The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 7, 2013

Don’t be a water glutton during the drought

ENID, Okla. — Showers and thunderstorms are likely in our local forecast, but how much rain is enough to prevent water rationing?

Recent snows did little to alleviate ongoing drought conditions, according to The Associated Press. For farmers, the moisture boost helped the wheat more than the cattle.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows 87 percent of Oklahoma in extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories, with exceptional drought continuing in the western third of the state and across the northern tier of counties, an area making up nearly 40 percent of Oklahoma.

We recently published Oklahoma Watch’s interview with J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

Here are the highlights:

Oklahoma is not running out of water yet, but we’re in the third year of drought.

This cyclical crisis will end at some point, but we don’t know when.

People using Canton Lake recreationally have a legitimate grievance about it being drained so people in Oklahoma City can water their lawns (even though OKC has the rights).

Most importantly, we all can do a better job at water conservation.

“We have enjoyed a number of decades of having plenty of water in our state,” Strong told Oklahoma Watch. “We’ve become a bit gluttonous about it as a society. There’s no better time than right now, in the midst of this drought, for people to think about the value of that water and how they could use it more efficiently.”

For now, the whole state is praying for more rain. And cities are planning ahead.

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

Southwest Oklahoma’s water supply is threatened by declining lake levels, The Lawton Constitution reports. And Altus recently enacted a second stage of water restrictions.

According to the Pauls Valley Democrat, just about any outside activities involving water are not allowed in that town for the time being.

Tecumseh residents also were asked to conserve daily water usage recently, The Shawnee News-Star reports.

What about Enid? According to city hall, officials will be in a better position after springtime to determine whether water rationing will be necessary.

The city of Enid is consistently monitoring weather conditions in the area and will make a determination when warranted.

We’re afraid water rationing will be inevitable. The conversation should start now.

In the meantime, adjust your expectations. Don’t expect to water outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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