The joke around Norman's City Hall is that every time someone starts talking about implementing water rationing, the skies open up and the rains come. Our headline story about water rationing worries Wednesday wasn't very believable when nearly an inch of rain fell in some parts of Norman beginning about noon Wednesday.

As this editorial is being written, thunder can be heard throughout the county and clouds are dumping heavy rains downtown.

Although we can't expect that pattern to really continue, we do empathize with the council on water rationing. Last year's wet and cool summer caused less water usage and residents had to think back to the last time we had odd-even rationing. For the record, it was 1998.

This year, it seems residents are going full speed ahead as some days' usage tops 21 million gallons. The city's supply of water has been reduced due to new federal arsenic standards that took some of our older wells offline. New wells, approved by voters, are not yet in the supply pipeline.

The city's ability to push water through the treatment system is also taxed on peak watering days. The higher demand forces us to buy the more expensive, treated water from Oklahoma City.

This summer season, city officials are asking that residents be sensible in their watering. Voluntary, odd-even conservation is encouraged. If your address is an odd one, water on odd-numbered calendar days. If it's an even one, switch to even-numbered days.

Watering should be done in the morning or late at night. Hand watering wastes less water.

One council member suggested a sort of water patrol that tags sprinklers that hit the sidewalks and streets instead of the intended vegetation. That may be a little intrusive. Residents are smart enough to know when they're wasting water. If individually we can learn to use less now, it will benefit all of us in the long run.

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