City of Bartlesville asks residents to limit water use as lake levels fall

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The City of Bartlesville has asked residents, once again, to conserve water as lake levels continue to fall.

“We’re beginning to be concerned. We’re not at a critical phase, but we are asking people to conserve water,” said Mayor Dale Copeland.

Because of Oklahoma’s ongoing drought, the city wants residents to take simple steps to make a huge difference in conserving water.

“We also have one of our major pumps offline because of supply chain problems,” Copeland said.

In 2002, serious drought conditions resulted in water rationing.

“We have been at critical levels before to the point that businesses, car washes, and things were going to have to close,” he said.

That is when the city developed their drought contingency plan.

Currently, the city is in stage two of the plan.

“We’ve had success with continuing to work on that to try to get additional water rights so that, even in 10, 20, 30 years, we’ll still be in good shape,” the mayor said.

One of the steps to be completed this year is the water reuse system.

“Instead of putting it at the river here in Bartlesville, and then it goes down south into the Arkansas River, eventually, it will go north, to go back into the river then come back by Bartlesville,” he said.

Lake Hudson is a city-owned lake. It is a major source for water for Bartlesville residents, but lake levels continue to drop.

In December 2022, the lake levels were at 71 percent. In January, the level decreased to 68 percent.

“We really need rain north of us, which is in our catch basin to fill up our reservoirs. It’s just a combination of things, lack of rain, the pump being offline,” he said. “We’d rather err on the side of caution and ask people save water, help us out. Everybody does a little bit and it really adds up.”

City officials suggest that residents turn off the tap while brushing teeth or shaving.

They ask that residents shorten their showers, adjust the water level when doing laundry and consider installing a low flow aerator to reduce faucet flow.

Plus, they urge people not to use the toilet as a waste basket.

The mayor said taking action could save up to 50 gallons of water per person, per day.

“If we save the water, it’ll be there tomorrow, and that’s the critical thing that we’re looking at,” he added.