The Altus Municipal Authority and City Council received a water update from the Mountain Park Conservancy District on Tuesday, March 18, at their regular meeting, who provided projected dates for total depletion of Lake Tom Steed, one of the two main water sources for the City of Altus, and offered possible solutions for long term acquisition of water. The City Manager reported that the City of Altus is being awarded $575,000 for Round Timbers Well Field. Also during the meeting, the Altus Men’s Swim team was also recognized for being the State-Champion runner up.
As of Tuesday, Lake Tom Steed was at 29.2 percent capacity according the the Bureau of Reclamation, reported Will Archer, Manager of the Mountain Park Conservancy District. If the inflow of water into the reservoir remains the same as the last three years, depletion of the reservoir will not occur until August of 2021. However, if there are no significant inflow events, then the projected date is November 2016.
“That’s the worst case scenario… that’s not any water running down the creek,” Archer said. “The only water coming in is the base flow coming out of the aquifers under the reservoir. And those base flows are very minimal and don’t make any difference. But they’ve never slowed down so we figured that in.”
Archer offered several solutions, first ruling out the costly options of building a pipeline from East Oklahoma or building any new reservoirs, then offering up the possibility of building new, larger canals and developing wells in the Conservancy District. Archer said they have potentially 11,902 ac. ft. of well water allocation that could supply a “significant” amount of water to Altus. Archer reported that the water quality tested very well and the wells can be close enough to connect with the current water pipeline. They are currently working on getting permits from the Bureau of Reclamation.
Archer then suggested that Tom Steed has missed out on capturing an enormous amount of water due to the size of current canals feeding the reservoir.
“In the last 3 years we missed 20,000 acre feet because our canal wasn’t big enough from Elk Creek,” Archer said. “Could you not more efficiently run canals from creek to creek and fill up reservoirs we already have? With a few miles more of canals and bigger ones… We could have 20,000 more acre feet in Tom Steed right now. That’s just one creek.” Archer said this alternative would be the least expensive option.
“The water has been here, we just didn’t capture it.”
Several Council members showed interest in the suggested alternatives. Councilman Chad Osborne asked what needs to happen before work can begin on new canals, and asked about the amount of work involved. Archer informed they need to file for additional permits, and do further research. At the least they would construct an 11 mile canal from Elk Creek three or four times the size of the current canal.
Councilman Michael Beason asked what the City Council can do to expedite the process of developing new canals. He also asked about a time frame for the water wells to be active. Archer said that eventually the City might be able to assist in grant application writing, and expects the wells to be running within the next 12 months.
Councilman Rick Henry asked, “Where are we on the permitting for the wells?” Archer stated they are waiting on the Bureau of Reclamation to file for the permits or issue a lease to the Mt. Park Conservancy District.
Also during the AMA meeting, the Finance Department gave a financial and operational report for the period ending Feb. 28. According to the report, with 66.7 percent of the FY elapsed, only 61.4 percent of the budget has been used, and 68.5 percent of projected revenue was been earned. A financial audit for FY 2013 is being completed and will be presented at the April 1, City Council meeting.
After the AMA approved the consent agenda, they approved Resolution No. 2014-09 to adopt a $12,700 budget amendment of the AMA of the City of Altus FY2014, for money received from the Marlow Municipal Authority for assistance and materials from the Electric Department during an ice storm they suffered. They also approved Resolution No. 2014-10 to adopt a $51,700 budget amendment for required improvements at Park Lane Substation according to Resolution No. 2012-01 and Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority Loan Agreement.
Council entered into executive session regarding confidential communications between the Board of Trustees of the AMA and its attorneys regarding Case No. CV 2014-004, entitled “Altus Municipal Authority v. Altus Flight Academy, inc. et al…” In open session, a motion made by Councilman Rick Steen passed to allow McMahan and Vernon P.C. to handle the litigation case.
During the City Council meeting, Council approved Resolution No. 2014-11 to adopt a $45,000 budget amendment for the Altus/Quartz Mountain Regional Airport of the City of Altus for the Fiscal Year 2014. Amy Lucas of the Finance Department reported that the Airport has sold more fuel than anticipated and has to buy more fuel to continue selling it.
They also approved Resolution No. 2014-12 to adopt a $35,500 budget amendment for the Altus Parks Development Fund of the City of Altus for the recent purchase of playground equipment for Indian Hills, English Village, and Hightower Parks.
Council approved the Purchasing Department to advertise a Request for Proposals for a Classification and Compensation study for City of Altus employees.
Council entered into executive session to discuss the contract employment of the City Manager position, held by Elizabeth Gray, per City Charter. In open session, Council voted to have the City Attorney draft a City Manager Contract according to the City Charter, and then begin to work on another final City Manager contract.
During comments and reports, City Manager Gray informed that Oklahoma Water Resources Board notified her that the City of Altus was awarded $575,000 to be used toward infrastructure improvement to the Round Timber Water Well Field and secondary line. She also reported that OMPA approved the $1.8 million loan for the infrastructure project to duplex the Tamarack Road Substation, and the temporary lease of a transformer.
After comments from Council members and the Mayor, the meeting adjourned.