The Duncan Banner

April 25, 2014

Rain boosted local lakes but water concerns remain

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Recent rainfall boosted Duncan’s lake levels, including a three-inch rise in Lake Fuqua, but the water volume in Waurika Lake continues to decline, a top city official told local emergency managers on Thursday.

Scott Vaughn, Duncan’s director of Public Works, discussed water conservation efforts by the City of Duncan and the possible move to stricter rationing during a Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting.

Duncan is under Stage 3 water rationing, which restricts outdoor watering from midnight to 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. If Waurika Lake or Lake Humphreys drops below 40 percent capacity, the City of Duncan will move to stricter Stage 4 water rationing, which would prohibit all outdoor watering.

The Duncan City Council and City Manager Jim Frieda have discussed the possibility of waiting until July to impose stricter rationing should it become necessary, but have not made a decison yet.

As of Thursday, Lake Fuqua was at 44 percent capacity, Lake Humphreys was at 47 percent capacity and Waurika Lake was at 40.2 percent capacity. These are the three lakes Duncan has the ability to pump water from, although the city mostly uses Waurika Lake.

“I’m hoping we get enough rain that we don’t have to go to Stage 4,” Vaughn said. “As it’s written, if Waurika Lake drops below 40 percent, we have to go to Stage 4.”

Recent rainfall may convince the City Council to reconsider a move to Stage 4.

“Lake Fuqua came up three inches with the rain we had this weekend,” Vaughn said. “We are in a typically wet time of year.”

The Duncan area is usually not considered to be in a severe drought because of rainfall during 2013 and 2014. In fact, 2013 was at an average rainfall.

However, it was the two years before 2013 that created the depleted water levels. Vaughn said the lack of rain between 2011 and 2012 put Duncan 30 inches behind in rainfall. Average years help to maintain, but don’t make up for the lack of rainfall.

“We’re still 30 inches behind,” Vaughn said. “The rain we’ve had so far hasn’t had much impact on the lake levels.”

Through conservation efforts, Duncan residents reduced the amount of water used during the summer of 2013.

On average, about 9 million gallons of water is used daily during the summer. In 2013, the daily summer rate was down to 6 million gallons.

“Citizens of Duncan have really responded well,” Vaughn said.

 He noted other communities are in worse circumstances, including several towns with lake levels below 20 percent capacity.

Dallas has gone into severe water rationing, leading some residents to change their lawnscapes to rock gardens and rock/brick lawns.

“While we’re still better off than other communities, it’s still important to conserve water,” Vaughn said.

“It’s a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Things can get real dire if we don’t get rain. If you pray, pray for rain.”