Category: COWRA News

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Mustang News



Edition:Friday, April 23, 2010

Southeastern Oklahoma lawmakers sounded a familiar alarm this week as Oklahoma City and state officials continued negotiating for Lake Sardis' future.

Canadian County's water hunting trust, the Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority, has carefully watched negotiations on Lake Sardis for more than a year. COWRA participated with Oklahoma City, Moore, Shawnee, Norman, Edmond, Midwest City, Chickasha and Seminole to study the feasibility of piping water from Lake Sardis, and trust members have identified the lake as the best possible long-term source for Canadian County.

Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust was scheduled during an April 13 special meeting to consider an agreement with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to obtain Lake Sardis water supplies, but the meeting was canceled. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City trust met with that city's attorneys in executive session about the agreement, but no action was taken.

An hour before the Oklahoma City meeting, six southeast Oklahoma lawmakers held a press conference at the state Capitol, protesting any agreement to pipe water from the lake.

“Clearly this is another attempt to treat southeastern Oklahoma, rural Oklahoma, as though it was a third-world country,” said state Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant. “That is you take the raw resources out and take it somewhere else to turn into an value-added product, and not making sure that value is reinvested in the area from which that resource comes.”

Lake Sardis

While Lake Sardis was built in the 1970s, the state and federal government disputed payments for the reservoir's construction for decades until the issue was settled last September. Oklahoma is obligated to either pay $27.8 million by July 1, or pay the first of five annual payments of $5.27 million and yearly payments of $939,576 through 2024 for present water storage in the reservoir. Future water-use cost totaled $38.2 million, when the settlement was reached.

If a draft agreement is approved between Oklahoma City and state officials, the city would pay $42.8 million and OWRB would transfer all rights to the city water trust. OWRB would still issue water permits for the lake, and no water could be sold outside of Oklahoma.

The draft also shows Oklahoma City would be assigned 136,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Sardis, while the reservoir stores 156,800 acre-feet of water annually. An acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons.

The draft states the Oklahoma City trust's right to the water could be transferred if a “proposed central Oklahoma water supply trust” is formed and accepts the obligation. COWRA members have expressed interest in joining that trust.

However, Oklahoma City's trust has not taken action on this proposal, and that city's officials did not return phone calls before press time.

The Regional Raw Water Supply Study estimated it will cost $1 billion to install the new pipeline and pump stations to get the water to central Oklahoma, and another $300 million to $450 million to buy water rights. The study showed Oklahoma City's pipelines will be overburdened within 10 years and need will exceed water rights within 30 years.


Oklahoma's concerns

If Oklahoma City is eyeing Sardis as a water source for decades in the future, state Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, questioned the urgency of ongoing negotiations. He said the costs listed in the contract are only a fraction of the value of Lake Sardis' water and questioned if state leaders are pushing for the sale to cover the federal payment due July 1.

“It doesn't make sense to me to have a fire sale because we can't find $5.2 million,” Wilson said. “I think what will happen, if we look around we can find the principal. We have $150 million in the EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) fund, and I don't mind taking it out of that. The point is we shouldn't give up a property that is important to southeast Oklahoma without at least considering the value of it.”

State Sen. Jim Ellis, D- Valliant, said southeast Oklahoma leaders have been left out of Lake Sardis discussions and pointed out none of the 10 OWRB members live in his area. He said he wrote a letter in February to the governor's office protesting the negotiations and received no response.

“Home is where the heart is, and their heart is not where the water is,” he said. “I ask that southeastern Oklahoma should have at least one member at the board table. This alone is discrimination.”

The state determines water use, just as with other natural resources, and it is not a regional issue, said lobbyist Shawn Lepard, who represents COWRA. Many of these same concerns were voiced by southeast Oklahoma lawmakers in 2002 when COWRA attempted to buy water rights in the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, setting off a water moratorium and statewide study, which is nearly completed.

“I would say on behalf of COWRA, we are encouraged with the progress that has been made to this point on Sardis and the discussions,” he said. “The governor's office is the place that makes the decisions of who is involved and who isn't involved in those discussions, and so for the governor's office to exclude these folks is pretty telling.”

via Mustang News.

Oklahoma City’s water plans questioned |

Oklahoma City’s water plans questioned |

Problem solving hindered by provincial attitudes |

via Problem solving hindered by provincial attitudes |

eCapitol News

eCapitol News

OK-Legislators attempt to block sale, lease of Sardis Lake resources

Author: Justin Martino

Date: 04/20/2010

EXCLUSIVELY ON eCAPITOL (OK) Several legislators from southeastern Oklahoma are protesting a plan by Oklahoma City to purchase the water of Sardis Lake, saying the state should find funds to keep the lake until a statewide water study is finished.

Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, said he and other legislators just recently discovered the plans by accident.

Sardis Lake was the subject of a federal lawsuit over unpaid costs of construction of the lake by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A settlement was reached last year for more than $27 million, of which a payment of $5.2 million must be made by June 30.

Under the potential plan, Wilson said the water would be sold for $42 million. The most recent appraisal of the lake, in 1996, valued it at $75 million. Wilson said inflation alone would make the lake worth at least $100 million now.

