water

Environment
5:24 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Southern California's Water Supply Threatened By Next Major Quake

The California Aqueduct carries water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Southern California. It is one of four aqueducts in the region that glide across the San Andreas Fault.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 6:30 pm

Southern California gets the vast majority of its water from four aqueducts that flow from the north, but all of them cross the San Andreas Fault.

That means millions of people are just one major earthquake away from drying out for a year or more.

"It's a really concerning issue for the city of Los Angeles," says Craig Davis, an engineer with the LA Department of Water and Power, which oversees the LA aqueduct.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:15 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Drought-Stricken Oklahoma Communities Dealing With Prospect of Dead Lakes

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, at the Tom Steed Reservoir dam.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Most of western Oklahoma is in its fifth year of drought with still no end in sight, despite a wetter-than-normal-end to 2014.  And many of the lakes communities rely on for drinking water are now on the verge of being too low to use. The situation is most dire in Altus, Duncan and Canton.

TOM STEED LAKE

The granite boulders and outcroppings that surround Lake Tom Steed, near Altus, are what make is so uniquely beautiful. They also tell a story of drought. The rocks are stained with the remnants of water that used to be here. For lake manager Will Archer, this is all very personal.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and the creeks I always played on when I was a kid, they don’t run anymore,” Archer says. “Tom Steed is the life and the blood of southwest Oklahoma. Right now we’re providing 100 percent of the water to Altus. We’re providing over half of the water supply to Frederick. We’re providing, I think, about half the water supply to Snyder.”

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Local News
8:25 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Headlines: Norman Water, Tulsa Flights & OKC Food

Headlines for Wednesday, January 14th, 2015:

  • Norman residents approve a water rate hike. (NewsOK)

  • Options for new destinations are increasing at Tulsa International Airport. (Journal Record)

  • School officials in Minco are closing the district for the rest of the week. (Chickasha Express Star)

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Environment
2:39 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams

Salt is unloaded at a maintenance yard in Scio Township, Mich., in September.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

This is the time of year when it's not uncommon to see big trucks barreling down highways and streets spreading road salt.

Steve Corsi, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that translates into high levels of chloride concentrations for rivers like the Milwaukee in Wisconsin or 18 other streams near urban areas in Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and several other states.

"At many of the streams, concentrations have now exceeded those that are harmful to aquatic life," he says.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
9:30 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Crowd Rallies for Clean Water as Norman Committee Considers New Drilling Rules

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

About 60 demonstrators gathered in front of the Norman City Hall Wednesday evening before the city council’s oversight committee met to discuss changes to the Norman’s oil and gas drilling regulations.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:39 am
Thu December 18, 2014

StateImpact’s Biggest Stories of 2014 and a Preview of Reporting for the Coming Year

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact racked up thousands of miles traveling across the state this year, filing more than 40 full-length radio features and hundreds of web posts on how government energy, environmental and economic policy affects ordinary Oklahomans. And many of those stories involve issues that are ongoing.

EPA Regulations

On of the first broadcast stories we filed this year was on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze rule, and how pollution from Texas coal plants dirties the skies above the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. Volunteer firefighter and avid hiker Bill Cunningham took us to the top of Mount Scott to show us the pollution the rules are supposed to fight.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
10:44 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Risk Associated With Dam Failures Grows in Oklahoma, But Safety Funding Lags

Families and a fisherman along the spillway beneath Broken Bow Dam in southeastern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has nearly 5,000 dams, more than most other states. When they were built, they were classified based on the risk their failure would pose to people and property.

But for many dams, it’s been decades since that risk was evaluated, and the potential hazard has changed because Oklahoma has changed. There are houses, roads and people where there weren’t before.

How did Oklahoma get so far behind in the dam reclassification game?

Mainly, the cost. Reclassifying dams into proper categories — low, significant or high-hazard, if loss of life could result in a dam’s failure — is expensive and time consuming. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board oversees the state’s dam safety program, and Director Yohanes Sugeng is trying to meet a pressing public safety need without a lot of money.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
9:16 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Confusion Fueling Oklahoma Outcry Over EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule

Mason Bolay climbs into the cab of a tractor on his family's farm near Perry, Okla.
Logan Layden StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine calls it a power grab by an imperial president. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas says it would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for famers and ranchers in Oklahoma. That kind of hyperbole is expected anytime President Barack Obama’s EPA does, well, anything. But the changes being proposed to the way bodies of water are classified are confusing.

The so-called ‘Waters of the United States’ designation is the federal government’s attempt to define which bodies of water qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. The EPA is trying to tweak that definition. And it’s got farmers like Mason Bolay worried.

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Dealing with Water Shortage
9:32 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Drought Stricken Southwest Oklahoma Towns Look For More Water Underground

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.

Estimates say Duncan’s main water source — Lake Waurika — could be too low to use by 2016.


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Scenic Rivers Series
10:13 am
Thu September 4, 2014

On the Mountain Fork River, Environmental Protection Equals Economic Development

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

This is the final part of StateImpact Oklahoma’s series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part three is available here.

Eddie Brister knows how the stream warms and cools, and where the current rushes and pools. He knows every pebble in the river, and he can spot a trout without even dipping his waders in the water.

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