Olney is Looking At Options To Solve Water Supply Issue

Another Texoma town's water source is drying up.

Olney is being forced to use Lake Kickapoo as their only water source because Lake Cooper is too low.  Danny Parker, the city administrator, said the lake is only at nine-percent capacity.  Since the levels are so low, the intake structure at Lake Cooper can't collect any water.

Parker said they are looking at many different options. 

"We have plans to remove that filth, mud, whatever it is out of the way so the water can flow to the intake and once we do that we'll be able to use our water again," Parker said.

They are also looking into water wells.  He said it will provide a good source of quality water they can use for the drinking system.  Parker said they are also in the process to create an effluent water return project.  It would return the water back to Lake Cooper.

Operations Manager Daniel Nix said the city of Olney has been on contract with the city of Wichita Falls since 1979.  Nix explained they were in a similar situation back then.

Nix explained when they gage how much water Wichita Falls has left, part of that calculation is done with the max amount wholesale customers can use. 

Nix said, "The contract sets a maximum amount that they can withdraw.  I can tell you from looking back over the records they're no where near hitting that contractual maximum amount.  So, they are way below what they could take."

He said they are actually using less than 25-percent that what they could be using from Lake Kickapoo.  This is one of the reasons Nix said the city isn't worried about Olney using Lake Kickapoo as their only water source.  Nix said they also understand that Lake Kickapoo is Olney's last ditch effort.

"If it does go dry, it's dry over Olney.  It's dry for Archer City.  It's dry for Wichita Falls, but Wichita Falls can move to other lakes," Nix explained.

Wichita Falls has Lake Arrowhead and Lake Kemp to use as a water source.  Even if lake levels dropped as low as Lake Cooper, or lower, Nix said they can't cancel any of the contracts the city has with wholesale customers.

"Under Texas Water Law,

if you have a contract with someone to sell them water you can not cancel that contract," Nix said.

However, Nix said there is language in the contract so people buying the water have to conserve just as much water as Wichita Falls is.  This doesn't mean they have to follow the same drought restrictions.

Nix said, "They can have a completely different set of guidelines.  Just as long as they hit the restriction mark that we've set for our citizens in Wichita Falls."

Olney is in Stage 4 Drought Restrictions.  Parker said it's the highest restrictions they have.  He also said there isn't a lot more they can ask from residents.  Even if they enacted harsher restrictions, Parker said it wouldn't happen for a long time.  Nix and Parker said all they can ask is for residents to conserve as much as possible.  Nix said everyone is doing a great job at conserving.

, Newschannel 6