Oklahoma Counties In Danger Of Running Out Of Water

Sunday, November 12th 2006, 3:13 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma’s severe drought could leave 16,000 Green Country residents without water.

Pawnee County Officials have declared a state of emergency, they say the lake that supplies water to the region will dry up by January if they don’t take immediate action.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright says this doesn’t just affect Pawnee County, four communities get their water from the lake.

"As many as 16,000 people face being out of water very soon," said Lone Chimney Water Association worker Paul Kinder. In his 25 years on the job, Paul Kinder says he has never experienced a drought as severe as the one Pawnee County is currently dealing with.

Due to a lack of rainfall over the past two years, Lone Chimney Lake is quickly drying up. The lake provides drinking water to 12 rural water districts in Pawnee, Noble, Lincoln, and Payne Counties. Usually 10 to 14 feet deep, it is now 9½ feet below its normal level. "It's just been bad. We don't have any rainfall, and the rainfall we've got has been spotty," said Darrel Clark with the Lone Chimney Water Association.

The Water Association says the area could soon run out of water. That reality has prompted Pawnee County to declare a state of emergency, and ask the State of Oklahoma and the federal government for help.

"We've got I'm gonna say about 50 days of water left if we use it at the level we're using it right now," Clark said. The Water Association says there are ways to avoid that though. It would use federal funding to buy a floating pump barge that would pump more water from the lake into the treatment plant. The money would also go towards long-term solutions, such as piping in water from Stillwater.

But with the level of Lone Chimney Lake dropping by an inch a day, time is of the essence.