City gets OK for water re-use system grant

New system could be online by May 2020, officials say

The City of Bartlesville has tentatively been approved for a federal grant that will help facilitate the construction of a water re-use system for Bartlesville water customers.

The system will potentially provide potable water for the Bartlesville area for decades — extending current water supply sources upwards of 15 to 30 years, City officials say.

The $750,000 grant is from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2017 WaterSMART Drought Response Program: Drought Resiliency Projects, and is the second grant the City has pursued for water re-use, Grants Administrator Nancy Warring said.

“The grant would partially fund the design and construction of the treatment/pump station and conveyance pipeline needed for the diversion and treatment of reclaimed water,” Warring said. “This is the second grant we’ve been approved for in conjunction with this project. The first grant was in the amount of  $150,000, and is being used to help fund a study, currently underway, looking at the feasibility of water re-use for Bartlesville.”

According to Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen, water re-use is “the future” in water conservation.

“It is being utilized quite extensively in the western states, where drought conditions and declining reliable water supplies are most prevalent,” Lauritsen said. “We expect water re-use will likely eventually be used across the U.S. It really is the future in water conservation. Water is one thing all of us will always need, and reliable water sources are challenging when considering drought, as well as normal sedimentation in our lakes and other factors.”

Reliable water sources have been an issue in Bartlesville since drought conditions resulted in dangerously low levels at Hulah Lake, the City’s primary water source, in 2001-2002. The City also has rights and utilizes water from the City-owned Hudson Lake, located north and west of the city, and the Caney River.

Since 2002, City staff, elected officials and a 15-member committee made up of mostly volunteers, the Bartlesville Water Resources Committee, have worked tirelessly to ensure reliable water supply into the future. A 2007 U.S. Army Corp of Engineers study, the Planning Assistance to States Study (PASS), indicated the City’s best long-term option is to secure more water rights at Copan Lake and construct infrastructure to access it. However, the costs associated with this option are extensive. If implemented today, those combined costs would be an estimated $92.4 million.

But implementing the water re-use system will extend the area’s water supply well into the future at a fraction of that cost, Lauritsen said — coming in at an estimated $7 million to $10 million.

“We will ultimately have to secure additional water from Hulah and/or Copan Lake and construct the necessary improvements to meet our long-term needs,” he said. “But water re-use buys us time to do that. It will help us meet our water needs while we continue to pursue funding for the required improvements.”

The City currently supplies water to Bartlesville residents, the cities of Dewey, Ramona and Ochelata and several rural water districts. Average annual water use for the area is 5-6 millions of gallons of water per day (mgd), with usage spiking as high as 12 mgd during the summer months and dipping to 3-4 mgd during the winter.

Lauritsen says water re-use could extend available water supply by about 5 mgd, which will help meet estimated future water demands of 11.6 mgd by 2035 and 12.8 mgd by 2055, based on a projected 2055 Washington County population of 63,000, according to the Corps of Engineers study.

The system could be online by May 2020, Lauritsen said.