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March 18, 2014

Oklahoma Senate passes water reuse legislation

NORMAN — A portion of Norman’s wastewater could be shifted from the Canadian River to a tributary that feeds Lake Thunderbird in the not-so-distant future.

Recently, legislation encouraging reuse and requiring the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to respond promptly to reuse applications was passed unanimously by the Oklahoma Senate.

Senate Bill 1187, authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, establishes state policy to facilitate water reuse projects and establishes permitting requirements.

“Conservation and reuse can help us make more efficient use of one of our most important natural resources,” said Standridge, R-Norman. “Projects like this will also enable important upgrades to our water infrastructure and expand our supply of safe, local water. This will allow for continued growth and development for our regional economies and help secure our water needs for future generations.”

Norman is at the forefront of municipalities that have shown an interest in reuse as a means of reclaiming water to augment lakes that serve as water sources.

“It’s good to have this legislation introduced and create dialogue between the regulatory agencies and the cities that need reuse,” Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said. “We’re very encouraged by the new leadership at DEQ and we’re excited about working with them on this issue.”

The Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District that manages Thunderbird for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested reclaimed water from Norman’s sanitary sewer system to augment the lake.

The water would be treated to a higher level than it is currently treated prior to discharge because of the shorter distance from possible discharge points to the lake.

Currently, Norman’s reclaimed wastewater is discharged into the Canadian River and eventually feeds into Lake Eufaula, which serves as that city’s water supply. As the water makes its way downstream, nature finishes the cleaning process that’s started at Norman’s Water Reclamation plant.

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