“We had a tree we planted 50 years ago die on us,” Hensley said. “We lost a great shade tree, but we’re just trying to do our part.”
In Glencoe, longtime resident and town clerk Shelly Andrews began conserving about three years ago.
“We lost a lot of outdoor plants. We turn off the faucets whenever we’re brushing our teeth or washing our hands, she said. “Whenever I clean out the dog’s water bowl, I always dump the dirty water into a plant vase.”
Motive to Save
Tracy Boyer, a conservation expert and an associate professor in agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, is overseeing an honor student’s study of the district, focusing on Glencoe.
“We looked at non-paid and paid incentives,” Boyer said. “We’ve found that people will generally voluntarily cut back on their water usage as long as there is publicity to remind them. But once those promotional campaigns begin to fade, people fall back into their old habits.”
“Ultimately, Boyer said, “the best way for people to conserve water is when it hits them financially.”
The Lone Chimney association has raised its water rates twice in the past two years to spur conservation. The association plans to raise them again to help pay for the pipeline. The district also has imposed surcharges on the first 1,000 and 2,000 gallons consumed.
Such hikes could be in store for many other Oklahomans if the drought continues. Oklahoma City is studying whether to charge higher water rates for consumers who use above-normal amounts.
The state also has made conservation a priority. Last year, the Legislature approved the Water for 2060 Act, which sets a goal that Oklahoma consume no more fresh water in 2060 than was consumed in 2012.