Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 1, 2013

Water restrictions prompt questions

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Restrictions on outdoor water use made official a little over a month ago in Pauls Valley has for the most part been accepted as a reasonable sacrifice to make as a result of the ongoing drought.

However, though many are willing to cut back on how much water they use, some concerns and questions still remain and were brought before the city council at the most recent meeting. Much of it focused on whether or not there would be any exceptions to the temporary rules which effectively ban any outdoor watering use from filling up swimming pools to watering lawns.

Some of the early questions by residents focused on those who might have small flower boxes or gardens and not do much watering to begin with other than that and if they could continue without incurring severe penalties. City Manager James Frizell noted that while it would not make the rules effective to allow any sort of exceptions to the system in place, the penalties themselves are in many ways meant to go after those whose normal water use is exceeded to the point where it makes a big jump from one meter reading to the next.

According to Frizell, said penalties start out with a warning, then proceed to a $250 fine with that total doubling after the third offense and subject to having their water service turned off with a fourth offense.

However, because the water bill will be the most common way to assess whether violations are taking place, he noted someone carrying a gallon or two from inside their house to water a few things outside is not going to be missed as much as a flagrant violation where a large increase occurs.

Other inquiries asked if the city is still selling water to communities outside Garvin County or entities like oil companies and Frizell answered how that was cut off as soon as the restrictions were put in place. He reminded those in attendance the aquatics center next to the rec center will be filled up once in order to test all the equipment when construction is finished, but that it will not open unless significant rainfall comes and the water from the test will be stored until it can be used again.

“Overall we’re in a serious condition right now,” said Frizell.

An example of someone who owns a business and is not under the restrictions, but has noted impact nonetheless was Melissa Koesler, owner of Blooming Crazy along South Chickasaw Street. She noted how she has not sold as many plants this spring as she might normally and though she can water them there, people aren’t buying as much since they are unable to guarantee they will have a garden.

Residents in attendance also discussed suggestions for overcoming a lack of water for outdoor use, including collecting what rain does fall in runoff barrels.

Frizell noted one alternative people can use utilizes the water leftover from uses like when one takes a shower and only needs a process already set up by the Department of Environmental Quality to make it happen.

“DEQ last year approved residents to allow to apply their drain water, you can actually disconnect your drain water and put it in a separate holding tank and you can water and irrigate with your drain water,” said Frizell, adding that the bumpouts downtown are also not being watered in order to conserve. “The only caveat is you can’t allow runoff.”