers at homes and businesses should be common sense this time of year, but it’s surprising the number that we see running.

The long-term forecast for spring rain doesn’t look good. The manager’s decision may be an early warning to get customers ready for several years of limited water use.

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