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Worst-case scenario


OKC officials roll out a possible water conservation plan in case of a brutally dry summer.

Tim Farley May 8th, 2013

If drought conditions worsen in Oklahoma City, homeowners won’t be mowing thick, lush lawns this summer.

Credit: Mark Hancock

Already, the city has implemented mandatory odd-even lawn watering, but even that could get more restrictive depending on the amount of rainfall received by OKC and its other water resources in southeastern and northwestern Oklahoma.

Recent rains have replenished a portion of the city’s water supply with lake capacity now at 56 percent, City Manager Jim Couch said.

But there’s still a need for a water conservation plan in case of a worst-case scenario this summer. As a result, the Oklahoma City Council last week approved a progressive, five-stage measure based on lake levels.

If lake capacities are 50 percent or less, the plan’s second stage will take effect. Using an irrigation system or a sprinkler device, homeowners with an address ending in an odd number could water lawns and landscaping on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Homeowners with addresses ending in an even number could water on Thursdays and Sundays. All other customer classifications could water lawns on Tuesdays and Fridays.

If lake levels drop to 45 percent or less, watering days are limited to once a week. Single-family homes with addresses ending in 1 or 3 would water on Saturdays while homes with addresses ending in 5, 7 or 9 would water Wednesdays.

Furthermore, addresses ending in 0 or 2 would water on Sundays, and homes with addresses ending in 4, 6 and 8 would water on Thursdays. Remaining property owners would be allowed to water on Fridays.

The plan, however, allows homeowners to use a hose and water by hand every day for the plan’s top three stages.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 50 percent of the water used to irrigate landscapes is wasted by spraying water at the wrong time of day, watering too much and spraying hardscapes.

“In Oklahoma City, that could be as much as 15 million gallons a day,” said Marsha Slaughter, utilities department director.

In the event lake levels drop to 40 percent or less, the plan bans all lawn watering and allows only hand-watering for gardens and flower beds.

Commercial car washes would be permitted to operate if they have water recycling system.

Stage five — the worst-case scenario with lake levels at 35 percent or less — would ban all outdoor watering and car washing.

“We’re hopeful we can get some nice rain in May and June. If that holds true, that will be beneficial to everyone,” said Debbie Ragan, spokeswoman for the OKC Utilities Department.

The current drought is the worst Oklahomans have witnessed since the 1950s, city officials said.


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