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Under pressure

OKC implemented then rescinded a water-rotation program last week, and it might not be the last restriction during this scorching summer.

Clifton Adcock July 20th, 2011

For those spending time in a subterranean air-conditioned compound and not watching the weather: It’s hot outside.

Very hot. So it was last week that the city, for the first time in more than a decade, implemented a mandatory odd-even water rotation program. Update: On Tuesday, July 19 the City of Oklahoma City announced via press release that the temporary outdoor watering ban for NW and NE areas will end at noon, July 20. However, the city has reinstated the odd/even water rotation program, effective at noon, July 20, throughout the summer or until further notice. 

The increased demand for water in the city — coupled with the drought and the Overholser water treatment plant going offline for repairs — caused water pressure to drop significantly in some areas of the city, according to a media release from the city’s utility department.

The odd-even rotation program, which only restricts use of yard sprinklers and irrigation systems, required that citizens whose house numbers end in even numbers only water on even-numbered calendar dates and citizens whose house numbers end in odd numbers only water on odd-numbered calendar dates.

“The severe drought is causing water demand to be extremely high and water pressure to be low. The rotation program will reduce the amount of water used each day and low-pressure incidents that are unavoidable when everyone waters at once,” the media release stated.

Although low water pressure could occur anywhere in the city, those mostly likely to experience it are those living at the outskirts, since water is used along its way through the pipeline until those at the end of the line are left with little pressure.

The program included everyone using Oklahoma City water — The Village, Warr Acres, Lake Aluma, Piedmont, Moore, El Reno, Edmond, Yukon, Mustang, Norman, Blanchard, Deer Creek water district and Canadian County District 3 — in addition to Oklahoma City.

“Oklahoma City is producing all the treated water it can at this time, but water pressure remains poor in the northwest and southwest parts of the city,” stated a press release from the city on the restriction.

After getting rain for two days last week and the Overholser water treatment plant returning to service, the city rescinded the program, ending it on July 14.

“A few days of restricted outdoor watering and a few inches of rainfall have allowed us to restock the water storage tanks and reduce low-pressure incidents,” Utilities Director Marsha Slaughter said. “We are pleased that we could end the water restriction so early and thank everyone for their support and cooperation.”

However, it may not be the last time the city implements such watering restrictions, and the city is still asking that citizens voluntarily water their yards every other day.

“We’re encouraging people to continue if they can, just use water wisely,” said Debbie Ragan, spokeswoman for the city’s utility department. “We’ll continue to monitor the weather situation and our water system.”

During the most recent wateruse restriction program, city water crews were monitoring usage by citizens, and those found to be violating the restrictions were issued a notice.

Those who continue to violate the restrictions could be issued a citation and pay a $167 fine, Ragan said.

The recently rescinded restrictions were the first time in more than a decade the city has implemented such a program, Ragan said.

“The best we could figure is it’s been more than a decade to make it mandatory,” Ragan said, adding that the city has asked for voluntary conservation and watering bans when a treatment plant went down. “We haven’t done an odd-even in a long time.”

Photo by Shannon Cornman

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