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Water access is a critical part of Oklahoma City's past, future

Oklahoma City's quest to secure drinking water began two months after the Land Run in 1889 and continues today.
Oklahoman Modified: January 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm •  Published: January 9, 2013
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Access is key to city's past, future

Oklahoma City's quest to secure water began just two months after the Land Run in 1889 and continues today, according to a historical narrative on the city utilities department's website.

Initially, the city relied on wells for drinking water, but those went dry during the summer months.

Lake Overholser was built in 1918, and immediately thereafter plans were developed for a second reservoir.

Construction of Lake Hefner started in the early 1940s but it was not complete until 1947, as construction was stopped during World War II.

In 1961, the city began building Lake Atoka and Stanley Draper Lake and laid a 100-mile pipeline to bring the water to the city.

The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust purchased limited water storage rights to Sardis Lake from the state for nearly $28 million in 2010. The reservoir is fed by the Kiamichi River Basin, in southeast Oklahoma, which also includes McGee Creek Reservoir.

The federal government owns McGee Creek and Canton Lake, in northwest Oklahoma, but the city owns water rights at each.

City residents consume an average of 110 million gallons of water a day from the reservoirs.

A water supply study in 2009 estimated central Oklahoma's water needs could exceed 300 million gallons a day by 2060.

Zeke Campfield, Staff Writer


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