Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett recently said he is not worried about the future of the city's water supply as the metro area continues to grow.
Hope he is right, because some residents and surrounding communities are slurping up the H2O in record amounts.
According to data from the city's utilities department, more than 29 billion gallons of the city's water supply were consumed by residents, municipalities and businesses during the 2008 fiscal year. While Oklahoma City has certainly grown during the past few years, the suburban offspring are sucking up the cow's milk at much faster and greater paces.
The No. 1 consumer of OKC's water is the city of Moore. The suburb just south of Oklahoma City soaked up more than 911 million gallons of water in 2008. Moore, which consistently tops the list of metro water consumers, is seeing a significant increase in usage. Between 2000 and 2004, Moore increased its usage by nearly 83 percent. But since then, the increase has gone up 149 percent.
"We entered into a long-term contract with the city of Oklahoma City a few years ago, at about the same time as our population began to explode," said Moore City Manager Steve Eddy. "This was a conscious decision that we made to use more OKC water, since we were unable to keep up with our demands on our own. Over time, our OKC usage will likely continue to go up."
If that sounds dramatic, look at Yukon. The city on the western edge of the metro area ranks second on the consumer list, with nearly 533 million gallons used in 2008. It increased usage a staggering 359 percent since 2004. And consider the previous four years, when Yukon's usage only went up 23 percent.
Other surrounding areas with increased usage include Norman (46 percent), Blanchard (12 percent), Deer Creek (31 percent) and Piedmont (37 percent).
One consumer group that appears to be better conserving water is business. Granted, two of the largest city water hogs " the General Motors plant and the Dayton Tire plant " are no longer in existence. The two plants ranked second and sixth, respectively, in 2004.
But some businesses have implemented changes that have brought down their consumption. The PowerSmith Cogeneration electricity plant decreased its water usage by 33 percent between 2004 and 2008.
"The reduction in water usage at the plant was due to the new power sales agreement PowerSmith negotiated with OG&E, whereby OG&E asked PowerSmith to generate electricity 50 percent of the time, rather than 100 percent of the time, as was the case under the agreement that expired in August 2004," said Bev Fenley, vice president of PowerSmith Cogeneration and the plant's controller. "PowerSmith makes steam when it is generating electricity, and it served that steam to Dayton Tire until Dayton closed in December 2006. Water usage declined further once Dayton closed its doors.
"For the future, we may save more water with the installation of a reverse osmosis system, which will make water for us and reduce our dependence on OKC."
Another big business consumer, Georgia Gulf Corporation, also slimmed down its water usage. The plastic chemical producing plant reduced its water use by 44 percent.
POOLS AND PONDS
When it comes to residential water usage, some individual homes take up enough water to supply a community.
Up on North Sooner Road near Britton Road, John Cresap's house is impressive. The two-story, 14,000-square-foot mansion sits atop a hill like a proud monument to home ownership. It also happens to be the No. 1 residential consumer of city water for fiscal year 2008.
"I had some issues with my pool in the last year," Cresap said. "It drained a couple of times, and I had to refill it, and that's the reason it's up there."
Cresap said he has two water wells he uses most of the time, but couldn't use them for the pool.
"You can't use well water on a swimming pool," he said. "I tried that, but unfortunately, it's hard on the equipment because of all the minerals in the water, so you have to use city water."
Cresap's home took up 2.26 million gallons of water last year. The average residential consumption in the metro for city water is 84,000 gallons per year.
"The house is geothermal, and that system uses more water, which is how you heat and cool the house," Cresap added.
Bradley Simons was surprised to learn his house on North Country Club Drive near the Oklahoma City Golf Club was one of the top 10 residential water users.
"It's not a small property, but it's certainly not the biggest one in town, either," Simons said. "We definitely have a lot of water around the house. There's a pool and fountains and stuff like that. It could have been we had some sort of leak during that period. But nothing that pops into my head that makes the top 10 list."
