The Duncan Banner

March 14, 2013

Water rationing law set for Duncan

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —  

Duncan City Council approved an amendment to the city code on Tuesday, designating conditions for water rationing, stages of water rationing and penalties for violation of the codes.
“Pray for rain,” Mayor Gene Brown said.
The measure was taken as the city is preparing for another year of drought conditions. With the short supply of rain the past few years, city administrators believe it is necessary for the procedures to be put in place should water rationing be needed.
Before the city begins water rationing, they will give the public 72 hours notice by publishing it in The Duncan Banner. If it is not possible for this amount of notice to be given, the city shall place a copy of the proclamation, signed by the mayor in 10 prominent places around town such as city hall, the police department, the library, the Simmons Center and the Stephens County Courthouse.
Should there be a sudden or unexpected event that reduces the availability of water or water pressure that creates an immediate threat to public health or safety, the notice will be given by any reasonable means and the water rationing will be in full force.
There are four stages to the accepted city code, three of which are mandatory while the first level is voluntary.
“Voluntary restrictions would go into effect when either the demand on the water plant is 90 percent of capacity for 14 consecutive days or the combined municipal capacities of Lake Humphreys and Waurika Lake reaches a level of 75 percent,” Public Works Director Scott Vaughn said. “We have wrestled with this a long time and we wanted to be careful. We wanted to be diligent so we have also included a provision that if either of those lakes reached that condition the stage one restrictions may be declared.”
City Manager Jim Frieda asked that should the city declare a need for voluntary water rationing that the public be diligent in participating.
“That is going to be pretty vital in staying at that voluntary stage and not moving to that mandatory stage,”  he said.
Should the average daily water usage reach 95 percent of the plant capacity for seven consecutive days or the municipal combined storage of Lake Humphreys and Waurika Lake reach 60 percent or less, stage two of water rationing will be declared. It may also be declared if either Lake Humphreys or Waurika Lake alone reach 60 percent or less.
Stage two water rationing would limit the times when outside watering could be done. Watering would only be allowed between midnight and 9 a.m. every other day from March 1 to Oct. 31 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1 through Feb. 29.
“If your address ends in even numbers, you water on even days,” Vaughn said. “If your address ends in odd numbers you water on odd days.”
Should conditions worsen to 98 percent of the plant capacity for three consecutive days or if the combined municipal storage of Lake Humphreys and Waurika lake reaches a percentage of 50 percent or less, stage three of water rationing will be declared. This stage may also be declared if either lake reaches 50 percent or less.
This stage will only allow users to water outside between midnight and 9 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays only from March 1 to Oct. 31 and between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1 to Feb. 29.
If the daily water usage reaches 100 percent for two consecutive days or if the municipal storage of Lake Humphreys or Waurika Lake reaches a percentage of 40 percent or less, stage four of the code will be declared.
Stage four prohibits any outside watering.
These stages will only be terminated or reduced to a lower level upon proclamation by the city manager. Anyone found in violation of stage two, three or four will be subject to fines or other penalties.
Under stage two or three, the first offense is punishable by a $100 fine plus court costs. The second offense raises the fine to $150 plus court costs and a third offense raises the cost to $250 plus court costs.
The first violation of stage four shall be punishable by a fine of $250 plus court costs. A second violation will ensue a fine of $500 plus court costs while a third fine will get a guilty party a $750 fine or 30 days in jail. 
There are no fines for stage one as it is voluntary rationing.
“I am not sure we can make our point any more strongly,” Frieda said.
Frieda said Lawton and Wichita Falls both have similar ordinances in place.
“I think it is prudent to have these restrictions in place,” Frieda said. “We think it is prudent to give sufficient notice so they can take part in any restrictions we set in place.”
Vaughn said the three lakes that are being monitored are all in excess of 50 percent at this time. Lake Fuqua has the most water with about 60 percent.
Council member Ritchie Dennington said the decision to declare water rationing would not be made lightly as not only would it inconvenience Duncan residents, it will also have some affect on the city’s income.
It is not known when these declarations will be made as it depends partly on the public’s water usage and the amount of rain that Duncan receives over the next year.
The council was also expected to look at amending code provisions for the sale or discharge of raw water from Lake Fuqua. However, that item was withdrawn from the proposal and is expected to be discussed at the March 26 meeting.