“It doesn't make sense to me to have a fire sale because we can't find $5.2 million,” he said.

Wilson said the state could possibly look to other sources to find the necessary money, including the Economic Development Generating Excellence Fund or funds appropriated to higher education.

Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, said there are several aspects of the possible deal that are objectionable, including the price being offered despite not knowing the true value of the lake and the lack of representation in the area from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He noted that none of the board's nine members come from southeastern Oklahoma.

“Home is where the heart is, and their heart is not where the water is,” he said.

Ellis also said that the plan to sell the water in Sardis Lake is an example of the southeast part of Oklahoma being treated unfairly by the state.

“To transfer a valuable natural resource from a poor area to a rich area is nothing short of regional discrimination,” he said.

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, echoed Ellis' sentiment on the treatment of southeastern Oklahoma.

“Clearly, this is another attempt to treat southeastern Oklahoma and rural Oklahoma as though it were a third-world country,” Gumm said. “That is, in which you take the raw resources out and take it somewhere else to turn it into a value-added product, not making certain that the value for that resource is reinvested in the area from which that resource comes.”

Gumm also said he is bothered by the way the deal has been handled behind closed doors.

“There's an old saying that sunshine is a great disinfectant,” he said. “This is an issue that needs a lot of disinfecting because there's been virtually no sunshine in the process whatsoever.”

Ellis said he has attempted to contact Gov. Brad Henry about the issue, writing a letter in February expressing Wilson's opposition to any agreement to transfer water prior to completion of the Water Resources Board's statewide water study, but has yet to receive any response.

Wilson said legislators are “scrambling” to find $5.2 million for the payment due in June, but legislation has also been introduced to prevent the sale of the water in the lake. He said he hopes to move it through the Legislature.

SCR 56, by Ellis, Wilson, Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, and Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, demands that all parties refrain from entering a sales or lease agreement transferring Sardis Reservoir assets from Oklahoma to the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust or any other party before the completion of the update to the comprehensive water plan and an appraisal of the value of the water resources and facilities. The resolution also requires all meetings pertaining to the sale or lease of Sardis Reservoir resources be held in public with all governmental entities and citizens given equal representation in the process.

A similar measure, HCR 1061, by Renegar, Brown, Ellis and Wilson, was introduced in the House. The bill demands that all parties involved in the agreement to sell or lease Sardis Reservoir assets from Oklahoma to the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust refrain from taking further action on the agreement until the Oklahoma comprehensive water plan is complete and an appraisal of the value of the water is complete. The resolution also directs that all meetings pertaining to the issue of selling or leasing the water be open, public meetings. It also directs that any sale, lease or agreement relating to the transfer of the water resources address a proportional distribution of any monetary or economic benefits and proceeds resulting to all governmental entities and citizens.

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via eCapitol News.

Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic Rule

On January 22, 2001 EPA adopted a new standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb), replacing the old standard of 50 ppb.  The rule became effective on February 22, 2002.  The date by which systems must comply with the new 10 ppb standard is January 23, 2006.

The Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Contaminants Monitoring Final Rule was published in the Federal Register (66 FR 6976) on January 22, 2001.

Quick Reference Guide to Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Monitoring Rule

EPA 816-F-01-004

This document provides a simple and straightforward description of the rule, critical deadlines and requirements for drinking water systems and states, and information on monitoring requirements.

Drinking Water Standard for Arsenic Fact Sheet provides information on the potential health effects of exposure to arsenic, an overview of the Final Rule, and background information on the natural occurence of arsenic.

Technical Fact Sheet provides technical information about the Final Arsenic Rule including its requirements and compliance dates, the health effects associated with exposure to arsenic, the costs, benefits, and number of systems affected by the rule, and where to find additional information.

Read the Technical Fact Sheet online

Rule-Making History

EPA proposed arsenic regulations to revise the existing NPDWR on June 22, 2000 (65 FR 38888), which proposed a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 0.005 mg/L (5 μg/L). The October 2000 appropriations bill for EPA amended the SDWA, directing EPA to promulgate a final arsenic standard no later than June 22, 2001. The Final Rule, published on January 22, 2001, established the MCL at 0.01 mg/L (10 μg/L) (40 CFR 141.62(b)(16)). The Rule was to become effective on March 23, 2001, 60 days after publication. The Rule established that the 0.01 mg/L (10 μg/L) MCL becomes enforceable on January 23, 2006, and that the clarifications to compliance and new source contaminants monitoring regulations become enforceable on January 22, 2004 (40 CFR 141.6(j) & (k)).

Because of the importance of the Arsenic Rule and the national debate surrounding it related to science and costs, EPA's Administrator publicly announced on March 20, 2001, that the Agency  would take additional steps to reassess the scientific and cost issues associated with this Rule. EPA requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene a panel of scientific experts to review the Agency's interpretation and application of arsenic research, worked with its National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) to review the assumptions and methodologies underlying the Agency's estimate of arsenic compliance costs, and asked its Science Advisory Board (SAB) to look at the benefits associated with the Rule. On October 31, 2001, the EPA Administrator announced that the 10 ppb (0.010 mg/L) standard for arsenic would remain stating that, “the 10 ppb protects public health based on the best available science and ensures that the cost of the standard is achievable.”

