Last year's drought and a surging growth rate are behind plans to build west Oklahoma City's water infrastructure over the next five years.
The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust approved a nearly $653 million capital improvements plan this week, detailing projects for the next five years. The plan is subject to the city council's formal approval, and specific projects and expenditures can be modified as the plan is implemented.
About $488 million of the plan would be spent on the city's water system, with the rest planned for wastewater drainage and treatment projects.
Area is growing
The punishing drought of 2011 exposed weaknesses in the city's water distribution system, city officials said. Customers at the edges of Oklahoma City, especially in the west, suffered from low water pressure on peak usage days.
City water customers routinely used more than 200 million gallons per day last summer, after a daily record of 189 million gallons had stood for years.
West Oklahoma City also is the fastest-growing part of the city, and the city itself is one of the fastest-growing in the country, according to U.S. Census figures. A focus of the improvements plan approved this week is to move more water out west.
Short-term improvements to a water treatment facility at Lake Overholser should help, while a treatment plant at Lake Hefner is expanded to have a capacity of 150 million gallons per day by 2017. The city plans to then begin closing down the Overholser plant and expand the Hefner plant's capacity by another 50 million gallons per day.