The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

January 9, 2013

A serious situation: Drought in Okla. means we need to make sacrifices

ENID, Okla. — OK everyone. We’ve talked about the water situation in Oklahoma before, and we’re going to bring it up again.

The drought affecting the state the past two years is a serious situation. We only have to look at the situation at Canton Lake to see another example of what we’re talking about.

Oklahoma City has rights to the water at Canton Lake, and city officials are considering a plan to take 30,000 acre feet of water from the lake to use as drinking water. The water level at the lake already is more than 9 feet below normal, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Taking that much water from the lake would  substantiallylower the level.

But, you know what? Oklahoma City has a perfectly legal right to that water. The lake was created to be used as flood control, water supply and irrigation.

Secondary purposes, such as recreation and wildlife habitat, were added later. But, it’s those secondary purposes that mean so much to the Canton area now.

If Canton Lake’s water level drops, some worry about massive fish kills and algae blooms. That could really impact the town of Canton, which during the summer sees plenty of people come through town to enjoy some fun at the lake. There also is the annual Walleye Rodeo, a four-day event that brings thousands to the community.

Oklahoma City officials have said they will take the water only as a last resort, and that they are encouraging people to voluntarily conserve water.

Voluntary, though, may not be enough.

Remember last summer? Enid city officials asked people to use less water because supply couldn’t keep up with demand. Then, they instituted water rationing because enough people didn’t voluntarily use less water. That whole situation caused a lot of hard feelings in the community.

So, what do we do?

In Enid, city officials have been buying up more water rights, and are constructing two new water towers to help the situation.

But, we’re in a drought, and experts don’t expect that to change in the short term. We all have got to get serious now about conservation efforts.

Community leaders across the state need to get serious about it. Residents need to get serious about it.

Until the drought ends, the strain on our water system is going to be high.

We’re all going to have to make sacrifices, and for many, that means not watering their lawns as much as they have in the past.

We encourage city officials locally and across the state to work on conservation plans now. And, we hope residents take heed and do their part, too.

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