Norman joins communities around the country to highlight the importance of water
What would a day without water be like? There would be no water to drink or wash hands with, no water to shower or flush toilets, to do laundry or use for cooking. There would be no water for farmers or ranchers to raise our food, and no water for hospitals or firefighters to use.
The City of Norman joins elected officials, water utilities, community leaders, educators and businesses from across the country on Oct. 21 as part of the seventh annual Imagine a Day Without Water – a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Led by the Value of Water Campaign, more than 1,000 organizations are set to take part in this campaign with a mission to raise awareness about the role of water infrastructure in day-to-day activities and the importance of investing in such infrastructure. The focus of this year’s event is to invite people to learn more about where water comes from and where our wastewater goes.
“Our award-winning water treatment plant provides high quality water to our customers who need it for their everyday lives, while our award-winning water reclamation plant ensures that water is reclaimed responsibly and efficiently, and then sent back to our environment,” said Michele Loudenback, City of Norman Environmental and Sustainability Manager. “Water is often taken for granted, but past droughts have shown us how precious our water resources are. While 3% of the earth’s water is fresh, only 0.5% is available for human use. The rest is either locked away in glacier, polar ice caps, the atmosphere or our soil, or it is too polluted or located too far underground to reach. Investing in our water and wastewater infrastructure is the only way to ensure that our community has the fresh water it needs to not only survive but to thrive.”
Raising awareness about the state of water infrastructure is a crucial step to ensuring water systems keep flowing for generations to come, according to Oluwole (OJ) McFoy, Board Chair of the US Water Alliance. “Even though we cannot see the pipes and sewers beneath our feet, water cannot be taken for granted. High-quality water service is a critical part of every thriving community. We encourage everyone to take a minute to learn more about their local water system, where their drinking water comes from and where their wastewater goes.”
Similar to other water systems throughout the country, Norman’s water system faces challenges of aging infrastructure and requires system upgrades to abide by more stringent requirements. The following initiatives for the Norman water system are currently being planned:
- Advanced water metering – The majority of Norman’s 41,000 water meters have reached the end of their useful life. Plans to replace these meters with new, accurate meters that are read automatically will ensure that citizens receive timely, accurate bills and provide additional information on water usage to reduce leaks in the system and help with water conservation efforts.
- Groundwater disinfection and blending site – The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality requires the City of Norman to begin disinfection of groundwater prior to being pumped to the water system, which will require land acquisition and construction of a new booster station and ground storage. The site will also be configured to allow for future treatment to abide by continuously changing regulations set forth.
- Water main replacement – Norman’s water system consists of more than 600 miles of buried pipe and over half of the pipe is cast or ductile iron that fails more readily due to corrosive soil conditions. Replacing pipes is of utmost importance in order to maintain quality and service reliability.
Such plans and upgrades may be financed through utility rate increases approved by Norman voters. The last increase was approved in 2015.
Imagine a Day Without Water was envisioned as an advocacy and education day that asked Americans to think about what it would mean to go without water for a day. There are already two million Americans living without water service. With the stress of climate change and the challenges of maintaining water infrastructure that is a century old in some places, there is growing concern about the stability of water supplies and service. According to the 2021 Value of Water Index, 83% of Americans said ensuring a stable supply of water should be a top federal priority. They also ranked addressing water contamination and investing in infrastructure as top priorities. Learn more at imagineadaywithoutwater.org or contact the City of Norman Office of Environmental Services at 405-307-7130.