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Drought puts Lake Hefner boating season in jeopardy

Oklahoma City is advising owners that the next two to three weeks likely will give them their best opportunity to float boats left high and dry because of the drought.
by William Crum Published: February 5, 2013

/articleid/3752345/1/pictures/1945289">Photo - Boats sit in the dry Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City,  Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman <strong>SARAH PHIPPS - SARAH PHIPPS</strong>
Boats sit in the dry Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman SARAH PHIPPS - SARAH PHIPPS

City utilities officials hope 20,000 acre-feet of the water eventually will make its way to Lake Hefner, raising the lake about 10 feet.

That's expected to be enough for some owners to move boats stranded in the mud.

Slaughter said the city has no plans to try to move boats that owners can't move themselves.

“This is a new trick for them, and it's a good one,” Green said. “They're being humane about it. That's good.”

Use more, pay more

With preparations under way to address the slip leases at Lake Hefner, the Water Utilities Trust board on Tuesday studied a proposal to increase rates for customers who use lots of water at home.

A plan presented by Bret Weingart, the utilities department assistant director, would have the intended effect of discouraging outdoor watering.

Water customers in Oklahoma City typically use about 7,000 gallons per month, officials said.

Chairman Pete White said he favored a simple approach that would reward people for using less water while maintaining — but not increasing — city revenues and making sure customers who use more pay more.

The city already has adopted a plan to limit water use by restricting outdoor watering to a maximum of every other day — known as odd-even because watering is tied to addresses.

New water rates could be coming soon, after the Water Utilities Trust makes a recommendation and the city council conducts public hearings and a vote.

“We're going to have to do something this summer, right?” said Cody Graves, a member of the Water Utilities Trust board, at Tuesday afternoon's meeting.

“Yes,” Slaughter said.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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