Carollo estimates a cost (measured in year 2012 dollars) of $340 million for capital investment and $23 million per year in operation and maintenance.
Portfolio 14 is slightly less costly, requiring an investment of $270 million over time with an annual operation and maintenance cost of $22 million.
Portfolio 14 would develop new groundwater wells and would augment Lake Thunderbird through reuse of Norman’s reclaimed water. The water that currently goes down Norman’s drains would be recycled, receiving a higher level of treatment at the water reclamation facility (once known as the sewer or wastewater plant) and then discharged into Blue Creek, a tributary that leads to Lake Thunderbird.
Nature provides part of the filtering and cleaning process in this type of augmentation known as “indirect potable reuse.” Edmond is also considering IPR in its future supply analysis.
Direct potable reuse may also be available through technology in the future and could eventually be an option. Wastewater is treated to a level that is safe for drinking.
Senate Bill 1187 was recently passed and requires the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to review and evaluate reuse applications in a timely manner. The bill also allows for approval of reused discharges into sensitive water supplies such as Lake Thunderbird, as long as those discharges do not create more pollution in the water body.
The path forward: Norman will soon make a choice between Portfolio 13 and 14 — essentially a choice between partnership with Oklahoma City or moving toward a sustainable water supply through reuse.
There could be some partnership opportunities in the future with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, as well. Some eastside residents say the tribe wants to sell water to residents on the East side of Norman.
What the 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan does not deal with is what happens to Lake Thunderbird past 2060. The lake is slowly silting in — a natural and expected process. By 2060, it will be nearing the end of its 100-year life. Augmenting the lake does not change that pattern.
Options could include raising the dam, dredging the lake or building a new reservoir. “We’ll have some tough decisions to make then,” Rehring said.
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