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New provision is saving Bartlesville millions on water

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 19:15:08-04

TULSA, Okla. — People in and around Bartlesville can breathe a little easier when it comes to making sure they have a good supply of water.

A provision in Congress's Water Resources Development Act will allow the city to save nearly $10 million to purchase water.

“Bartlesville had a severe water shortage, to the point that Lake Hulah, our current supplier…almost dried up…you could practically walk across that lake,” said Bartlesville Mayor Dale Copeland.

Copeland said that 20 years ago a drought in Bartlesville was so extreme and the city's water supply was almost depleted, they were within days of limiting the amount of water residents could use.

“A town can be no bigger than the supply of water that it has to grow,” Copeland said.

He said the city's main water supply is Lake Hulah.

“Lake Hudson, which is where we draw from, but the water from Hulah is pumped down in Lake Hudson. We have access to some water from the river, but in those situations, all of those go away,” Copeland said.

They needed the storage capacity Lake Copan provides, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was quoting the city a high price for a water storage contract. A price Copeland said they simply could not afford.

“Sen. [Jim] Inhofe has been a tremendous advocate and supporter for Bartlesville. The Water Resource Development Act, water bill that he was able to include language that allowed us to access water from Copan Lake at a reasonable price, so that we could get more capacity so that when those situations happen again, we will have plenty of water," Copeland said.

Copeland said now their water shortage capacity has more than doubled. He said it also lowers the price the city pays for water storage capacity, saving the city nearly $10 million.

“We supply water not just for Bartlesville, we supply for rural water districts, we supply for other communities in our area, we’re something of a regional supplier, so this will benefit the entire area," Copeland said.

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