The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

December 11, 2012

2-year drought has water demand taxing city of Enid's delivery system

ENID, Okla. — You open the tap and water comes rushing out into the glass, with bubbles sparkling in the light.

That cool, quenching drink of water is taken for granted by most of us. But a drought that has gripped the area for two years, and the accompanying water rationing last summer, brought the subject to the attention of many Enid residents. City Manager Eric Benson and engineer Murali Katta discussed the city water situation this week.

“There is concern about water based on the drought. But, the atmosphere and drought are beyond our control,” Benson said.

A challenge the city faces is its ability to deliver water to meet demand. Last summer, demand exceeded expectations, and Benson said the job of the city is to be certain everyone has core services.

Benson said Enid has received 25 percent less rain this year than last year, and the same is anticipated in 2013.

“Next year, we anticipate the same giant demand. We must keep demand at a manageable level,” he said.

“When you have a drought and high temperatures, people want to sprinkle 24-seven.”

Benson said Enid has some large industrial customers who use a lot of water. All prosperous communities have those customers, he said, and need them. When a community is examined by an industry, the ability to deliver water is among the things examined. The city has an obligation to industrial customers.

Benson said there are three areas the city must focus on: The amount of water the city can supply, the amount it can draw and the amount it must continue to acquire for the future.

The city’s current pumping capacity is 21 million gallons per day. Due to the drought last summer, demand was just over 20 million gallons per day, Benson said. The city constantly acquires more water rights and installs wells.

“We’ve acquired more water rights in the last three years than we have in the previous 15 years,” Benson said.

The process is to find the water, mine it and deliver it, which is more difficult than it sounds, he said. The city uses a number of technologies to complete that process, but Benson and Katta said the city is exploring a new type of technology that will allow it to obtain more water at a lower cost.

The process is horizontal drilling, similar to the horizontal process used in the oilfield, Benson said. Currently, several wells are drilled in a reservoir, and water is brought into the pipeline by vertical wells. The new technology would drill one well in the center of a mile formation, and send satellite stems horizontally to drill into a number of strata. Katta said there is an 18-foot hole established and the well is dug inside that hole.

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