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May 1, 2014

City staff creating new bulk water charges

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Utilities Director Ken Komiske said the bulk water meter sales is not a large portion of Norman’s water sales and constitutes about 0.5 percent of total water produced in Norman.

“This is not a significant source of money, it’s more of a convenience to our customers,” Komiske said.

If a hydrant is not available and water must be trucked in, the trucks full of water are heavy and do a lot of damage to roads. Many big trucks traversing roads can be a safety issue, as well.

City council members also discussed whether it might be possible in some situations or in drought to sell bulk water from the city’s nonpotable wells. Two such wells are being used for nonpotable purposes such as street sweeping.

Other wells have been offline for years, and it would take a financial investment of $5,000 or more to get them up and running again. Users would still have to truck the water from the wells to their sites, but it might be an option to consider in drought situations.

City Manager Steve Lewis said once an increase in the rate is decided on, the city can give users 30 days’ notice and increase the bulk water charge in time for summer around the first of June.

Council members also discussed safety measures at oil and gas well sites, namely fencing to keep people — especially children and teenagers — from getting hurt at the rigs.

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said the older wells that are often grandfathered in should be given a grace period but should still have to comply with new safety standards when they are implemented.

Norman currently limits drilling to 10-acre parcels, which primarily keeps it in rural areas of the city. However, council members would like to enforce more standards and are looking at the Oklahoma City regulations in particular.

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