City Braces For Potential Summer Water Issues

Wednesday, April 4th 2012, 9:33 pm
By: News 9

Spring has just sprung, but Oklahoma City's water department is already gearing up for a busy and potentially stressful summer.

Last year's drought forced the city to impose outdoor watering restrictions to conserve water, and this summer could be even worse.

Last summer, for a short period of time, there were people in Oklahoma City who actually went without the precious resource because of low water pressure. City officials say they are taking steps to ease the impact this year, but there is only so much they can do when pinned against Mother Nature.

Jack and JoAnn Graham of far northwest Oklahoma City remember those triple-digit dog days of summer last year. They are gearing up for the dry heat to strike again.

"We have seed starter because we had to replace some grass from last year," JoAnn Graham said.

Her husband is already thinking about alternative plants for this year.

"We kind of have to cut back on what we're growing and the types that we're growing," Jack Graham said.

Debbie Ragan of Oklahoma City Utilities says the end of the drought is nowhere in sight.

"We're expecting the extremely high temperatures," Ragan said.

Those temperatures and lack of rain means possible odd/even outdoor watering restrictions and low water pressure this summer. Last year at this time, the lakes were full but quickly dropped mostly because of outdoor watering.

"We estimate that about 60 percent of our treated water is used outdoors," Ragan said.

To help relieve the pain this summer, the city has replaced a 60-inch water main serving the northeast side. It has added a water main extension from Lake Hefner to west Oklahoma City, and it has installed four new pumping stations.

Back at the Graham household, Jack and JoAnn say they will try to reach a happy medium when watering their yard.

"As far as the yard is concerned, we cut our watering back," JoAnn Graham said.

City officials are banking on seeing low water levels at the lakes this year. But, with its recent improvements, they are hopeful that water access and pressure will not be an issue.

The city is recommending planting things that can endure the heat and drought.