The Norman Transcript

Opinion

October 16, 2013

Testing the waters?

NORMAN — If and when the state of Oklahoma approves regulations for water reuse, Norman could be the state’s first community to test the waters, so to speak.

City officials say the water reclamation facility improvements that voters are being asked to pay for with a rate increase will get us that much closer to water reuse.

The idea is that fully treated wastewater from the existing south plant or future northside treatment plant could be piped back into Lake Thunderbird.

Currently, the treated wastewater is discharged into the Canadian River. Several states, not including Oklahoma, have allowed treated water to be repurposed for years.

State lawmakers pushing the issue say the holdup is a regulatory matter with the Deparment of Environmental Quality. Utilities Director Ken Komiske reminded the board that water has no memory and all water is repurposed.

The board voted unamimously to endorse the Nov. 12 vote. If approved by voters, household base rates will increase from $3.90 to $5 and the user rate would increase from $1.60 to $2.70 for every 1,000 gallons of water used, based on December, January and February meter readings.

City officials estimate that the average sewer rate will go up $3.74 per month, and business rates will rise an average of $7.39 per month. If approved, it will be the first sewer rate increase since 1996.

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