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Altus city leaders worry about water crisis

Southwest Oklahoma city faces dwindling water supply; leaders institute restrictions.
BY ADAM KEMP akemp@opubco.com Published: May 3, 2013
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Walt Duncan starts each day before the sun rises to make sure his putting greens are in tiptop shape.

As the course superintendent of the Greens Golf Course in Altus, it's Duncan's job to keep the course manicured.

But with drought conditions and water restrictions wracking the city, Duncan said he's wondering whether it's only a matter of time before the course, and his source of income, is dried up.

“If things get worse and we don't get any rain they might shut our water off completely,” Duncan said. “As long as the greens are OK then we'll stay open. People need their drinking water and that comes first.”

Altus has had less than 6 inches of rain since the beginning of the year, forcing the city to issue an emergency ordinance in mid-April that took the city to Stage 3 water conservation levels.

In the month of April alone, Oklahoma City received more than 7 inches of rain, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Under Stage 3 regulations, customers are asked to restrict outside watering to one day a week between midnight and 5 a.m. for automatic or underground sprinkler systems, and from 8 p.m. to midnight for aboveground systems. There is also no filling of empty swimming pools, except after repairs, and car washing is limited to once a week.

Altus pulls its water from the Tom Steed Reservoir, which is nearly 30 miles northeast of the city. When the Stage 3 restrictions were put in place, the reservoir had dipped below 40 percent full.

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