NORMAN — While Fallin mentioned a Drought Management Plan in Tuesday’s State of the State address, she did not lay out the course for Oklahoma’s remedy to water needs.
“That’s going to be one of the toughest issues, the water issue,” Sen. Rob Standridge said.
“She’s thinking about it. There’s no indication that this coming summer is going to be any better than last summer.” said Rep. Scott Martin, R- Norman. “We’re going to have to think about it on a state level.”
Planning will be key.
“Outside of just appropriating money for relief, we’ve got to develop a long-range plan for how to get water to areas that desperately need it, and Norman is one of those areas,” Martin said. “I appreciate the years of work that went into our statewide water plan. We need to start developing solutions today.
“Norman has stepped up and is trying to be innovative and forward thinking, in particular with reuse. We need the state to support them in their efforts.”
“I think all of the Norman legislators are on the same page with that because they know how important that is to Norman,” said Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman.
Martin said the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality needs to “come to the table and be cooperative.”
“We really need to get them to work with us on that Category 1 reuse,” Virgin said. “Hopefully, we can get them to work with us on that as soon as possible.”
“If Norman is able to take the lead on this, I believe they’ll be the model for a lot of other communities to follow that find themselves with growing populations and fewer water resources,” Martin said. “Norman’s just one community of many that finds themselves in this situation. I have authored many reuse bills.”
Technology allows treatment to reuse reclaimed water.
“Category 1 is the one that would have to go through the most treatment,” Virgin said. “People are often hesitant to reuse this water, but it’s perfectly safe to reuse after it goes through the process. This wouldn’t be used for drinking but for cities to use for watering and those types of things.”
“Even the statewide water plan had a section on reuse,” Martin said. “We need our government to get on board. Oklahoma would not be the first to utilize technology in this regard.”
Martin soon will meet with the director of the Oklahoma DEQ.
“Now is the time,” Martin said. “We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
“We are wanting to be really out front on this,” Virgin said. “It’s not like it’s cutting-edge technology — plenty of states are doing this.”