NORMAN — Norman’s water usage is outpacing its supply, and nearly $300,000 worth of Oklahoma City water has been purchased since July 1.
Continued high usage could mean even stricter mandatory conservation on outdoor watering.
Despite the phase II mandatory conservation requirements currently in force by the city, Norman water usage has averaged around 24 million gallons per day. A significant amount of rain would be needed to ease the drain on Lake Thunderbird, the city’s primary source of water.
Through the weekend, water usage was well above 24 million gallons of water used by Norman customers per day. On Monday, usage declined slightly to 23.9 mgd.
Norman purchased 3.6 mgd from Oklahoma City on Monday. That’s the 17th consecutive day of emergency Oklahoma City water usage. So far, $271,335 worth of water has been purchased during Fiscal Year 2013, which started July 1.
Utilities Director Ken Komiske said conserving water is vital to ensure Norman residents have enough water to drink and enough water for public safety, such as fighting the wildfires that raged through Slaughterville and east Norman over the weekend.
Water for the Norman fire came from Norman fire hydrants, but the large loads of water dumped by Oklahoma National Guard helicopters was taken directly from Lake Thunderbird and other local bodies of water such as farm ponds.
Komiske said while the amount of water used to fight the fire may seem like a lot, the combined totals of water used by residents is the greatest impact, and watering yards is one of the highest uses of water during summer months. Bermuda grass will turn brown in the drought, but that does not mean it has died. The grass goes dormant and will green up when rains return.
Under phase II restrictions, no outdoor watering is allowed Wednesdays and Thursdays, and the odd/even rotation method of watering is in effect the rest of the week. Hand watering is allowed on all days.
The prohibition on outdoor watering two days a week allows the water supply to replenish and the system to catch up with demand.
If the city implements Phase III restrictions, outdoor watering would be limited to one day per week.
Continued high temperatures also mean large amounts of Lake Thunderbird are lost through evaporation. Currently, the lake’s conservation pool is slightly more than 75 percent full, registering at 1034.47 feet Tuesday — 4.5 feet below normal.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com