water

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.

The dam at Lake Ellsworth in January 2014.
duggar11 / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, the city council in Duncan discussed moving to Stage 4 water rationing, which would limit outdoor watering to just one day per week. Now, officials in Lawton are instituting tougher city-wide water restrictions.

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

This is the final part of StateImpact Oklahoma’s series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Here are parts one, two, and three.

Debbie Doss, conservationist for the Arkansas Canoe Club, stands on Natural Dam a few hundred feet upstream from Lee Creek in northwest Arkansas.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A narrow rock wall holds back all but a couple of tiny waterfalls that sneak through cracks and flow into Lee Creek. This natural dam is so unique a nearby town in northwest Arkansas was named for it.

Pages