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Agricultural News

Drought Impacting State's Water Supply and Quality

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:51:47 CDT

Drought Impacting State's Water Supply and Quality

"Every drop counts" speaks to the importance of water in Oklahoma. This week the Governor's Water Conference and Research Symposium is going on in Oklahoma City. One of those attending session was Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan. Buchanan said he doesn't think this discussion will ever go away.

"In Oklahoma our demand on water is growing significantly over it was just a few years," Buchanan said. "There are many more of us, there are more needs, more demands on that. Both industrial, oil and gas, agriculture, municipal, recreation, tourism, wildlife. Everybody wants a share of that pie any more and with what's recently occurred here, certainly with drought is impacting Oklahoma greatly, there's not as much as there used to be to go around."

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm News Director Ron Hays interviewed Buchanan on the water challenges facing the state. You can listen to the feature by Clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.

There is a tremendous amount of interest around the state's water supply with more than 500 people in attendance of this week's convention. One session featured Oklahomans who are making a difference in water worldwide. Buchanan said several Oklahomans are working in areas that truly don't have enough water like the African continent.

It's amazing what Oklahomans are doing whenever you look at water around the world," Buchanan said. "Our water issues that we view as being just enormous I don't think are anything that Oklahomans themselves can not solve when Oklahoma's decide to."

In farming and ranching in southwest Oklahoma near Altus, the ongoing drought has been devastating. Buchanan serves as the general manager of the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District and represents irrigation water use interests as vice chairman of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He said approximately 40 - thousand people rely on water from Tom Steed Reservoir for their primary source of drinking water. Currently that lake is at approximately 25 percent capacity, which is concerning.

A secondary water source is Lake Lugert, which is located north of Altus. Buchanan said usually that lake would provide some assistance but in the extreme drought conditions Lugert is currently holding about 9 and half percent capacity. As these lakes get to these low levels, he is seeing water quality problems begin to occur.

"Nothing that can't be treated, but that treatment process is becoming more expensive," Buchanan said. "That treatment process itself creates a little bit of a taste that most folks don't like and then there are some issues with high chlorine water as it stays in the infrastructure in the pipes for a period of time creating another quality issue."

Buchanan said community leaders are looking at every way possible to make sure the area has access to water. He said in Altus they are looking at water in Texas in trying to revive a well field, so that water could be moved into Oklahoma.



Ron Hays interview OFB President Tom Buchanan
right-click to download mp3


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