A lingering drought and a thirsty city are shrinking Oklahoma City's main water supply – Lake Hefner. The northwest side lake is seven feet below normal, according to city officials. The extra "beach" area is also a problem for visitors to the surrounding park.
"It smells salty and nasty," park visitor Monica Martinez said.
City officials say they are not terribly concerned with the current lake level because they are hoping for more rain to fill all of Oklahoma City's six lakes used for drinking water.
"We really need some rain coming down the North Canadian River," said Oklahoma City Utilities spokeswoman Debbie Ragan. "When you see the lake levels go down, it's because it's water that we're using. So water conservation is more important than ever when we don't have the rainfall."
The city has never stopped its mandate on odd/even water restrictions since it was first implemented in 2013. The mandate allows homeowners of even numbered addresses to water on even numbered dates. Odd addresses are good to go on odd dates.
If the anticipated rains stay away, the city can enter stage two conservation -- restricting outdoor watering to two days a week. Stage three allows outdoor watering one day a week. Stage four restricts people to only hand watering. Stage five is a complete ban. The city has never been beyond stage one, according to Ragan.
"[Lake Hefner] still has about 58 percent of accessible water," Ragan said.
Violating water conservation laws can cost people more than $200 for the first offense to a total of $1,950 on strike four. City officials say they will usually warn residents before giving tickets.
For more info on Oklahoma City's water conservation program, click here.