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State News

February 1, 2013

Norman looks toward Atoka Pipeline as water worries mount in OKC

Norman —  

Oklahoma City began drawing  an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water from Canton Lake on Wednesday to boost Lake Hefner’s water supply. Canton’s full water supply is under contract to OKC. As the drought continues, OKC water could play an important role in Norman’s water supply as well. Negotiations to tap into the Atoka Pipeline in southeastern Oklahoma are under way, officials said

“It’s a concern because we’re on an emergency basis with Oklahoma City water and it’s an availability type rate,” Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said. “If they have water, they’re happy to sell it to us.” 

But Norman’s contract does not ensure water will be delivered. Year-round water customers will get OKC water first. 

“We’ve been meeting with them and talking to them,” Komiske said. “They want to provide water when they can.”

Last fiscal year, Norman purchased 147 million gallons of water from Oklahoma City. Those purchases span portions of the previous two summers because the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, Komiske said.

Because Norman brought more wells online, summer 2012 resulted in fewer purchases from OKC than in 2011.

Norman is already on mandatory water conservation because of low levels at Lake Thunderbird, the city’s primary water source. Recently, the Central Master Conservancy District asked Norman and its other municipal customers, Del City and Midwest City, to reduce allotments from Thunderbird by 10 percent.

Thunderbird’s conservation pool is seven-and-a-half feet low — 62 percent full. Canton’s conservation pool is 39 percent full.

COMCD, which manages Thunderbird, is negotiating to tap OKC’s Atoka line. That line brings raw water to OKC from southeast Oklahoma and is more expensive for OKC than using water from Canton Lake.

If COMCD can purchase raw water from the Atoka line to supplement Thunderbird, it will help ensure Norman’s base water supply. Norman is also discussing the possibility of leasing a portion of Del City’s Thunderbird allotment. 

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