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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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Craig Tockey, the facilities and recreation supervisor for Altus, said lake levels continue to drop, hitting 32 percent on Wednesday. If the decline continues, more restrictions could be placed on the city.

“We are getting close to the lake being at 30 percent full,” Tockey said.

“We are seeking out new sources of water and we are studying some wells that hopefully are good wells, and we will be able to get our water supply back to normal hopefully,” he said.

Tockey said it's been hard watching the news and seeing other parts of the state get significant rainfall while Altus only gets sprinkles.

Over the past 30 years, Altus has averaged 29.17 inches of rain a year. But since 2010, the average has been 16.5 inches.

“It's disheartening,” Tockey said. “We haven't been able to irrigate our cotton crops in two years. Everything is green enough right now, but that won't last once the heat rises.”

Tockey said city officials will continue to seek other ways of getting water to Altus, but for now everyone will have to make due.

“At this rate, you're looking at about three years left worth of water in the reservoir,” he said.

“It's pretty tough, but citizens are doing their part and I feel confident that we will come through it,” Tockey said.