By John Filonow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Lone Chimney Lake is approximately 11 feet lower than normal and could go dry before a water pipeline to Stillwater is completed, said J.J. Dooley, water treatment plant supervisor for the Lone Chimney Water Association.
The lake is measured once or twice a month. It has been losing an inch to an inch and a half of depth per day, Dooley said.
If the drought persists, the lake won’t be able to provide water to surrounding communities — approximately 16,000 people, Dooley said.
Lone Chimney Water Association Chairman Darrel Clark said the association provides water to Pawnee, Morrison, Glencoe, Yale, Agra, Terlton and several rural water districts.
Construction on a pipeline to Stillwater’s water treatment plant to supplement the water supply is schedued to start Wednesday, Dooley said.
The association received a $3.355 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in September to build the pipeline.
In June, the Stillwater Utilities Authority and the Lone Chimney Water Association signed a 30-year contract that allows the association to purchase at least 2 million gallons a month. The association will pay at least $85,000 annually to Stillwater for water.
Dooley said pipeline construction would be completed in six to eight months. The lake will dry up before the pipeline is completed unless there is rain.
“If we don’t slow down on usage, the lake won’t make it,” Dooley said.
Dooley said the association has raised the price of the water it sells to the communities.
The association has also asked all its districts to reduce use by 40 to 50 percent, Clark said.
Yale Mayor Terry Baker said the city has not started water rationing, but water rates have been tripled with the idea it would encourage residents to conserve.
The rate hike went into effect in November. Baker said there have been complaints from residents.
Baker said his water bill is approximately $60 a month, where it had been $20 before.
If Yale can’t get water from the association, the city will have to resort to wells, Baker said.
The city has three wells south of the Cimarron River, he said.
The city would have to receive permission from the Department of Environmental Quality to use them, Baker said.
“I don’t think they’re going to tell us no,” Baker said.
Yale has borrowed $750,000 from a bank to put in its own water treatment plant, Baker said. Yale will seek construction bids next month.
Mark Porter, water superintendent for the city of Glencoe, said city officials asked residents to voluntarily conserve this summer.
The city has seen a slight water rate increase of 3 to 5 percent, Porter said.
If the city doesn’t get water from the association, people will have to start using wells that haven’t been used in 30 years, Porter said.
He said the wells probably wouldn’t be enough to supply water to Glencoe.
He said he has been looking at grants from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and seeking Payne County Emergency Management’s help by sending water trucks.
Payne County Emergency Management Director Jeff Kuhn said the county was looking into private companies bring drinking water to Glencoe.
Glencoe has a water tower which would provide water for four to six hours when filled, Kuhn said.
Porter said Glencoe isn’t in a state of emergency as of yet, but if the pipeline isn’t finished and the lake goes dry it could be.
“It’s time to be prepared, it could go either way,” Porter said.