City Beat  

April 25, 2023

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Water Status

Stage 3 water restrictions in effect

Outdoor watering allowed once weekly; no rate increase yet

With the exception of steeper emergency water rate increases, Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Ordinance is in effect as of Monday, April 24.

Stage 3 limits outdoor water use to one day per week, drops the written warning for the first violation, includes reduced water pressure within the distribution system, and could later result in higher rates for households and businesses using more than 2,001 gallons of water per month.

“Implementing an increased fee schedule requires approval of a resolution by the City Council, so we will maintain Stage 2 rates for now,” said Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen. “If we are still in Stage 3 in early May, the council will be asked to approve the resolution for Phase 3 rates at that time.”

Stages of the ordinance are based on the percentage of overall water supply. Stage 1 kicks in when levels fall to 79-70 percent, Stage 2 is 69-60 percent, Stage 3 is 59-50 percent, and Stage 4, which is considered “critical,” is any level below 50 percent.

The City entered Stage 1 of the ordinance in December 2022, and overall water supply has continued to decline at a steady rate since that time.

As of Monday morning, the City’s overall water supply was at 57.4 percent, putting the area in Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Ordinance — just above “critical” status.

The forecast and other good news

Rain forecasted for this week is welcome news; however, even if it occurs as predicted, it is unlikely to change the situation much, Lauritsen said.

"The forecasted one-to-two inches may bump us up to around 60 percent, which would, of course, be welcome. But I believe we’ll need much more to end the drought," he said.

Other welcomed news: Water consumption went down with the mandatory restrictions in effect, and the Caney River Pump Station is back online.


"After implementing the water restrictions for Stage 2 the week of April 10, water use shot up to 5.33 million gallons per day (mgd)," Lauritsen said. "Last week water use went down to 4.71 mgd. That shows that people are starting to take this issue more seriously and are doing their part to conserve."

Lauritsen said with the pump station operational and the area entering Stage 3 restrictions, overall use should show an even further reduction in the coming weeks.

"It won't change our overall water supply percentage, as lake levels can only be replenished by rainfall, but with further restrictions and the pump station allowing us to take 6 mgd from the Caney River, we should be able to meet usage requirements and preserve what's left in the lakes for a longer period of time," he said.

Hulah Lake is currently 43 percent full, while Copan Lake is 55 percent full. Bartlesville water users typically use about 4-5 mgd during the winter months, but that number can skyrocket during a typical summer, Lauritsen said.

"We can see usage in the 9-12 mgd range during the hotter months, which is double or even triple typical wintertime use," he said. "This is due largely to irrigation and lawn maintenance and other outdoor water use. By limiting outdoor water use to one day per week for water customers, we can potentially save millions of gallons of water per day."

What to do

Effective April 24, the following provisions are in effect for all City of Bartlesville water customers:

  • Rates increases (remain at Phase 2 rates) for customers using more than 10,000 gallons of water per month.
  • 10,001 gallons and 25,000 gallons – 5 percent increase
  • 25,001 gallons and 50,000 gallons – 10 percent increase
  • In excess of 50,000 gallons – 15 percent increase

  • Outdoor water use will be restricted to one day per week
  • Even-numbered properties may water on Thursdays
  • Odd-numbered properties may water on Fridays

  • Water pressure will be reduced within the distribution system to minimum levels allowed by state and federal regulations

  • City-owned facilities and capital projects will reduce or discontinue all irrigation except as necessary to preserve greens or newly planted trees. For athletic fields or newly laid sod or seed, the watering shall be restricted to follow the outdoor water restrictions for even numbered properties implemented by each stage.

  • A reduced schedule of operation or closure may be implemented for City-owned swimming pools.

  • City-owned splash pads will remain closed.

  • All leaks in the raw water and treated water system will be repaired immediately, and non-essential operational uses of water by City crews will be suspended. This includes the flushing of water mains and fire hydrants, street sweeping, routine water jet cleaning of sanitary sewer mains, and non-essential training of fire fighters using potable water.

A variance committee is in place to consider cases of undue hardship for the emergency rates.

“Anyone who feels these provisions place an undue burden on them, their organization or business can seek a variance,” Lauritsen said.

