Report suggests alternatives for Yukon’s future water needs

Yukon has a sufficient water supply to last through the next 50 years, but there are options available that could ensure that supply will meet the maximum demand of the area much deeper into the future.

Mary Elizabeth Mach, an engineer with Garver Engineering of Norman, told the Yukon City Council that a study prepared for the Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority shows the best options include using water sources that already are available with the addition of a few more wells.

The idea is to reduce the area’s dependency on Oklahoma City as the largest provider of water.

COWRA is made up of a number of central Oklahoma communities, including Yukon and Mustang. The organization is seeking water source alternatives.

Currently, Yukon purchases more than half of its water from the city of Oklahoma City. The treated water is pumped from Lake Stanley Draper. Along the way, it is used to dilute water from the city’s 12 wells located at Will Rogers World Airport.

Earlier this year, the city learned that over the next decade the cost of purchasing water from Oklahoma City is expected to more than double as that city looks to expand its pipeline to bring water to the area from Lake Atoka  and Sardis Lake in southeastern Oklahoma.

Mach said one way to reduce the city’s dependency on Oklahoma City water is to develop its own sources.

“The focus of the plan is to determine how much water needs to be acquired to meet the demands in 50 years based on population projections,” Mach said.

According to population projections, Yukon is expected to have 31,660 residents by the year 2067. The projection for 2020 is 24,900.

“That means that by 2067, Yukon could need as much as 9 million gallons of water per day,” she said.

While that number does include about 1 million gallons of water in reserve, the figure proves staggering.

The water authority has estimated systemwide, more than 21.6 million gallons of water will be needed daily.

Finding a source for that much water also is challenging, she said.

In the short-term, Mach said cities such as Yukon and Mustang could look at ways to capture ground-water, treating it and utilizing it.

Other options include drilling additional wells to further tap into the Garber Wellington Aquifer, which is where much of Yukon’s water is now developed, or looking at other nearby aquifers, including one in Grady County.

Another option would be to purchase water from another nearby community, such as El Reno or Piedmont which have their own supply sources.

The problem with ground water, she said, is the high concentration of naturally occurring arsenic.

Finding a way to solve that issue would be expensive, officials have said.

Also of note, Mach said, is that eventually the city’s well field production capacity will not meet the daily demand.

That could happen as soon as 2045.

The cost to produce the water to meet the needs in 2067 could be as high as $1.05 per thousand gallons of water.

Most of that cost involves infrastructure that would be needed to deliver water from places like the Rush Springs aquifer, which was among the 27 options suggested in the study.

Mach said it would cost $294 million to build a system. Drilling additional wells to fill in the gap could cost $130 million.

Garver has suggested that city consider adding 12 wells in the first of four phases. Mach said the first phase should be done between now and 2022.

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