Drought threatens 16,000 Payne Co. residents’ water supply

STILLWATER, Okla. – There’s serious concern about a Payne County community’s water supply, which could run dry in less than two months.

Lone Chimney Lake, which sits 12 miles northeast of Stillwater, provides water to 16,000 residents in the surrounding area.

Monday morning, Payne County Commissioners declared an emergency for water supply needs.

District Two Commissioner Chris Reding said nearly 16,000 Payne County residents could soon be without water because Lone Chimney Lake is now 11 feet below its normal level; its lowest level ever.

He said recent cold temperatures are preventing a “fish kill,” where all the lake’s fish die from a lack of oxygen.

If that happens, the remaining four feet of lake water would be untreatable.

“Imagine thousands and thousands of rotting corpses in your water supply,” Reding said. “That’s really what you end up with.”

Using a $3.3 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, a pipeline is being built from Stillwater’s water treatment plant to Lone Chimney’s plant.

But that pipeline could take another five or six months to complete.

If it doesn’t rain very much before then, Reding said water may have to be delivered by trucks to residents at a common point.

“They’re all concerned whether we’re going to have water to drink,” Darrel Clark said, Chairman of the Lone Chimney Water Association. “We have a lot of farmers that water their cattle. They don’t have any ponds. Their ponds are dry.”

The towns that rely on Lone Chimney Lake, including Glencoe, Morrison, Pawnee and Agra, are being asked to conserve water as much as possible.

The Lone Chimney Water Association signed a 30-year contract to pay Stillwater at least $85,000 a year for water.