NPR Story
2:24 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

OKC Steps Up Water Conservation Effort, Levying Fines and Giving Skeptics Hope

A grounded boat dock at Canton Lake, where Oklahoma City got billions of gallons of water in early 2013.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A grounded boat dock at Canton Lake, where Oklahoma City got billions of gallons of water in early 2013.

The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust has taken a lot of criticism the past few years over how it’s gone about securing enough water to meet the city’s needs.

Efforts to import more water from southeast Oklahoma have been met with stiff resistance there, and the OCWUT isn’t very popular in Canton, Okla., either, after Oklahoma City drained billions of gallons of water from Canton Lake for its own use earlier this year.

One of the biggest complaints StateImpact has heard from residents in Canton and southeast Oklahoma: Oklahoma City should conserve the water it has before taking it from them.

And according M. Scott Carter’s story in The Journal Record, the OCWUT says it took those complaints to heart and it’s Progressive Water Conservation Program — which started in May — is proof:

Under the program, water conservation is mandatory all year. Residents whose address numbers end in an even number may water their yards on even-numbered days, while those whose house numbers end in an odd number may water on odd-numbered days, said Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust spokeswoman Debbie Ragan.

The program also includes hefty fines ranging from $202 to $612 for violations.

Ragan told the paper that, since May, almost 700 citations have been issued and more than 1,000 customers contacted about the conservation program.

“We’ve always promoted water conservation,” she said, “but this year we’ve really ramped it up.”

But State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, a staunch opponent of OKC’s move to pipe water from Sardis Lake, is like many others who are against the plan: Hopeful, but skeptical as well:

“They may be for real,” Ellis said. “Hopefully they have finally realized that the cheapest water is found with conservation. Then from there, they can look at other things.”

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Oklahoma. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/.