Drought: Tulsa officials say water rationing not yet needed
BY Staff Reports
Saturday, January 26, 2013
1/26/13 at 6:00 PM
This story previously listed the wrong lake level for Grand Lake. The story has been corrected.
Related story: Drought affects rural, urban areas of state.
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The water supply for the city of Tulsa and surrounding communities has been adversely affected by the drought but not to the point that emergency measures are needed, city of Tulsa officials said recently.
"We have adequate supplies of all water," said Clayton Edwards, Water and Sewer Department director. "We are not in any immediate danger as far as rationing water ... We are just taking precautions."
Beginning in early December, the city ceased taking water from Lake Spavinaw, which is fed by Lake Eucha, and began replacing that water supply with water from Lake Hudson. The water is pumped into the city's Mohawk water plant through an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority.
The city's water supply comes from two primary sources - Spavinaw and Oologah lakes.
Edwards said Lake Eucha is 11 feet below spillway level and Lake Oologah is 4.2 feet below spillway level.
"One of the reasons we are diverting water from Lake Hudson, of course, is the drought," Edwards said. "But the (National Weather Service's) Climate Prediction Center says drought conditions will continue through April."
The city of Tulsa provides water to 137,000 metered customers in Tulsa and outlying communities including Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs and Sapulpa. Suburban communities that receive water are billed as individual customers, with only a handful of meters per community, accounting for the difference in total population and metered customers.
January's average daily usage of about 89 million gallons is typical for this time of year, Edwards said. In the summer, average daily usage reaches 150 million gallons.
Edwards said diverting water from Lake Hudson reflects the city's conservative management of its water supply and would not result in rate increases.
"Historically, the lake (Eucha) has been at a lot lower level than it is now," Edwards said.
Other area cities
Broken Arrow city spokeswoman Stephanie Higgins said her city's water usage has been typical for winter and that no need for rationing appears imminent.
Broken Arrow buys its water from the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority, which pulls from the Grand River.
The water situation is stable in the city of Claremore, whose main water source is Claremore Lake, which is about 2 1/2 feet below normal, said Cassie Woods, the city's director of communications.
"We've been in a lot worse situations over the summer," Woods said. "It's not like it's going to drop six inches in a week. We have quite a while."
The municipality is using about 2.5 million gallons a day, about half of what it uses during the heat of summer.
Skiatook, as well, is in no immediate danger, Mayor Josh Brown said.
"We actually have more water now than we did this time last year but not much more," he said. "We certainly need this spring to be gracious with the rain."
Skiatook gets its water from Skiatook Lake, which is about 12 feet below normal. The city serves about 5,100 customers, including roughly 2,500 from Rural Water District No. 15.
Other area cities are keeping a close eye on lake levels and waiting to see how much rain comes this spring before considering rationing.
David Gilliland, assistant city manager in Sapulpa, said that Sapulpa partners with Sand Springs for water from Skiatook Lake. Both cities have secondary lakes that are also low.
Many of Creek County's rural water districts buy water from Sapulpa and Tulsa.
Other areas rationing, restricting
Some Oklahoma towns are rationing and are worried about running out of water.
Mandatory water rationing is in place in Glencoe, Yale, Norman, Wapanucka, three water districts in Pawnee County and one water district in Payne County.
Lone Chimney Lake, located about 12 miles northeast of Stillwater, is so low that nearby towns may be losing its water source in the next couple of months.
The Payne County lake is 11 feet below normal and is at its lowest level.
It provides water to about 16,000 residents in Glencoe, Morrison, Pawnee and Agra.
A $3.3 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is being used to build a pipeline from Stillwater's water treatment plant to the Lone Chimney plant.
With completion not expected for another six months, trucks may have to deliver water to residents, if it doesn't rain.
Bartlesville adopted a water conservation program in December as part of a drought contingency plan.
Its two main lakes supplying water are down - Hulah Lake is at 49 percent of its water supply and Hudson Lake has 82 percent of its supply available.
Residents are being asked to water lawns once a week and cut out washing cars at home.
In Oklahoma City, city officials implemented mandatory outdoor watering restrictions earlier this month. The conservation measures are a response to low water levels at lakes Hefner, Overholser and Draper, which provide the city's water supply. The lakes are just more than half-full.
World staff writers Kevin Canfield, Zack Stoycoff, Susan Hylton, Rhett Morgan and Ginnie Graham contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: City officials: Rationing not yet needed
Area lake levels as of Friday
The backflow of the Arkansas River shows signs of the drought near Cleveland, Okla. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World