Drought could lead to tighter water restrictions for OKC residents

More restrictions on outdoor watering, price “disincentives” and increased rationing enforcement are being considered by the city of Oklahoma City as it grapples with an ongoing drought.
BY STEVE LACKMEYER slackmeyer@opubco.com Modified: January 23, 2013 at 8:38 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013
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The conservation efforts are a result of forecasts from The National Weather Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center that predict lower than normal rainfall will continue through spring 2013.

Climatologists say 2011 and 2012 together was the fourth-driest two-year period on record, and water levels at each of the city's storage reservoirs are at an all-time low.

“We don't know how long the drought will last,” Slaughter said. “Recent forecasts say it will continue through the spring — which are typically our wet months.”

Slaughter said the city is diverting stormwater into Lake Hefner. Reuse of treated wastewater as drinking water, and expansion of the city's current reuse system to existing irrigation customers is also an option.

“We reuse about eight million gallons of treated wastewater each day in power plants and on a golf course,” Slaughter said.

Part of the strained supply, Slaughter said, is due to continued housing development and an increase in customers. She said water use increased from 100 million gallons a day in 2010 to 111 million gallons a day in 2012.

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