Water well negotiations continue
By Traci Chapman
Work is going on behind the scenes to find an independent water source in Canadian County.
That was the word last week, when members of Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority met to discuss the status of the organization’s Phase II – negotiating with landowners for test well sites, officials said.
Seeking to help member cities – Mustang, Yukon, El Reno, Okarche and Calumet – become water independent, COWRA officials said a $425,000 plan to locate sites for testing was on track. All of those municipalities, as well as Canadian County, take part in the water-hunting effort.
Phase II is a nine-step plan, which organizers hope will culminate in locating the well with the smallest level of salt in local water. Members have been studying the feasibility of treating the brackish water, rather than continue the dependence of many members on Oklahoma City for water. A source of water about 800 feet deep contains enough water to supply Canadian County for 100 years, some have said.
The first necessary step was to determine the test well location and then which of those wells was the most promising, Karl Stickley with Oklahoma City-based Guernsey said. The engineering and architectural firm was hired by COWRA and has worked with the organization’s consultant, Shawn Lepard, to move the project forward.
“This is the first step, and it’s an important one,” Stickley said. “Everything we do from here depends on this.”
Test wells have been proposed along SW 29th Street on the eastern border of the county, as well as a fourth well just west of U.S. Highway 81 between Union City and El Reno, Lepard said.
Being at Oklahoma City’s “mercy” for water gives local officials an uncomfortable feeling.
“What happens to us and the other towns if Oklahoma City decides it needs all its water,” El Reno City Manager Tony Rivera said recently.
“This is our effort to do something today that will help the county for years to come,” Yukon City Manager Grayson Bottom said.
Should the plan proceed to its conclusion, officials estimated the brackish water treatment plant could run between $60 million to $100 million to construct. An updated report concerning well site negotiations was expected at COWRA’s next regular meeting, scheduled for March 21.