The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

February 17, 2013

Not too soon to think about water conservation

We understand 2013 is the year of the water snake. From the looks of recent headlines, it’s also the year of water rationing.

In January, Oklahoma City implemented odd-even rationing, subjecting suburbs using metro water to similar restrictions.

Low levels at Lake Hefner put the boating season on the skids, and we’ve read that draws by OKC on Canton Lake could cause fish kills.

Norman residents found they could face mandatory water conservation measures in the near future. The Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, which manages Lake Thunderbird, recently learned no water currently is available from OKC’s Atoka line, which runs near the east Norman lake.

There are too many straws, and not enough liquid.

Enid was built atop its own water source — the Enid Isolated Terrace (EIT) — but the city has long since outgrown the capacity of this aquifer. Now, it predominantly relies on water pumped from wells fed by an aquifer that follows the path of the Cimarron River.

Last summer, two seasons of scorching drought forced Enid to implement controversial rationing.

When can Enid residents expect rationing to be announced this year?

According to city hall, officials will be in a better position after springtime to determine whether water rationing will be needed. In other words, pray for rain.

Enid is emphasizing well drilling and water acquisition. With the two water towers coming online in late summer, this should help with the capacity and support of current infrastructure.

It’s also practical for industry to use so-called “gray water” to free the resource for increased residential use. Koch Industries’ nitrogen plant was Enid’s top treated water user in 2011, consuming a massive 1.6 billion gallons.

Commissioner-Elect Ben Ezzell has said a water treatment plant capable of “scrubbing” gray water to be within Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality standards for companies like Koch would go a long way to addressing the city’s water issues.

“We really need to get our outflow water to Koch, and get them using that again,” Ezzell said. “That would double our potable water supply, and that buys us decades.”

While the city may be working to develop new wells, there’s still only so much water to be had. The real answer is simple, but less popular: People need to learn to get by with less.

We need to conserve water year-round, even when it’s raining outside. Obviously, it hasn’t been raining enough.

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