The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

May 1, 2013

Rationing Enid water ... maybe yes, maybe no

ENID, Okla. — City officials can’t say for sure whether Enid residents will have to ration water this summer.

Just a day after Oklahoma City officials set hard benchmarks for when they would tighten water restrictions, Enid’s spokesman said a decision on local rationing still could be a few months away.

“We don’t foresee any rationing, but if we have summers like we’ve had the last two years, it will be a topic of discussion,” said Steve Kime.

The Enid area had healthy February precipitation — mostly through the slow runoff of snowstorms. The Mesonet weather station in Lahoma measured 3.56 inches of rain in February, which is the highest recorded precipitation total in the past year.

Since then, though, rain only has come sparingly and in smaller amounts than 2012. Last year, the Lahoma weather station a dozen miles west of the city logged the lowest rainfall total in six years with about 22 inches of precipitation.

As of May 1, the Enid area is nearly five inches behind the precipitation totals set last year.

A big problem city planners face is the time water takes to seep down into the Cimarron Aquifer.

“The rain we get today doesn’t show up for seven months,” said Public Works Director Jim McClain.

Kime said a discussion about water rationing probably won’t happen until this summer.

“If we’re having the conversation in June, and it didn’t rain in May or June, we’ll be forced to make some decisions, but it’s just too early to tell,” he said.

At that point, with observations and recommendations from his staff, City Manager Eric Benson would make the call. Last year, Benson ordered an odd-even sprinkling system that forced alternating sides of the street to keep their outside faucets off on certain days. Enid also limited home gardeners to just an hour of hand-watering.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma City got an early start to the summer dry season by implementing a series of benchmarks for when to restrict certain activities. Oklahoma City gets its water from six lakes in the area, and the first restrictions show up when the lakes are at 50 percent full. All outdoor watering will be banned when lakes are only 35 percent full, the city said on its website.

Enid, though, gets its water from three well fields northwest of the city. The farthest water well is about 50 miles away, McClain said. Out of about 150 wells, there usually are half a dozen not operating because they need maintenance, or to go easier on the aquifer under it.

“We try to manage our wells so that we can give some time for them to recharge,” McClain said.

Customers of Enid’s Public Works use about 10.5 million gallons of water each day, and McClain’s water transmission lines have the capability of pushing 23 million gallons of water in a day to the city.

“It all depends on drought, the rainfall, how much is pulled out for industry — that type of thing,” he said.

Along with its in-city customers, Enid also provides water to the Salt Fork Water Authority and the towns of Drummond, Waukomis and Lahoma.�

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