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November 6, 2013

Duncan explores water supply options

DUNCAN — With a two-year drought continuing, the City of Duncan explored options to offset declining water caches at area lakes.

Scott Vaughn, Duncan Public Works director, presented five options to the Duncan City Council as part of a special meeting Tuesday. The options ranged from installing a larger pipeline from Lake Fuqua to pumping more water from Waurika Lake.

Because of the lack of rainfall, Waurika Lake is at 44 percent of the conservation pool. Based on rainfall patterns during the drought, Waurika Lake could continue to provide water to Duncan until about mid-2015.

Duncan’s two backup water sources, Lake Fuqua and Lake Humphreys, are down to 48 percent. Humphreys could keep Duncan in water for just more than a year. Fuqua would have a water supply for about 3 1/2 years.

“This is an item that’s pressing,” City Manager Jim Freda said. “There’s no way to forecast our problem. We can’t ignore this problem.”

Since about 2003, the City of Duncan has been using Waurika Lake as its primary water source. The city is unable to pump from Duncan Lake and Clear Creek Lake, and the cost to do so would be insurmountable, Vaughn said.

Vaughn and Freda have been in discussions about the water situation since February. But it wasn’t until September the water supplies at Fuqua and Humphreys dropped below 50 percent of capacity.

“Summer is where you lose most of your water to evaporation,” Vaughn said.

To respond to the declining water sources, Vaughn presented five options the City of Duncan could take, after being approved by the council, to ensure Duncan will have enough water for its residents.

The first option explored drilling wells near Lake Humphreys to fill that lake using existing drainage paths upstream. Vaughn said 40 or more wells would be needed and it would be difficult to maintain that many wells.

Additional land and easements would be needed. The project would take about 18 months to complete and would cost upwards of $3.75 million.

The second option focused on drilling a well or wells and installing a pipeline to supplement the drinking water supply. The best underground water would be about 19 miles from the water treatment plant.

New land and easements would be needed. It would take about two or more years to complete, and it would cost more than $11 million to do.

The third option would be to install a larger pipeline from Lake Fuqua. This would allow the city to pump more water to respond to the demand.

“This is the best long-term option, but it’s also the most expensive,” Vaughn said.

The project, which could use existing easements for parts of the route, could take larger than two years and would cost upwards of $13 million.

The fourth option was to use Clear Creek and Duncan lakes to supplement raw water supply. Vaughn said this would be another reliable long-term supply option.

It would require the need for additional pumps and pipelines, but it would use existing land and easements. It would take a year or less to complete and would cost about $2 million.

“This spreads the demand over four lakes, five if you consider Waurika,” Vaughn said.

The final proposed option was to pump additional water from Waurika Lake to refill Lake Humphreys. In this option, the City of Duncan would pump it’s daily allowance of water, some to its customers, some to Lake Humphreys.

The council said the City of Lawton did something similar to ensure its water supply. If Duncan did this, it would take about 1 1/2 years to return Humphreys back to normal. It would take about a year or less to complete the project and would cost about $600,000, most of which would be in construction.

“If we take the same approach as Lawton took, we’ll run Waurika dryer much quicker,” Vaughn said.

He also said the time to take action to maintain Duncan’s water supply is fast approaching.

“That time is coming where we’ll wish we had done something if we don’t do something soon,” Vaughn said.

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