Water use down

Lawton_If you've gotten your water bill recently, you probably got a pleasant surprise. Bet it's lower than it's been in years.

We've had so much rain that few of us had to use much water to keep our lawns and shrubbery green.  But as a result, the City of Lawton isn't bringing in as much revenue as usual that it depends on to pay its bills.

Last year, around this this time, the treatment plant was treating at least 27 million gallons a day.  This year, it's down to 18 million gallons a day.  That's the lowest the city has seen in years.

Most of the revenue comes from outside faucets that we use to water our lawns and gardens.  But lately, there hasn't been much use for that water source.

We're still using about the same amount of water inside the house.  It's the water that we have been using outside.  That's been the big difference.

Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Dave Herring says his crew is treating about a third less water than last time this year.  "Usually up to 26-27 million gallons a day. Now we're at 18 and a half million gallons a day. That's a pretty big difference,"  Herring said.

And that can be good.  It means a lot less chemicals are used.  Because there's been less treatment, the crews here had to aim their sights on other areas....like flood gate control.

Herring says even though less water has been treated, a different mixture of chemicals had to go in to take care of the overflow of waters that came in.  "A lot of turbidity (stirred up sediment and dirt). A lot of run off, stuff washed into the lake. It gives you more to take out of the lakes to clean up,"  Herring said.

He said about the only thing the city can do to make up for the loss is hope that the rest of this month through September will be a little dryer.

Councilman Keith Jackson says the lower water revenue is a concern, combined with a low carryover in money from last year's budget, plus the money they're spending on the waterline break. But he says, for now, there won't be any budget cuts or changes in services. Jackson did say they'll keep a close watch on those water numbers, and admitted they might need to make some budget changes later in the year, if things don't improve.