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Lawton looks into alternative water sources

LAWTON, Okla._Residents in Lawton could soon see the tightest water restrictions in the history of the city if the lakes in our area do not receive significant rainfall within the next few weeks.

City officials are looking for alternative water solutions as the possibility of entering a Stage 3 water restriction becomes a possibility. One solution the city will explore is to start utilizing reuse water. The city council voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to approve a $500,000 feasibility study to determine the best way of producing additional high-quality drinking water.

Afsaneh Jabbar, assistant director for water and wastewater, says reuse is a safe and proven alternative.

"Of course we will have a water supply that we can count on. It will be there all the time. It will not be evaporated. We lose a lot of our water in the lakes due to evaporation. If we were going to pipe it and pump it to one of the lakes we would lose some of it. If we pipe it directly to the water plant we will not lose any of it," explained Jabbar.

Funding for the study was approved in a 2012 Capital Improvement Project. Jabbar said the work to upgrade the city's water plants to turn reuse water into usable water for distribution would cost anywhere between $25 and $40 million. A funding source for that project has not yet been determined.

Another option the city is exploring is groundwater and connecting to a future pipeline from the Texas panhandle, through Oklahoma and into north Texas. The city council showed interest in the project at Wednesday’s council meeting. Although it is still too early to tell how much the water from the new pipeline would cost, engineers say the water found below the surface is drought-proof.

"Most of the communities that we are aware of and are involved with use surface water right now and surface water is very susceptible to drought. This alternative just provides another option that might be the best thing for those communities who we have identified as stakeholders," explained Ken Senour, senior vice president of Geurnsey.

Altus, Wichita Falls and Vernon, Texas, have also showed interest in the plan.

Engineers said this project is at least five to six years away from completion. The city of Lawton entered Stage 2 water restrictions back in March. Much of southwest Oklahoma remains in either exceptional or extreme drought.

The city says without a significant rain event, Stage 3 water restrictions could be implemented as soon as September.

 

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