City of Duncan Water Rationing Unchanged as Waurika Lake Withers

From the latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, showing most of western Oklahoma in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories.

U.S. Drought Monitor

From the latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, showing most of western Oklahoma in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories.

In October 2013, Waurika Lake, a source of water for Lawton, Duncan, and surrounding communities in southwest Oklahoma, was at 44 percent of its conservation pool. As of Tuesday, the water level was at 39.53 percent, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The lake is the main source of water for Duncan, which is already rationing. A city ordinance says when levels drop below 40 percent, even stricter conservation measures are supposed to go into effect.

But as The Duncan Banner‘s Steve Olafson reports, Stage 4 rationing — which would ban all outdoor watering, period — is being put on hold for now:

For now, city officials are content to remain under the so-called Stage 3 rationing, which allows outdoor lawn watering only on Wednesday and Saturdays from midnight to 9 a.m. Commercial car washes continue to operate but car dealers bring in tanker trucks from outside the city to clean their vehicles that are for sale.

[City Manager Jim Frieda] said weeks ago he has discretion regarding when Stage 4 rationing might be invoked and each member of [the] council has expressed reluctance to further tighten controls because of the economic impact.

The current rationing is having a big impact on the City of Duncan’s pocketbook. The paper reports sales revenue and sales tax revenue, which are combined to pay many city employees, including police and firefighters, has been “dramatically curtailed.”

There was, however, a bit of good water news to come out of the city council meeting. Duncan also relies on Lake Humphreys for municipal water. That lake is at 48 percent capacity, which is actually surprisingly high.

Its water levels had been reported much closer to the 40 percent mark in previous weeks, but Frieda said those calculations were erroneous.

The higher-than-expected water levels at Lake Humphreys gives Duncan some breathing room, in the mind of Councilman Mike Nelson. Mayor Gene Brown said he agreed.

Interestingly, the council then went ahead and approved a bid for a $180,000 “splash park” expected to be finished later this year.


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