To apply for a variance, complete the "Contact Us" form on the City's website,, or call 918.338.4100. Variances apply only to emergency rates and do not apply to outdoor water use or any other provision in the ordinance.

At a glance

The latest

Where we started: 71 percent

Where we are: 57.4 percent


Last week: 4.71 million gallons per day (mgd)

Prior week: 5.33 mgd

Average summer use: 8-9 mgd

Have we been here before?

In late 2012-13, Bartlesville was in a similar situation. Rainfall that occurred in April and May 2013 restored lake levels.

Has it been worse?

It has been a lot worse. In 2001-02, Bartlesville survived its worst drought in modern history, when overall water supply reached 17 percent. Rain in June and July 2002 restored lake levels just before restrictions were imposed.

Easiest ways to make a difference

Don't use the toilet for anything other than human waste and toilet paper. Replace defective parts on toilets, sinks and other facilities.

Shortening your shower by just a couple of minutes.

Turn off the water while brushing or anytime you're not using it.

Discontinue outdoor water use.

Did you know?

If every Bartlesville household reduced its water use by just 1,000 gallons per month and commercial business reduced usage by 2,000 gallons per month, it would save just under 1 million gallons per day — or more than 20 million gallons per month.

Director's Cut

Water FAQ: Dredging, studies, reuse & CRPS

Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen answers most FAQs

Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen answers your most frequently asked questions about water (and the lack thereof) in today's Director's Cut.

Why doesn't the City dredge Hulah Lake?


Dredging Hulah Lake has been looked at many times since the drought of 2001-02 and has been found to not be a viable option for many reasons — with the primary one being the cost versus return on investment.

Specifically, the cost to dredge Hulah Lake would easily be in the $150 million-range, and that's a low estimate. Other factors include a long permitting process and complications in disposing of the organic material. Silting would then reoccur over time, making this option less long term than desired.


Has the City done any studies or looked at other options? 

Yes, a study was completed in 2008 that looked at accessing water at Kaw Lake, Copan Lake, reallocating flood control to water supply at Hulah and Copan Lake as well as building Sand Lake. The most cost effective option was to purchase the remaining water storage rights at Copan Lake and reallocate five percent of the flood control at Hulah and Copan to water storage.

The study also looked at accessing water at other regional lakes, including Birch and Oologah, but these lakes either didn’t have any water rights available or not a significant amount of rights to warrant further investigation.   


What actions, if any, has the City taken since the drought of 2001-02?


In 2020, the City purchased the remaining storage rights at Copan Lake (2,500 acre feet, or 1 million gallons a day), which took a federal act of Congress and more than 12 years of work through the legislative process to keep the cost affordable for our customers. 

The City is also implementing water reuse, which takes treated wastewater and pumps it upstream of the City’s raw water intake on the Caney River, where we can recapture and send it to the water plant for further treatment.

Reallocation of Copan and Hulah will be pursued in the future. Reuse was prioritized over reallocation because water reuse is not impacted by drought or other environmental factors that can affect water availability at Hulah or Copan lakes. Water reuse was first authorized by the state legislature in 2012, thus it was not even possible when the initial study for long term water supply was completed in 2008. 


Why can't we implement the water reuse system now?


Water reuse for drinking water is still in its infancy in Oklahoma. The State codified a law in 2012 instructing the state’s environmental agency, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, to develop regulations for reuse. In 2015, the ODEQ developed the regulatory framework, and every year they continue to add provisions to this framework.

The City started investigating the feasibility of water reuse in 2016. Detailed studies completed in 2017 and 2018 confirmed its feasibility and treatment, along with environmental impacts. The City was able to take advantage of stimulus funded grants through the Bureau of Reclamation ($900,000) to construct the conveyance system (pump station and pipeline), which is anticipated to be complete mid-summer 2023.

Since 2017, the City has been communicating with the ODEQ about our water reuse application and the results of the various studies. Based on these results, the ODEQ permitted the construction of the reuse pipeline and pump station, but conditioned this approval on further study and improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, which were already in the planning stages. 


Being the first drinking water reuse system in Oklahoma, and nationally one of the only surface water augmentation projects I’m aware of, the regulatory approval process will be deliberate. Bartlesville’s water reuse application will happen, but will take time, as it is a new concept for a public water system in a rich surface water area of the country.


