Families Struggle With Increased Costs As Bartlesville Implements Stricter Water Rules

People in Bartlesville have been dealing with ongoing water restrictions. One mom and dad with five kids told us they're overwhelmed as prices and outside temperatures get higher.

Tuesday, June 13th 2023, 10:22 pm


People in Bartlesville have been dealing with ongoing water restrictions. It comes as temperatures are starting to climb.

The city is charging people more money if they don't conserve enough water and that's tough for bigger families.

One mom and dad with five kids told us they're overwhelmed.

Ashley Martin has four little boys and a newborn baby girl. She said her water bill has nearly doubled in the past few years.

“Our water bill when we first moved here in 2020 was probably like $80 a month maybe and we’re easily paying about $130 to $140 now,” said Ashley Martin, Bartlesville resident.

Ashley said no matter how much they cut back on their water usage, it's still not enough.

“We’ve done stuff like reduce the amount of baths we’re taking. You know, like my younger two bathe together. We like definitely have shortened it. There’s a timer. You know, in and out basically. Scrub your hot spots type thing. You know, we’ve reduced laundry and we’ve set days," said Ashley. "[L]ike we’re definitely over and there’s no way to escape that. There’s no way for us to get under it, like it’s not reasonable.”

The city said it has less than 59-percent of its water supply remaining and it needs to be at least 70-percent.

“Hulah is our lowest at 44-percent. Copan is 56-percent. Our lake, Hudson Lake is roughly 62-percent. And then the Caney River is 100-percent,”  said Terry Lauritsen, Director of Water Utilities.

The city is in Stage 3 drought restrictions and that includes limiting outdoor watering to one day a week and fining people who use too much water.

"We have what’s called an inclining block water rate structure. So, the more water you use, the more expensive it gets. And so, starting at 2,000 gallons the rates have increased 5-percent and at the 10,000-gallon block, it goes up 10-percent and then at the 25,000-gallon block it goes up 15-percent, and then 20-percent for water use over 50,000 gallons," said Terry.

The city said this is the worst drought in nearly two decades.

"[It's] substantially worse. The worst drought that we’ve experienced probably in the last 30 years was probably in 2001-2002 and this drought has exceeded that," said Terry. "It’s just that little strip in the south that drains to our lakes has been dry and just continues to be well behind what they normally receive through this time of year. The 'Goldie Locks zone' is just too dry."

Plus, all of the pools and splash pads are closed, including Bartlesville’s brand-new water park where there's not a single splash or kid in sight.

"All the time, they’ve been asking about the pool. They’ve been asking about the splash pads because that’s been the thing the past couple summers and then this summer it’s not. [...] Usually, we would like have a pool in the front yard or like a slip and slide type thing and we can’t do that,” said Ashley. “It’s a necessity with having five kids, especially four rambunctious boys."

Ashley said most outdoor activities are a decent drive away and indoor activities are expensive. She's even considered moving.

“Yeah, if this is not something that can be fixed within the next year or so, we actually have reached out to realtors in other areas," said Ashley.


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