The Duncan Banner

July 31, 2013

More discussions likely on Waurika Lake reductions

Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — City Manager Jim Frieda says he wants to ensure that Duncan is treated equitably under a proposed 10-percent reduction in water that Duncan and five other cities draw from Waurika Lake.

 The Waurika Master Conservancy District decided last week to seek an across-the-board reduction in water tapped from the lake, basing the 10-percent cuts on consumption in 2011 and 2012.

 District Manager Dave Taylor said Tuesday that contrary to some media reports, the district did not order Duncan and the other five cities to make the reductions.

 He said the six cities verbally agreed to discuss the proposed reductions, which are being sought to conserve water given drought conditions that largely have persisted for more than two years.

 The district could lawfully impose restrictions, but Taylor said that is not the way they want to operate.

 “All the cities have to agree to it,” Taylor said. “We’re not going to force it down anyone’s throat.”

 Frieda said he is all for conserving water and protecting Waurika Lake, he just wants to make sure Duncan is treated fairly in any agreement reached.

 He said Duncan already has been drawing much less water from the lake than usual and should not face the same percentage cut as cities that might be drawing close to their maximum allowable rates.

 “We say kudos if everyone agrees to reduce their intake from Waurika Lake by 10 percent, but we’ve already been involved in taking less than we were allocated,” Frieda said.

 The other cities that draw drinking water from Waurika Lake are Comanche, Lawton, Temple, Walters and Waurika.

 Three of the cities - Lawton, Walters and Temple - temporarily stopped using water from the lake because of a water line break.

 Duncan has only been taking approximately one-third of its allocation in recent months. It has not chosen to draw water from Waurika to help fill two Duncan  lakes _ Humphreys and Fuqua - because more water would be lost to evaporation.

 Frieda also said it was the philosophy of Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn that transferring water to Duncan’s own, smaller lakes would only deplete water from an already struggling Waurika Lake.

 “There is going to be further discussion because if somebody is taking 95 percent of their allocation and then taking a 10-percent reduction, and we are only taking a third and have a 10-percent reduction, then obviously we are taking a bigger hit,” he said.

 Taylor said Lawton in recent months has been taking the biggest share of its allocations - about 60 percent - but no city is close to taking their maximum.

 He also said rains in the past week have bumped up Waurika’s water level by about a foot - a nice jump. That and more rains could change the discussion entirely, he said.

 Vaughn said Tuesday that about a week ago, Waurika had dropped to 44 percent of its capacity. Thanks to rains, it was at 48 percent as of late Monday.

 Duncan has had restrictions on outside water use since May 9. It came close to imposing stricter restrictions a few weeks ago before three days of rain moved across the area.