Why didn't the City make sure the parts needed for the Caney River Pump Station were available before taking the station offline?


The renovations at this pump station were necessary due to the cost of repairs on the existing pumps and availability of parts. The pumps were more than 50 years old and parts had to fabricated. These repair parts would cost $20,000 per pump, and the repairs would last four to six months. When the construction contract was awarded, two of the three existing pumps were out of service — we held off on repairing the pumps since this project was out for bids — and the last running pump was showing signs that the end was near. 


For the renovations, the project consisted of interior and exterior structure renovations, new piping, replacing the entire electric system as well as installing new pumps with motor controls. The project was anticipated to take seven months to complete. The first four to five months would entail the structure renovations, piping and electric work, with the pump and motor control installation being one of the last items installed. When construction was authorized, in August 2021, the contractor had contracts with suppliers that included lead times to ship parts. For the motor controls, this lead time was three months, which was consistent with post pandemic fabrication on electrical equipment. The motor controls were ordered in October 2021.


Bottom line, the existing station was about to be completely out of service due to the age and condition of the equipment; hence, the need for the project in the first place. To minimize down time for the station, the renovations were authorized to begin prior to having every part in stock because we had four to five months of prep work needed prior to the installation of the new pumps and motor controls. In the 20-plus years I have been involved with these types of projects, this is the only one where the parts did not ship within a month or so of when it was anticipated by the manufacturer.

For more information about Bartlesville area water supply, usage, and water system history, see

News & Updates

Mayor's national water challenge

It’s free and only takes a minute. Make your pledge to conserve water and save energy during Earth Month and you could win $3,000 toward your annual utility bills, water saving fixtures, and hundreds of prizes.

Next free yard debris collection is May 8-12

The City will hold its next free residential yard debris collection the week of May 8-12. The event is typically held twice each year, in the spring and fall, to help Bartlesville solid waste utility customers dispose of dead leaves and other yard debris for no extra cost.

Bartlesville residents can put their bagged yard debris or bundled tree limbs at their normal trash collection point on their normal trash day during the collection week, and City crews will come by and pick them up that day. The collection is for the following items only:

  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • Lawn clippings
  • Limbs and branches if cut in lengths no longer than four feet and bundled (may not exceed 50 pounds)

During the collection week only, yard debris bags will not require yard waste stickers, and clear or colored bags are allowed. The collection is for private residences only; no commercial collections will be made. There is no limit on the number of bags a resident can put out for the collection. Extra bags or items of household refuse outside the cart must have the red refuse sticker attached.

For more information, contact the Solid Waste Department at 918.338.4130.

Your Questions

Whataburger & Jimmy's Egg; Bridge project likely to start this summer

By Kelli Williams

Is it true we're getting a Whataburger and a Jimmy's Egg?

Jimmy's Egg — During its April 3 meeting, the Bartlesville City Council approved a $40,897 incentive for Jimmy's Egg to open a restaurant at 2330 S. Washington Blvd., the former location of McAlister's Deli. According to the Community Development Department, permits have been issued for the restaurant. Department staff have not been given a completion or opening date.

City Beat readers may recall that Jimmy's Egg had initially planned to open a restaurant next to Bricktown Brewery, located near Frank Phillips Boulevard and U.S. Highway 75, upon construction of the building, but those plans were put on hold with the pandemic. Bonus information: Medwise Urgent Care has been issued permits to open a facility at that location.

Whataburger — According to an April 26 meeting agenda for the Bartlesville Development Authority, the BDA is set to "(d)iscuss and take action on a recommendation to appropriate $119,000 from the Economic Development Fund for development assistance to WAB Venture, Inc. for construction of a Whataburger restaurant at 1350 S.E. Washington Blvd. (former Hunan restaurant), payable upon Certificate of Occupancy within 24 months."

As of today, Community Development Department staff have not received permit applications or plans associated with Whataburger.

When are you you doing that?

Do you know when the bridge on Tuxedo, over the Caney River, with the hole in the bridge, will be fixed? It seems like that has just been covered up and reduced to one lane for quite some time.

