The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 23, 2014

Cities and towns should have water reuse option

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s future water needs are top of mind for most elected and appointed leaders.

Dropping water levels in municipal reservoirs, long-term drought and commercial water sales continue to be discussed. Water reuse is beginning to receive some interest by communities, including Norman.

Legislation that sets policy to facility water reuse projects, including permitting requirements, has faced some opposition from state agencies and some lawmakers. Now, a bill has advanced through both houses of the Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.

Sponsors include state Sen. Rob Standridge and state Rep. Scott Martin, both Norman Republicans.

“In most cases, water reuse is more affordable than the construction of new pipelines or a reservoir, and the technology has proven to be safe, effective and reliable,” said Standridge. “For a number of growing municipalities, reuse may be the best option to expand the supply of drinking water. This legislation will support and enable water districts and municipalities to move ahead with water reuse projects.”

Under the measure, the Department of Environmental Quality will be required to issue approval or disapproval of water reuse project applications.

Norman voters recently approved improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant that will hasten water reuse. Supporters say the treated water that is now discharged into the Canadian River could safely be pumped back into Lake Thunderbird.

Drought-parched Wichita Falls, a city similar in population to Norman, is one of the latest U.S. municipalities that are beginning to embrace water reuse.

The water is still being tested, but in 2013, Wichita Falls built a 63,000-foot pipeline from the wastewater treatment plant to the water treatment plant. It will carry 5 million gallons of disinfected water a day that will be treated, tested and redistributed.

The water from the treatment plant is treated through microfiltration and reverse osmosis and is released into a holding lagoon. It is then blended with lake water on a 50/50 basis. The blended water then goes through the conventional treatment process.

We urge Gov. Mary Fallin to sign Senate Bill 1187 and allow Oklahoma communities to add water reuse as an option in their long-term water planning.

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