John Huff on North Council Road said a "major leak" contributed to his significant water usage in 2008.
Where most people use water may come as a surprise, according to Debbie Ragan, public information officer for the Oklahoma City's utility department.
"We estimate about 60 percent of the water used in the household is used outdoors," Ragan said. "We drink about 1 percent of that treated water that comes to the house. The rest is used for bathing, cleaning and other things."
That's something to think about in the shower. "Scott Cooper
LESS IS MORE
With the world's burgeoning population and a finite amount of fresh water, there's a new sense of urgency to water conservation issues.
Agriculture uses most of the water, but many cities across the country are encountering sustainability issues, especially during their peak water usage periods of July and August.
Central Oklahoma cities like Norman and Edmond urge conservation all year with an odd/even watering schedule. If the summer is particularly hot and dry, water rationing could become mandatory.
Although Oklahoma City has ample water supplies, all it takes is a large main break to cause at least temporary water supply problems in the summertime.
"It's a nonrecurring natural resource," said Debbie Ragan, public information officer for the Oklahoma City utility department. "It's the same water we've ever had."
Ragan said that, although Oklahoma City doesn't have a big conservation program, residents are asked to conserve water in the summer " when people start watering lawns " to prevent low water pressure issues.
Lawns and gardens are a home's biggest water users.
Here are a few ways to conserve water:
Check for leaks. Mark the water meter reading, then wait one hour, making sure no one uses water. Check again. If the reading is different, there is a leak. Install a new sprinkler system with sensors that turn it off when there is rain or a certain level of moisture in the soil. Water lawns deeply only once a week or consider xeriscaping. Low-flow shower heads and toilets can reduce water usage.
TOP RESIDENTIAL USERS FISCAL YEAR 2008
1. North Sooner Road
Owner: John Cresap
Home Value: $3.4 million
Square Feet: 14,248
Year Built: 2005
Gallons used: 2.26 million
2. N.W. 14th Street
Owner: John D. Randolph
Home Value: $876,199
Square Feet: 4,901
Year Built: 1907
Gallons Used: 2.25 million
3. Gaillardia Lane
Owner: James Williams
Home Value: $5.59 million
Square Feet: 14,627
Year Built: 2005
Gallons Used: 2.12 million
4. N.W. 15th Street
Owner: John F. Fischer
Home Value: $1.2 million
Square Feet: 5,634
Year Built: 1928
Gallons Used: 2.079 million
5. North Country Club Drive
Co-Owner: Bradley Simons
Home Value: $2.06 million
Square Feet: 6,596
Year Built: 1966
Gallons Used: 2.077 million
6. North Council Road
Owner: John E. Huff
Home Value: $1.46 million
Square Feet: 9,294
Year Built: 1979
Gallons Used: 1.67 million
7. Dalea Drive
Owner: Jim G. Melton
Home Value: $2.14 million
Square Feet: 7,278
Year Built: 2004
Gallons Used: 1.43 million
8. Blue Wister Cove
Owner: S & K Ventures
Home Value: $1.69 million
Square Feet: 6,372
Year Built: 2004
Gallons Used: 1.38 million
9. Gaillardia Place
Owner: Mehdi N. Adham
Home Value: $1.93 million
Square Feet: 6,861
Year Built: 2002
Gallons Used: 1.36 million
10. Gaillardia Circle
Owner: SMF LLC
Home Value: $3.99 million