The pothole in question was patched when it appeared in January of this year, as funding for a complete bridge rehabilitation project had already been approved by voters in the 2020 General Obligation Bond Election. Design on the project started last October, and a construction contract will likely be awarded sometime this spring or early summer. Construction is expected to begin late summer or early fall of this year. It should take about a year to complete.

When is Yale going to be resurfaced?

The Yale resurfacing project is currently slated for the second issuance of the 2020 General Obligation Bond, funding that should be available this fall. So the Yale project should start sometime in 2024.

The $867,000 project, approved by voters in the 2020 General Obligation Bond Election, involves an asphalt rebuild on Yale between Adams Boulevard and Frank Phillips Boulevard. Some curb and gutter will be replaced as well.

For more information on the gap between elections and project completion, see

Rain barrels: Illegal or no?

Are rain barrels illegal to use in Bartlesville? Can I use the water from it to water my plant on a day of the week that I'm not allowed by the Water Shortage Ordinance?

Rain barrels are not illegal in Bartlesville. Yes, you can use water from it to water on any day of the week you would like.

Events & Announcements


BPLLS exercise classes move to Unity Square this summer

Bartlesville Public Library Literacy Services is moving their exercise classes outdoors for the upcoming spring/summer season, Literacy Coordinator Karen Kerr-McGraw said this week.

“With the beautiful spring weather, we’ve moved the exercise classes to Unity Square Park, located at Sixth Street and Dewey Avenue,” she said. “Not only does this allow participants an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, outdoor exercise is considered safer than indoor exercise, as it allows for more ventilation. Additionally, research has shown that being outdoors can help reduce stress and improve mental well-being. It also provides an opportunity for people to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.”

Kerr-McGraw said that while moving exercise classes outdoors has become a popular trend, it does present some challenges.

“One major challenge is weather, as outdoor classes may need to be canceled or rescheduled due to rain or extreme heat,” she said. “If weather conditions become unsafe and you are wondering if it will be outside, just check out the BPL Facebook page for any updates.

The following outdoor exercise classes are free and open to the public: Pound; CHEERFIT; Rev + Flow; Tai Chi; Dance ‘N Define; Strong; and Zumba.

The Bartlesville Public Library Literacy Services is able to continue these health literacy classes due to a $9,000 health literacy grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Funds are made possible by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Team City

Employee of the Month

City Manager Mike Bailey, right, congratulates Fiscal Technician Kayle Amador, who was named April Employee of the Month by the City's Employee Advisory Committee. Amador was selected for the honor after being nominated by fellow employee Accounts Payable Specialist Julie Brewer, who said Amador is "always nice and pleasant with customers."

"There is an elderly lady (who is disabled) that comes in to pay her bill, and Kayle takes the time to help this lady get to her car, going above and beyond her job duties," said Brewer.

Amador received eight hours of special vacation, $25 in Chamber Bucks and a dining gift certificate.

To nominate a City of Bartlesville employee for Employee of the Month, email information to [email protected].

Jobs/open positions

Are you looking for a career that offers competitive pay, excellent benefits and an opportunity to serve your community? Look no further! The City of Bartlesville is currently accepting applications for the following positions:

Applications for firefighter and police officer positions are accepted on a continual basis. To apply for these or any other open position, or for more information visit the City's website,

Volunteer Opportunities


Board, Committee & Commission Openings

The City of Bartlesville has numerous boards, committees and commissions that are driven by citizen volunteers. All citizens are encouraged and welcome to apply. Board applications are available online and in the City Manager’s Office, located on the second floor of City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave. Applications are kept on file for two years. To view a complete list, see Boards, Committees & Commissions.

The City currently has openings on the following committees/boards:

  • One opening on the Ambulance Commission
  • One opening on the Bartlesville Area Museum Trust Authority
  • One opening on the Bartlesville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Board of Directors (Visit Bartlesville)
  • One opening on the Construction and Fire Code Appeals Board
  • Two upcoming openings on the Park Board
  • Two upcoming opening on the Board of Adjustment

For more information, visit the City's website,

Kelli Williams, Editor

401 S. Johnstone Ave.

Bartlesville, OK 74003


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