Norman moves toward

water independence

NORMAN (TNS) — Norman took another step as a water conservation leader Tuesday with the passage of a resolution that urges the state to adopt new rules.

Working with other stakeholders across the state, Norman has finalized a proposal that would allow treated and recycled water to be reintroduced to natural water sources, like Lake Thunderbird.

“These are brand new sections in the environmental code for Oklahoma, many years in the making,” Utilities director Ken Komiske said. “It’s been a collaborative effort.”

With Tuesday’s consent docket vote, the city affirmed the newly proposed rules, which, if approved, would be added to Oklahoma Water Resources Board rules and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality rules.

Komiske said he’s excited about the new language. He wasn’t alone.

Ward 6 representative Breea Clark said the new rules represent another positive conservationist step and she’s excited about what it could mean for protecting Lake Thunderbird — the source of Norman’s drinking water.

“We started this process many years ago and it blended well with what the state wanted,” Komiske said. “The state, in 2012, put together a comprehensive statewide plan that would have the state use no more fresh water in 2060 than it did in 2010.”

Komiske said conservation, efficiency and regionalization are ways to get there, but he said the crux is reuse. That’s why, he said, the new rules are so important. He said they will open a new avenue for water conservation and make Norman more independent when it comes to water resources.

— The Norman Transcript


State geologist faults

Virginia Tech study

OKLAHOMA CITY (TNS) — A team of Virginia Tech University researchers found that Oklahoma’s earthquakes have been caused by saltwater disposal wells up to 77 miles away and that more action is needed to address the ongoing earthquake swarm.

An Oklahoma researcher, however, dismissed the report as out of date and for failing to account for the state’s complex geology.

The Virginia Tech study developed a model to analyze the earthquakes that rumbled Oklahoma from 2011 through 2016. The report showed that earthquakes of less than magnitude 3.0 declined along with saltwater injection rates in 2016, but that the rate of stronger earthquakes did not show the same response.

“Our study suggests that decreasing the volume of wastewater going into the Arbuckle will further help to reduce the correlation between wastewater injection and earthquakes,” researcher Ryan M. Pollyea said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “Continuing to decrease wastewater injection is important. Those are the steps that are being taken.”

The state’s overall earthquake rate fell more than 30 percent from 2015 to 2016, although the state experienced two of its most powerful quakes on record in 2016. The study did not include data from 2017, where both the overall rate and the rate of stronger earthquakes fell by about 50 percent from the previous year.

“It feels like the report was written well before the data was submitted, and it misses a few things,” said Jeremy Boak, director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. “I’m underwhelmed by the article. They’ve quantified it in a statistical way, but they’ve also done it in a way that ignores some geology.”

— The Oklahoman