By BOB LEWIS
As strange as it may sound after record spring rainfall and persistent flooding problems, city officials warn that water rationing may be necessary in Broken Arrow this summer. It all depends on what Mother Nature has in store for the area.
The city says residents use an average of about 13 million gallons of water per day (MGD); but in the summertime, that figure climbs to over 24 MGD. Highest monthly water usage generally occurs in July, August and September due primarily to the need for more frequent watering of lawns and landscaping. This causes stress to the water supply and, if not properly managed, can lead to a shortage.
To deal with this reality, in 2016, the city council adopted a Water Conservation Plan to help make sure all our citizens will be able to receive water, even if supply is low.
The plan contains three triggering stages. Stage One is a time when the probability of a water shortage exists and continues to rise. It calls for voluntary cutbacks in water use, lawn watering on an alternate day schedule and concentration of watering times during evening hours when demand is normally the lowest.
Stage Two is triggered when daily water demand for three consecutive days is in excess of 95 percent of availability and/or the storage system is unable to recover about 70 percent of its capacity by 5 a.m. During these times, voluntary actions requested in Stage One become mandatory.
Stage Three goes into effect during emergency situations caused by falling water pressure, continuing demand in excess of capacity and the storage system’s inability to recover about 60 percent by 5 a.m. During these times, all non-essential residential use is banned.
If any of these stages need to be put into place, citizens will receive an automated call from the city manager. Notices will also be posted in local newspapers, on the city website and its social media sites.
Broken Arrow’s main water supply comes from its Verdigris River Water Treatment Plant which produces approximately 19 MGD. The city recently completed construction of a second supplemental water connection with the City of Tulsa. This new connection, when needed, will provide Broken Arrow with an additional five million gallons of water a day while the plant is at peak production. In addition, the primary water connection with Tulsa is capable of providing up to four MGD.
The total combined water delivery from both the plant and Tulsa is approximately 28 MGD, above traditional demand, but close enough to dictate careful attention and handling.