August 6, 2008

Pump Breaks, Local Officials Urge Water Conservation

By Carol Cole-Frowe, The Norman Transcript, Okla.

Aug. 6--A pump break has reduced the amount of water being pumped from Lake Thunderbird and resulted in City of Norman officials urging residents and businesses to conserve water until the pump is repaired -- probably in about two days.

Electrical components on the pump burned out about noon Tuesday at the plant of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District, said Ken Komiske, city utilities director. COMCD supplies Lake Thunderbird water to Norman, Midwest City and Del City.

"We're not in dire straits," he said. "But nobody likes surprises ... we're in a position where we don't want anything else to break."

Komiske is urging all non-essential water use be curtailed, although he said the city does not intend to implement water rationing at this time. The City previously had requested residents to go to an odd-even watering schedule, with residents and businesses at odd-numbered addresses watering on odd-numbered days and the same for even-numbered.

"If you don't have to use it outside, please don't," he said.

Komiske said Norman water customers are normally very conscientious when asked to help and that's why he doesn't feel that mandatory rationing is necessary at this time.

"But we wanted everybody to know (they could help)."

With triple digit heat, Norman residents have been using up to 24 million gallons daily.

The City of Norman gets about 14 mgd from Lake Thunderbird, which has been reduced to 12 mgd. About 4 mgd comes from its water wells, supplemented by purchase of several million gallons of treated water daily from the City of Oklahoma City at $4.06 per thousand.

By comparison, water use is about 11.5 mgd in January.

Komiske said this pump breakdown is not as serious as the situation in July 2006 when the 72-inch water main that transports water to Moore and Norman broke.

He said Norman is buying an average of 5 mg daily from Oklahoma City. Water was purchased 17 of the past 18 days, with the exception of July 29 when there was light rain and water usage dropped to 18 mgd total.

"(Tuesday) we had rain that enabled us to turn off Oklahoma City for one day," Komiske said.

Despite the hot weather, Lake Thunderbird's pool elevation is at 1,038.7 feet as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, with 117,800 acre-feet of water in storage. The conservation pool is 98.3 percent full, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site. Elevation at the top of the conservation pool is 1,039 feet.


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