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Altus Group Draws Up Water Plan

ALTUS Okla_ The City of Altus got some expert advice in helping with its drought problem, which has been a problem that's grown throughout the year.

A group of lawmakers and concerned citizens presented a plan to the Altus City Council this week to help develop more water. The plan is called "The Southwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan".

Over the past two decades, they estimate that ten studies have been done in the area on how to develop more water in Altus, and this group decided that it was time to take all those studies and make a plan.

"The group has a couple of different goals in mind," Altus Lawmaker Mike Schulz said. "One is certainly short-term need and the other is long-term need. It's no secret that we are in what I think is the worst drought ever in Oklahoma, and certainly in Southwest Oklahoma."

The group has enlisted the help of two water experts from Oklahoma City to help them read all the past studies and formulate the plan, which they hope to have together by the end of January.

"This group is not just focusing on one entity or one area," Schulz said. "We want this to be an entire Southwest Oklahoma effort."

Schulz said the next step is to have representatives from the Altus Air Force Base, Tom Steed Master Conservatory and rural water districts join their group.

"What will come from what this group does I think may very well be one of the most important things we can work towards in Western Oklahoma," Schulz said.

Ortega said implementing this plan in the future will take state and federal support in order to get ahead of the curve.

"We don't want to wait to see how long the drought will last," Schulz said. "We have to come up with some solutions, and we have to take action. That's what this group is going to be about: putting all the minds together, and all the resources together."

Schulz said one of the short term solutions is developing more groundwater in the area, but he said the goal isn't to just patch the problem. By coming together, he hopes they'll keep future ones from happening.

"We have some immediate short-term needs, and we will work rapidly and diligently to try to find solutions to those needs," Schulz said. "Then, we will also develop some long-term strategies, so when this thing happens 20 years from now we're prepared for it."

The two main sources of water for the Altus area are Lake Lugert and Tom Steed Reservoir. As of Friday morning, Lake Lugert was only at 12 percent and Tom Steed was only at 28 percent.



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