Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 7, 2013

River to help with drought woes

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — There is still time for rains to come during 2013 and help remove restrictions for water use in Pauls Valley, but the latest steps to help preserve what’s available was set in motion earlier this week.

The method is not exactly a new idea, even considered during previous droughts like one in the 1980s, but would tap into the Washita River and redirect it to the PV’s Old City Lake, according to City Manager James Frizell.

The city has already received a permit from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and is only waiting on a memorandum of understanding from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality in order to begin the work.

“We are proposing to pump the water out of the river,” said Frizell. “Our only option is to pump it into the Old City Lake.”

Most of getting this plan going would include using existing pipeline and collection areas that already connect Longmire Lake and the Old City Lake to the water treatment plant and any pipe that would be laid around the river for supplementing supply would only be on a temporary basis, said Frizell.

If the city wanted to do something like this on a permanent basis they would have to put another plan together and seek approval again.

The process itself would basically bring in equipment and modify the pipe that would for a short time allow the city to shut off water going from the Old City Lake to the water plant and use that system to pump water from the river into the lake, said Frizell.

Some of the modification also comes at a convenient time since the city is already planning to move part of the water line due to a state bridge replacement project along state Highway 19 East that will have the line run under the river instead of along with the bridge as it does currently.

Filling the lake up would not be an overnight process since permission would only allow them to pump 477 gallons a minute into it and would take around 100 days to fill back up completely, said Frizell.

However, the plan is to fill it up to a level somewhere in-between where it is now and full with the plan to begin work no less than 30 days after they get final approval.

“We just need it to run to a point where we have enough water to pump it out,” said Frizell. “Most of the infrastructure is in place.”

Longmire during that time will be the source of water drawn from for drinking water until the Old City Lake reaches the desired level, said Frizell.

He added how recent elevation measurements by the Natural Resources Conservation Service show that while Longmire levels aren’t quite to where they can’t pump water to the water plant at around 12 feet below normal; enough of a continued drought wouldn’t take long to drop it to a point where it would create more problems.

If drought conditions continue or deteriorate further, Frizell noted that eventually restrictions would include shutting down businesses like car washes and guarantee that the new aquatics center would not open this summer.

He added that the pool still needs to be filled up to test equipment, but that it would not be a good example to ask people to not fill up their own swimming pools and then run one themselves.

“It will basically shut down to household use,” said Frizell. “We’d have no choice.”