Tulsa mayor calls for voluntary water conservation
BY KEVIN CANFIELD & ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
8/01/12 at 7:03 AM
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The city of Tulsa moved a step closer to mandatory water rationing Tuesday as the state ended July by continuing its hottest start of any recorded year.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett signed an executive order asking city water customers to voluntarily restrict their water use as the city attempts to avoid making those restrictions mandatory.
The voluntary restrictions took effect immediately and call for customers to limit outside watering to between midnight and noon every other day, based on odd-even address numbers. Even-numbered street addresses can water on even-numbered calendar days, and odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days.
The voluntary restrictions also apply to residents of Jenks, Owasso and Bixby who receive water from the city of Tulsa. Broken Arrow, Claremore and Bartlesville officials have also asked residents to voluntarily restrict water use.
Tulsa's water system saw slightly more than 207 million gallons of use on Monday and has a maximum delivery rate of 210 million gallons per day," Bartlett said.
"So we are very close to that amount," the mayor said. "That is why the urgency of my request to our citizens is to please, please, please conserve the use of water immediately."
The voluntary water conservation efforts are considered "Stage 1" restrictions and are triggered when city water customers use more than 197 million gallons on two consecutive days.
Stage 2 restrictions - which make the Stage 1 restrictions mandatory - are triggered when daily water usage exceeds 204 million gallons for two consecutive days.
Sunday, customers used 198.09 million gallons. Monday, the figure jumped to 207.3 million gallons, just shy of the city's record usage of over 207.6 mgd set on two days last year.
Should city water customers use more than 204 million gallons Tuesday, it would trigger the mandatory restrictions. The water usage for Tuesday will be known early Wednesday.
At that time, the city will announce how those mandatory restrictions would affect the city's use of water at its parks, golf courses and other facilities, Bartlett said.
Clayton Edwards, the city's Water and Sewer Department director, said the city has an adequate supply of raw water.
The issue "is our ability to treat and pump water out of the distribution system, and we are reaching our maximum ability to deliver water."
Edwards said Tulsa's average daily water usage for the month of July was 174 million gallons, up from the July average the last five years of 134 million gallons a day.
Should mandatory water restrictions be imposed, violators could face civil penalties ranging from $100 to $500 per violation.
But Edwards stressed that the city's focus is on conserving water, not penalizing residents.
"We want them to just comply with the ordinance and reduce water consumption," Edwards said.
Edwards said the city had more water line breaks than usual on Monday but that breaks for the year are down.
Water rationing comes as Tulsa and Oklahoma continue to set temperature records.
According to the National Weather Service, Tulsa set a new calendar date record high for July 31, reaching 111 degrees Tuesday. The previous July 31 record was 108, set in 1980.
Tulsa also set records for highest low temperature on Monday, 86 degrees, and Tuesday, 88 degrees.
Gary McManus, associate state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said that as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oklahoma has had an average temperature of 63.9 degrees for the year - the hottest January to July period on record for Oklahoma. It is almost 5 degrees above normal, according to National Climatic Data Center records. The records, dating back to 1895, base average temperatures off long-term climate records, including from the National Weather Service.
Most Oklahoma summers are hot and dry, so what makes 2012 special?
"It's the spring rainy season that's key," McManus said. "That replenishes the soil moisture, so that the sun doesn't just hit the surface.
"When you lose that moisture, the sun's just heating the surface."
That, coupled with the aftereffects of last year's drought, as well as a mild winter, led to 2012's heat, McManus said.
With seven months down and five to go, 2012 is now competing with the hottest year on record in state history, 1954.
"The 1950s statistically had the worst droughts in Oklahoma," McManus said. "They were dealing with long-term La Niña (the cooling of the east-central Pacific Ocean) in the '50s as well, which can bring warmer than normal temperatures."
The average temperature from January to July in 2011 was 61.5 degrees; it was 60.8 degrees during the period in 1954.
Tulsa and the rest of northeast Oklahoma have especially dealt with drought hardship in recent months, McManus said.
"It was one of the worst hit areas of the state," McManus said. "It's one of the areas with the least amount of rainfall, which extends all the way back to May."
Some relief may be around the corner for Tulsa, which has a slight chance of rain forecast on Saturday, said Tulsa National Weather Service meteorologist David Jankowski.
However, it will still be summer in Oklahoma, McManus said.
"August is just like July: Not a great month to expect drought relief," McManus said. "We probably have a month more of this to look forward to."
Tulsa heat continues
|Wednesday's forecast high
|Wednesday's forecast low
|*100-degree days this summer
|July's rainfall total
*Since summer started June 21 Source: National Weather Service
|July rainfall average
Tulsa water use restriction stages
Source: City of Tulsa
- 197 mgd: If water use tops 197 million gallons per day (mgd) for two consecutive days, voluntary water restrictions will begin. Customers are asked to limit outside watering to the hours between midnight and noon every other day, based on odd-even address numbers.
- 204 mgd: If water use tops 204 mgd for two consecutive days, voluntary restrictions would become mandatory.
- 210 mgd: If water use tops 210 mgd for two days, watering would be restricted to the hours between midnight and noon every other day and with the use of a hand-held hose only.
- Higher: If use grows higher, then outside watering could be prohibited.
Tulsa: July 2011 versus July 2012
Days reaching 100:
2011: 90.9 degrees
2012: 88.5 degrees*
2011: 107 degrees (July 10, 27 and 31)
2012: 111 degrees (July 31)
2011: 72 degrees (July 5)
2012: 66 degrees (July 15)
2011: 0.36 inches
2012: 1.38 inches
Source: National Weather Service
*As of July 30
Tulsa: 2011 versus 2012
(Jan. 1 through July 30 each year)
Average temperature (degrees Fahrenheit):
Rainfall (in inches)
Source: National Weather Service
Original Print Headline: Heat won't let up
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313 Althea Peterson 918-581-8361
Rick Boss of Tulsa wipes his face as he runs part of his four miles along Riverside Drive near 41st Street on Tuesday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Brighton Alexander (left) and Andrew Dentis cool off at the Chandler Park swimming pool in west Tulsa on Tuesday. Temperatures in the triple digits are forecast through the weekend. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
A wilted sunflower droops in the heat at the Goswick residence in Tulsa on Tuesday, when the high hit 111 degrees, setting a record for the date. CHRISTOPHER SMITH/ Tulsa World
Alex Arias offers protective glasses to a co-worker while working on the bridge on the Broken Arrow Expressway near Sheridan Road on Tuesday. KT KING/Tulsa World