Stillwater News Press

Local News

August 3, 2012

Stillwater eyeing water conservation plan as drought, heat wear on

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater residents can expect a citywide water conservation plan soon, Stillwater Utility Authority Director Dan Blankenship said Thursday.

Tuesday, the city’s utility division asked residents west of Western Avenue and south of Lakeview Road to reprogram their sprinkler systems to finish at 2 a.m. to allow the city’s water towers to refill in time for peak morning use, Blankenship said.

Thursday, Blankenship said Water Utilities Director Anthony Daniels and his staff were developing a water conservation plan. He expected it to be announced no later than Friday.

Water supply isn’t usually a problem for Stillwater.

Stillwater Water Utilities customers use approximately 6 million gallons a day, but demand often doubles in summer as residents water lawns. Stillwater’s water treatment plant has the capacity to treat 18 million gallons per day.

Stillwater’s water distribution system is the culprit. Water pressure in southwest Stillwater has been inadequate in the summer the past two years. The city has taken steps to correct the problem.

Water also is a problem for Payne County’s farmers and ranchers. Some streams that have flowed steadily for 30 years have dried up, Payne County Extension Agent Nathan Anderson said. Some producers are hauling water to their acreage.

“Water supplies are limited,” Anderson said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly 75 percent of Oklahoma is in extreme drought. Just three months ago, only 3.27 percent of the state was in extreme drought — one zone away from the worst drought condition.

Stillwater Mesonet Climatological Station data shows the area received just 0.07 inches of rain in July. The station received 3.37 inches of precipitation from May 1 to July 30.

Temperatures eclipsed 100 degrees 18 of the 31 days in July. They soared above the century mark 14 of the last 15 days of the month. The only respite from triple digits came July 26 when the high was 99. The average high temperature in July was 101. The Stillwater reporting station reported three 100-degree or higher days in June.

Little rain and soaring temperatures are forcing some Payne County ranchers to thin cattle herds as they anticipate hay shortages and higher feed costs caused by the drought’s destruction of pastureland and corn crops across the Midwest. A number of hay bales have fallen victim to wildfires, adding another layer of concern.

“Hay yields have been half normal,” Anderson said. “Producers know how to manage their herds during a drought. Some are culling their herds.”

Consumers can expect to see higher food prices for the rest of 2012 because of the drought, Anderson said.

The Stillwater Utilities Authority and CREC report increased electricity use, but no brownouts or rolling blackouts caused by spikes in peak use.

Wildfires destroyed some CREC utility poles that caused blackouts that lasted up to five hours while the poles were repaired, CREC Communications Coordinator Larry Mattox said. Service was back to normal Thursday afternoon.

Monday’s wildfire also destroyed approximately six utility poles that helped the Stillwater Utilities Authority move electricity between substations to help accommodate peak loads, Blankenship said.

The electricity to the lines on those poles has been turned off while repairs are under way. It doesn’t affect any Stillwater customers — only the way the city manages electricity, he said.

“We had a 28-megawatt peak Wednesday. It’s about six megawatts less than our all-time peak,” Blankenship said.


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