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January 10, 2014

City may need stricter water restrictions

DUNCAN — Duncan may have to enact more stringent water restrictions if the city’s water supply continues to decline at its current rate, Mayor Gene Brown said Thursday.

“If we don’t get rain, we may have stricter restrictions,” Brown said in remarks to the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its monthly breakfast. “On the good side, water usage is down.”

Even though rainfall increased last year, Duncan’s main water source, Waurika Lake, stands at 41.8 percent capaity while Lake Fuqua is at 47 percent and Lake Humphreys is at 48 percent, Brown said.

The 2013 rainfall total for Duncan was 28.34 inches, an increase of more than 5 inches from 2012’s total precipitation of 23.06 inches, according to measurements compiled by The Duncan Banner, which are sent to the National Weather Service in Norman.

 The 2013 rainfall was also up nearly 9 inches from 2011’s total of 19.4 inches.

But even with an increase in rainfall, Brown said drought conditions from previous years have prevented Duncan’s water supplies from rebounding.

By the end of September last year, the city water restrictions to Stage 3, which reduced outside watering to a set time table Wednesdays and Saturdays. Through the end of February, people can water outside between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on those two days. Beginning in March, the times will change from midnight to 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The city enacted Stage 3 restrictions after water levels in Fuqua and Humphreys lakes dropped below 50 percent capacity.

The Duncan City Council is in discussions with the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation Board to split the half-cent sales tax, which must be approved every five years by Duncan voters to continue.

 If it is continued, the half-cent sales tax could help the city increase its water supply.

The tax, which was initially voted on in 1994, is intended for an April 1 vote this year. Brown said the council and the DAEDF board have been working on language pertaining to the sales tax, and the council will most likely approve the election resolution during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

If the tax is approved by voters, half will got toward economic development and half with the city to go toward street improvements and increase in water supply.

“This is a great step in a direction we think will work for the City of Duncan,” Brown said. “We have to have water, and we have to have streets to drive on.”

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