Oklahoma City Follows Norman Down the Road to Wastewater Reuse

BY LOGAN LAYDEN, StateImpact, NPR, 7/2/14

The City of Norman faced a choice last month, meet future municipal water needs by partnering with Oklahoma City to pipe more water from southeast Oklahoma, or treat its wastewater to the point that it can be used again.

As StateImpact reported, Norman went with the more self-reliant reuse plan. Now, as The Oklahoman‘s William Crum reports, Oklahoma City getting into the reuse game as well:

The Water Utilities Trust on Tuesday agreed to a five-year, $1 billion plan that includes work on a second pipeline to ship drinking water from southeast Oklahoma, steps to integrate separate parts of the water distribution system, and improvements to enable reuse of water from Oklahoma City’s Deer Creek wastewater treatment plant.

Treated wastewater would be of a consistently higher quality than the variable river water feeding Lake Hefner, said Marsha Slaughter, the utilities director.

Oklahoma City’s plan still includes a new pipeline from southeast Oklahoma, which isn’t a popular idea for many people in that part of the state. Work on the pipeline is expected to start in 2017, the paper reports.

But the city’s five-year plan reuse, too, though not before 2018.

Water circulated through the system would be treated at Lake Hefner, flow to customers, and then be flushed to the Deer Creek treatment plant.

There, wastewater would be treated and returned to Lake Hefner via transmission pipes and the canal between Lake Overholser and Hefner.

StateImpact reported a recent public meeting in Yukon, J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, “said the public shouldn’t be disgusted by the thought of drinking wastewater, because many already are.”

“One of the things I tell people when we’re having discussions in the Oklahoma City metro area, and people want to talk about, ‘that’s gross’, or ‘I’m not drinking somebody’s wastewater’, usually I tell them, ‘you are drinking somebody’s wastewater,’” Strong told the audience. “You’re drinking El Reno’s wastewater right now, because they discharge their wastewater into the North Canadian and it runs right down here into Overholser.”


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