Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

OKC’s Tab for Tapping Sardis Water Could Be $1 Billion

Sardis Lake in southeastern Oklahoma.

Gmeador / Flickr

Sardis Lake in southeastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City already depends on water from southeastern Oklahoma, but the 60-inch, 100-mile pipeline from Lake Atoka isn’t enough.

An ongoing federal lawsuit with the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations has stalled OKC’s efforts to tap Sardis Lake Reservoir. But even if OKC gets the rights to Sardis Lake, it’s still going to have to pump the water 180 miles upstream. That could cost $1 billion, reports The Journal Record’s M. Scott Carter, who got his hands on an unreleased study:

During a presentation to the Pottawatomie County commissioners in 2009, Brian Mitchell, a consultant from Camp, Dresser and McKee – the firm that helped write Oklahoma’s new water plan and worked as a consultant for Oklahoma City – said the cost to build a new, 90-inch pipeline paralleling the existing Atoka pipeline from Atoka to McGee Creek would hit about $1 billion. That pipeline would be used to move water from Sardis to central Oklahoma.

Another second major cost, Mitchell said, would be the cost of building a pipeline to move Sardis’ water to the existing McGee and Atoka lakes. The least-expensive alternative, Mitchell said, was to intercept the water at Moyers Crossing in Kiamichi County, but the infrastructure needed there would still cost more than $300 million.

Once the water is in OKC, the report suggested it could be used by more than a dozen other municipalities, the paper reports. OKC Water Utilities Trust spokeswoman Debbie Ragan told the Journal Record the city’s water plan hasn’t been finalized, but the it appears to be moving forward, Carter reports:

A May 16 presentation prepared for members of the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust indicates that a water availability analysis, a hydroelectric analysis, a conceptual design and the city’s recommended plan are almost complete. A second phase, which the presentation said is expected to begin late this year, will establish common design standards and standards for equipment and materials and develop construction sequences and schedules.

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