See the Rule-making History page of this Web site for additional information and documents related to the history of the Arsenic Rule.


Kaw Lake no solution to Norman’s water needs

The Norman Transcript

April 2, 2010

Kaw Lake no solution to Norman’s water needs

By Andrew Knittle

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Getting water from Kaw Lake in northern Oklahoma isn’t a viable option for Norman residents, an engineering consultant said Thursday evening at the City’s seventh of eight public water forums.

Bryan Mitchell, a representative of the engineering firm hired to conduct a study for the dozen or so cities and municipalities looking to transport water from southeast Oklahoma, said Kaw Lake — which lies just east of Ponca City — is “too far” from Norman. He said Oklahoma City, which is leading the quest to suck more water out of the southeastern part of the state, already has a pipeline and necessary easements in place to allow for another waterline.

Assistant city attorney Kathryn Walker said Sardis Lake also has more water available than Kaw Lake, which has six cities on a waiting list to get water rights for it.

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said Wednesday that Kaw Lake was never looked at by Council before the City paid for its share of the study with Mitchell’s firm.

“We never discussed it as an option,” Rosenthal said. “It was never presented to us … we responded to what was in front of us.”

But Rosenthal also was quick to point out — both on Wednesday and during Thursday evening’s water forum — that Norman hasn’t really committed to anything yet.

“At any point, any city can withdraw,” she said. “All we’ve done is continue to keep our chips on the table, nothing more than that.”

At Thursday’s meeting, she stressed that Norman is looking at an array of water options to address its ever-growing need, including reuse of water, arsenic removal technology to reclaim existing wells and the drilling of new water wells in east Norman.

She also acknowledged that Oklahoma City, which built a pipeline to southeast Oklahoma decades ago, is the driving force behind the proposed trust.

“They’ve spent 60 years building and maintaining this pipeline … this is where they’re committed,” Rosenthal said. “We’re just playing catch-up at this point.”

During a water forum last month, Mitchell said the estimated cost of the massive pipeline project between the Oklahoma City area and southeast Oklahoma ranges from $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion. The City of Norman’s share, which is based on projected water needs, would be between $360 million and $420 million.

Mitchell said last month that residents should get used to big price tags when it comes to securing water, especially in the future.

“The days of inexpensive solutions are over,” Mitchell said. “You’re talking about a tremendous amount of money, but you’re also talking about one-third of the state’s population.”

Walker said negotiations for water rights at Lake Sardis are “ongoing” with the federal government, which Oklahoma City is heading up.

Andrew Knittle 366-3540

via Kaw Lake no solution to Norman’s water needs » The Norman Transcript.

Norman officials discuss future sources for water supply |

The Oklahoman
Published: February 6, 2010

NORMAN — Within 50 years, Norman will need double the amount of water it has now to meet the needs of its population, officials say.

“The time to start planning is now,” Utilities Director Ken Komiske said. “What are our water options? How will we meet the need for water as the city grows?”

Norman gets its drinking water supply from Lake Thunderbird, ground wells and, in emergencies, by buying water from Oklahoma City.

Future options include transporting water from Lake Sardis in southeastern Oklahoma, protecting and recharging the Garber-Wellington aquifer to maintain a healthy well-water supply and using recycled water, Komiske and other officials said.

The options were discussed Thursday night in the third of a series of public forums being held to discuss Norman’s future water needs.

John Harrington with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments’ water resources division said the Garber-Wellington aquifer is one of 23 bedrock aquifers in the state.

“And what’s going on in one isn’t necessarily what is going on in another,” he said. “Everybody thinks the aquifer is going dry. That’s not the case (with Garber-Wellington).”

The Garber-Wellington aquifer covers about 2,000 square miles and holds about 6 trillion gallons of water. While that sounds like a lot of water, Harrington said, not all of the water can be accessed. And the amount gets drawn down as it gets used for municipalities, agriculture and industry, he said.

When arsenic standards were raised in 2000, “that meant a whole lot of wells had to be shut down. With the stroke of a pen, the government wrote off half of your well supply.”

Norman just finished the first pilot program in Oklahoma testing a way to rehabilitate wells shut down because of high levels of arsenic, Komiske said. The program was so successful city council members have voted to make it a permanent solution for one well.

Consultant Michael Graves said the method involves injecting ferric oxide granules into the well site to absorb arsenic. The granules are then removed and discarded in a landfill.

Tracy Clinton, a water treatment expert with Arizona-based Carollo Engineers, said using recycled or reclaimed water for irrigation purposes and industrial uses can help to conserve a city’s drinking water supply.

Water reclaimed from wastewater also can be used for groundwater replenishment and can be recycled, treated and used as drinking water, she said.

Currently, Oklahoma’s laws prohibit using recycled water, Komiske said. Other states such as California and Arizona are pioneers in this field, he said.

via Norman officials discuss future sources for water supply |

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