Marilyn Barton smiled as she lifted her golden shovel, loaded with Logan County dirt.
The president of Logan County Rural Water District No. 1 stood with fellow board members and officers during a groundbreaking ceremony about a shovel's length from a mud hole, the site of a water tower that could be the answer to a growing community's water problems.
Logan County residents who live on the east side of Interstate 35 said they have been dealing with low water pressure on a regular basis.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Logan County was the 68th fastest growing county in the nation between April 2010 and July 2011, with more than 300 new homes built in that year.
Barton said she and her husband were attracted by the prospect of a home built in the country but with city possibilities. She said she had no idea how much the district would grow when they moved there in 1982.
“We came here to build our retirement home, and we didn't know everyone else was coming, too,” Barton said.
Steve Paris, vice president of the water district, said he has seen the area's population explode, from 300 members in the water district in 1979 to more than 2,500 today.
“Rural water supply supports country living and so it is very important for us to provide a proper water supply for everyone that wants that lifestyle,” he said.
Meeting the demand
Paris said the increase in people tapping into the water supply led to unhappy customers at the end of the pipe who were getting just a trickle for their morning showers.
“We had just so much growth so fast, it was like a tidal wave, and we were just doggy paddling to keep up,” Paris said.
“This tower will put us back at an even playing field.”
Another problem came during the summer months, when residents' bills would skyrocket due to a lack of rain.
Buddy Thompson, a manager in Water District No. 1, said he isn't sure the new tower will help with the rising bills during the summer months.
“I'm not going to say it will decrease any rates,” Thompson said. “It all depends on what the summer holds with the drought. Our board will review rates for summer in April and make a decision depending on what the weather looks like.”
The 97-foot tower located on Charter Oak Road just west of Douglas Boulevard is expected to be completed in April and will cost $1.25 million, to be funded by a loan provided by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund administered by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the state Department of Environmental Quality.