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June 20, 2014

Norman City Council weighs four options regarding storm water utility structure

NORMAN — The city of Norman had a public meeting Thursday to discuss a Storm Water Master Plan and storm water utility rates with the public.

The city has been discussing storm water issues since 2006 and adopted a master plan in 2011 to get the ball rolling, but a final rate structure or method of allocation has not yet been determined, Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said Thursday.

The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback and work on putting together something to address increasing demands on the city with respect to water quality, infrastructure, remediation or problems in the current system.

“There are probably no issues more important in the city of Norman right now than those that are related to water,” Rosenthal said. “We have been discussing issues related to storm water, which relate primarily to water quality and the protection to Lake Thunderbird as our primary drinking source in the city of Norman.”

Director of Public Works Shawn O’Leary said 70 percent of the city’s water supply comes from Lake Thunderbird, which consists of storm water from Norman, Moore and Oklahoma City.

While storm water is the single-most important solution to drinking water across the United States, Norman is already late to the game in adopting a storm water utility, Rosenthal said.

“Most of the cities across the country have a storm water utility, which provides a dependable, reliable, steady source of revenue to deal with the issues related to storm water,” she said.

Four rate structures were presented at the Thursday night meeting, including Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs), flat rates, water meter size and Residential Equivalent Factors.

While the most common rate in the Oklahoma City and metro area was based on water meter size, O’Leary said it is also the least equitable, and Oklahoma City has had problems with underfunding because of using that kind of rate. Statistics also show less that than 1 percent of utilities nationally are billed in that manner.

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