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The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is advising users of a Delaware County water system to boil water before consuming it after E. coli was found in the water system.

DEQ said Wednesday it's notifying users of the Red Dirt Public Water Supply to inform residents that they should boil water for at least one minute or use bottled water for consumption, food preparation, brushing teeth and washing dishes.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla. 2) addresses attendees during the 2014 Governor's Water Conference while U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla. 3) and U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla. 5) look on.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin / Facebook

The annual Governor’s Water Conference continues Thursday in downtown Oklahoma City.

Wednesday water experts and authorities discussed crop use and what Las Vegas could teach Oklahoma about resource management.

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong says the state is learning to adapt to this new – and dry – normal.

Pennie Embrey / Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy

Members of the House Utility and Environmental Regulation Committee heard outlines Tuesday of different ways to address Oklahoma’s water needs.

Oklahoma Water Resource Board Executive Director J.D. Strong and Deputy Secretary of Environment Tyler Howell suggested a broadly based approach, while former OWRB Executive Director and Environmental Federation of Oklahoma President Jim Barnett told committee members greater infrastructure spending should be considered, but not at the exclusion of other ideas such as conservation and reuse.

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Duncan’s water supplies are already in bad shape because of the drought. Lake Waurika — Duncan’s main water source — is only about 32 percent full, and city officials are beginning to look toward groundwater as a lake levels continue to drop.

And if it weren’t enough for water supplies to be stretched to their limits, now the water itself is contaminated.

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An environmental researcher says Oklahoma could benefit by learning how developing countries address water security issues as demand grows and scientists warn of drier years ahead.

The Oklahoman reports that Jim Chamberlain, staff researcher at the University of Oklahoma's Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center, spoke Friday at the center's annual Water Symposium.

Chamberlain says the water situation in Oklahoma has more in common with that in the developing world than might be obvious.

Cleveland, Oklahoma — population 3,200 — relies on a small reservoir southwest of the city for its water, despite being located on the banks of the Arkansas River.

And a water crisis is brewing there. But the problem can’t be blamed on crumbling pipelines, an obsolete treatment plant, or drought — though more rain is needed. The problem is silt. The Cleveland Reservoir is nearly 80 years old.

Mason Bolay climbs into the cab of a tractor on his family's farm near Perry, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine calls it a power grab by an imperial president. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas says it would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for famers and ranchers in Oklahoma.

Al Jazeera Plus produced a 10-minute video on Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which included interviews with worried residents and activists and explored some of the science that has linked the seismic surge to wastewater disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry. 

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Insufficient rains and increasing demand put enormous pressure on Oklahoma’s water resources both on the surface and underground. But it’s also hard to overstate the role evaporation plays in the drought.

The oil and gas industry has been part of the problem, storing tens of millions of gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process in large, open pits, leaving it to be ravaged by evaporation until the water is needed.

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.

Estimates say Duncan’s main water source — Lake Waurika — could be too low to use by 2016.