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Water concerns dominate Norman City Council meeting

Norman City Council members Tuesday approved an ordinance restricting the use of phosphorus-based fertilizers believed to be harming Lake Thunderbird and discussed ways to deal with an ongoing drought that is affecting the lake's level.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: February 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said city officials should take a proactive approach in educating the public, but an ordinance also is necessary because of the seriousness of the situation.

“This is our drinking water,” Rosenthal said. “We already have problems with supply. This is about quality.”

Drought concerns

Because of an ongoing drought, the city is under a mandatory water conservation plan that bans outdoor watering or irrigation on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On other days, it bans outdoor watering or irrigation between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and allows for odd/even outdoor watering based on street addresses during other hours.

Lake Thunderbird's water level is 7.5 feet below the conservation pool level of 1,039 feet, prompting the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District — the lake's governing body — to mandate in January a 10 percent cut in usage by Norman, Midwest City and Del City, the three cities that rely on the lake for drinking water.

Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said the lake's governing board may mandate further cuts if the lake level continues to drop.

At its Tuesday meeting, council members approved amending the city's water conservation plan to add “triggers,” which would result in further mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering in Norman.

Those triggers would be if the lake level drops to 1,029 feet or below, or if the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District cuts usage by another 10 percent.

Komiske said either trigger would mean residents would be restricted to watering only one day a week. Some council members said they also favored prohibiting outdoor watering by hand, which currently is allowed at any time.

“Anyone under 30 doesn't know what a drought is like,” Komiske said. “They haven't lived through one yet. It's not just a matter of having a dry year. We're in our third year of a drought right now, and predictions are that the drought will continue and possibly intensify for another three years.”

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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