Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People
Logan Layden is a native of McAlester, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and spent three years as a state capitol reporter and local host of All Things Considered for NPR member station KGOU in Norman.
Duncan’s water supplies are already in bad shape because of the drought. Lake Waurika — Duncan’s main water source — is only about 32 percent full, and city officials are beginning to look toward groundwater as a lake levels continue to drop.
And if it weren’t enough for water supplies to be stretched to their limits, now the water itself is contaminated. Continue Reading →
Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.
Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend, the latest in a series of park closures that started in 2011, and a victim of budget priorities and changing attitudes at the department of tourism. StateImpact traveled to the banks of Keystone Lake to visit with some of Walnut Creek’s last campers as a state park, and the people whose livelihoods are now in danger.
Cleveland, Oklahoma — population 3,200 — relies on a small reservoir southwest of the city for its water, despite being located on the banks of the Arkansas River.
And a water crisis is brewing there. But the problem can’t be blamed oncrumbling pipelines, an obsolete treatment plant, or drought — though more rain is needed. The problem is silt. The Cleveland Reservoir is nearly 80 years old.
That kind of hyperbole is expected anytime President Barack Obama’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does, well, anything. But the changes being proposed to the way bodies of water are classified are confusing.
Insufficient rains and increasing demand put enormous pressure on Oklahoma’s water resources both on the surface and underground. But it’s also hard to overstate the role evaporation plays in the drought.
The oil and gas industry has been part of the problem, storing tens of millions of gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process in large, open pits, leaving it to be ravaged by evaporation until the water is needed.
After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.
Last week, the city council in Duncan discussed moving to Stage 4 water rationing, which would limit outdoor watering to just one day per week. Now, officials in Lawton are instituting tougher city-wide water restrictions. Continue Reading →
How much water is too much to withdraw from the Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which underlies central Oklahoma? That’s the question going forward, now that a study of the aquifer is finished. But one thing seems clear: the status quo is not sustainable.
A large, Central Oklahoma aquifer will be 50 percent depleted as early as 2049 if usage continues at the current rates, an updated study presented Tuesday to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board shows. The study on the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which lies beneath much of central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Shawnee and other cities, examined the rates of water usage from 1987 through 2009.
The water situation for the city of Duncan continues to deteriorate. Despite improving drought conditions in the area, portions of Stephens County — where Duncan is located — are still in the severe or exceptional drought categories.
So, at a meeting Tuesday, the Duncan City Council voted to move from the Stage 3 rationing the city has been under since March 2013 — which limits outdoor watering to the early morning hours twice a week — to Stage 4, but delayed implementation until October.