Square Feet: 8,448
Year Built: 2007
Gallons Used: 1.35 million
TOP COMMERCIAL USERS
City Of Moore: 911,569 City Of Yukon: 532,901 City Of Blanchard: 164,090 Power Smith Cogeneration: 152,552 Georgia Gulf Corporation: 138,342 City of Norman: 103,934 Oklahoma Canning Co.: 101,165 Oklahoma County Jail: 95,549 Lopez Foods Inc.: 94,375 Mustang Improvement Authority: 80,217 Deer Creek Rural Water Corp.: 78,815 Baptist Medical Center Oklahoma: 77,623 Double D Foods: 77,557 Trigen Oklahoma: 75,894 Cedar Valley Nurseries: 74,055 Mercy Health Center: 71,997 FAA/MMAC: 71,622 Pottawatomie Cnty Rural Water: 69,582 Federal Transfer Center: 68,460 Lamson & Sessions: 64,998 OKC Golf Courses: 62,496 Remington Park Inc.:61,769 Clements Food Co.: 52,869 MD Building Products Inc.: 50,823 St Anthonys Hospital: 50,667 Canadian County Water Authority: 45,884 OKC Golf Courses: 45,486 Veterans Hospital: 45,285 State Fair of Oklahoma: 44,457 Xerox Corp.: 39,919 Ralston Purina: 36,654 Mcsha Properties: 34,745 Air Liquide America Corp.: 34,130 OKC Parks: 33,662 M M P Crossroads LLC: 31,573 Tierco Water Park: 31,060 Biltmore Hotel Oklahoma: 30,982 Southwest Medical Center of Oklahoma: 30,492 Raindance Apartments: 29,950 Presbyterian Hospital: 29,840 Quad Graphics: 29,472 El Reno Municipal Authority: 29,025 Nch Corp Boardwalk Apts.: 28,901 Oklahoma City University: 27,892 Heather Apartments Limited Partners: 27,695 Dayton Tire Co.: 27,478 Producers Co-Op Oil Mill: 27,410 City of Piedmont: 25,598 Wedgewood Village: 24,900 Meridian Avenue Partners LLC: 24,429 OKC Golf Courses: 23,840 Five Ok Apartments LLC: 23,361 Milbank Real Estate Services: 23,078 Oklahoma City Marriott: 23,054 OKC Golf Courses: 22,834 Guaranty Laundry: 22,812 Heather Apartments Limited Partners: 22,750 Country Club Apt Homes LLC: 22,680 Rexam Beverage Can Company: 22,362 Deaconess Hospital: 22,230 Steeple Chase: 21,735 Village At Stratford Apts II: 21,262 Northgreen Apts: 21,123 Myriad Convention Center: 20,994 OKC Hotel Ventures: 20,679 Aspen Place Apts: 20,526 Cintas Uniforms: 20,293 OKC Golf Courses: 19,905 Rockwell Plaza Apts LLC: 19,176 Meadowbrook Estates LLC: 18,857 Countryside Village Apts: 18,074 Veterans Hospital: 17,985 Dept Of Corrections: 17,696 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation: 17,682 Citgo Petroleum: 17,654 Branchtree Partners Ltd.: 17,456 The Renaissance Hotel: 17,185 Jackie L Keller: 16,597 Highland Glen And Ridge LLC: 16,535 Penn Square Mall: 16,503 5901 South May LLC: 16,455 Cinnamon Square Apts.: 16,415 Reddy Ice Corp.: 16,065 Warren Properties: 16,062 Hefner Golf Course: 16,035 Briar Glen Apts.: 16,005 OKC Golf Courses: 15,971 Westlake MHC, Arc III, LLC: 15,959 Susanna Wesley Center: 15,745 Park Place Apts.: 15,658 Burntwood Estates, Arc III LLC: 15,640 Oklahoma Medical Center: 15,510 The Brooks LP: 15,506 Braum's Dairy Store: 15,393 Mercy Properties: 15,348 University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center: 15,150 Tammaron Village Apt LLC: 15,112 Petro Truckstop: 15,092 Box Properties: 15,025 Magic Linen Service: 15,006 Hefner Golf Course: 14,991 South Park Health Care: 14,644 Lakewood Park Estates LLC: 14,636 Commercial Linen Supply: 14,610 Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech: 14,480 Oklahoma Publishing Co.: 14,422
Sources: City of OKC / Oklahoma County Assessor