Norman Narrows Its Options For How To Have Enough Water in 2060

  • Logan Layden
A water tower in Norman, Okla.

Melissa Megginson / Flickr

A water tower in Norman, Okla.

At a public meeting on Tuesday, residents in Norman — where the water system is stressed due to population growth and age, and drought has taken a toll on already troubled Lake Thunderbird — heard about the city’s two options for water sustainability through 2060.

The Norman Transcript‘s Joy Hampton reports both options would keep Lake Thunderbird and the city’s wells as the main water sources, and continue the push toward conservation that has already “reduced the per-capita demand.”

Portfolio 13:

Portfolio 13 would partner with Oklahoma City to develop a regional water supply, in part through building a water line from Atoka. The capital investment cost is highest in this portfolio and much of the expense comes up front.

Portfolio 14:

Portfolio 14 would develop new groundwater wells and would augment Lake Thunderbird through reuse of Norman’s reclaimed water. The water that currently goes down Norman’s drains would be recycled, receiving a higher level of treatment at the water reclamation facility (once known as the sewer or wastewater plant) and then discharged into Blue Creek, a tributary that leads to Lake Thunderbird.

Portfolio 13 is the more costly option, and building another water line from southeast Oklahoma isn’t a very popular idea in that part of the state.

Portfolio 14 is the cheaper, more self-reliant option, but it asks residents to get comfortable with reusing treated wastewater. As StateImpact reported, the Oklahoma Legislature opened the door to that possibility this session when a bill that allows the state Department of Environmental Quality to permit reuse projects was signed by the governor.

The paper reports a team from Carollo Engineers and company Vice President John Rehring worked with an ad hoc city committee to eliminate all but these last two options, which take into account other issues like future federal regulations on Chromium 6 in water, and depletion of the Garber-Wellington Aquifer.