The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 10, 2013

Water rationing in city of Enid is likely to happen

ENID, Okla. — City of Enid spokesman Steve Kime says he doesn’t foresee any immediate water rationing.

If this summer is as dry as the last two years, however, it should be a topic of discussion now.

Last summer, Enid ordered an odd-even lawn watering 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.

In March, the city and Koch Nitrogen Co. announced efforts to decrease use of potable water at the plant.

Koch was Enid’s top treated water user the past two years, consuming 1.2 billion gallons in 2010 and 1.6 billion gallons last year, according to the city’s annual groundwater reports. Koch averages about 154 million gallons per month.

History provides some perspective. In January 1984, the director of public services asked citizens to expect voluntary water rationing days after Enid’s then-largest industrial water user, Champlin Petroleum Co., ceased operations at its refinery, according to an Oklahoman report.

Champlin’s average daily consumption was about 460,000 gallons. Director Jerry Smith said he expected increased demand would cause the fourth-straight summer of voluntary rationing.

According to the 1984 report, Enid then averaged 13 million gallons of daily consumption, with usage increasing to 18 million during July through September. At the time, the city’s system could handle pumping 16.5 million gallons daily.

We realize a direct comparison to three decades ago is unfair. Weather patterns aren’t identical, and the city has been working to increase production capacity by drilling new wells.

Enid gets its water from three well fields northwest of the city. 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.

Due to the extended drought, our aquifers aren’t as recharged as they need to be despite recent rain. We should be better stewards as consumers.

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

We know usage spikes when people water their lawns and it stops raining. Other Oklahoma cities have addressed the drought and already requested rationing.

We need to start thinking water rationing will be likely.

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