Complaints by lawmakers about release of water from Canton Lake remind us of disgruntled heirs carping over an aging parent spending their inheritance.
Oklahoma City is exercising its legal right to take water from Canton to replenish local lakes drawn down by lack of rain. This is a bridge too far for Canton Lake and northwest Oklahoma partisans — just as the city’s use of southeast Oklahoma water has been.
“Where is their water conservation plan?” asked state Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher. He blamed the Canton transfer on a planning failure. Actually, it’s a routine move to rebuild levels at Lake Hefner after months of below-normal rainfall. Oklahoma City waited to make the change until Hefner got quite low and even delayed the transfer until a recent rain made the North Canadian riverbed more suitable for a transfer. That in itself is a conservation plan.
Conflicts over water between urban and nonurban areas are age-old, but the law is clearly on Oklahoma City’s side. Just as it’s everyone’s right to spend money instead of saving it for another’s inheritance, the city is doing what’s in the best interest of the people who pay local water bills and who must adopt their own conservation plans to save money and to obey rationing restrictions whenever they’re imposed.
Meantime, billions of gallons of water have been flowing into the Red River because the state lacks the political will to turn this wasted treasure into cash by selling the water to urban areas in North Texas.
Oklahoma, like much of the country, is still suffering the effects of one of the longest dry spells in recent memory. But most people may not want to live through what it will take to return to normal moisture levels in the next few months.
Climatologists say at least 8 feet of snow (and more in some parts of the nation) would be required to return the soil to its pre-drought condition in time for spring planting.
Without a sudden infusion of moisture in the next few months, the nation’s farmers and ranchers face another tough year, as do countless citizens who have lived through recent wildfires, including here in Oklahoma.
But as David Pearson, a National Weather Service hydrologist in Nebraska, notes, the snowfall required to improve the situation is “an amount nobody would wish on their worst enemy.”
The deaths this week of a woman and her four young children in Oklahoma City should prompt homeowners to immediately check the batteries in their smoke detectors.
They are such simple devices and require little to no maintenance — other than replacing the battery every six months or so. And yet all too often we read or hear about people who died in fires where no working smoke detectors were found.
This was the case with Jeanine Bonnet, 28, and her children, ages 3 to 8. They were killed the morning after Christmas in a fire in northwest Oklahoma City. They had been living in the house only a few months. Fire officials said the house hadn’t had working gas service for some time; space heaters were used instead, and one that was too close to a flammable material is what started the blaze.
Smoke detectors are vital because often it is smoke inhalation, and not the flames from a fire, that prove fatal. Would working smoke detectors have saved these five victims? It’s impossible to know for sure — firefighters said the blaze was particularly intense. But the fact the detectors didn’t work certainly stacked the deck against Bonnet and her children.
It’s worth remembering the Oklahoma City Fire Department provides free smoke alarms to city residents who can’t afford them, individuals living in homes with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The department will even install the alarms and new batteries for people who need a hand.
For assistance, stop by a local fire station or call (405) 297-3318.
Oklahoma City weather forecasters are generally quite accurate when tracking the paths of tornadoes, or predicting the likelihood that developing storms will produce twisters. But their success rate seems to take a hit when winter arrives.
At midday Monday, we were warned (and warned and warned) that Oklahoma City would get 6-8 inches of snow, and perhaps more in pockets, by the end of Christmas Day. Instead we wound up with a dusting as the heaviest snowfall fell farther to the south.
How refreshing it would be to every once in a while hear a forecaster put it this way when dealing with the likelihood and location of winter precip: “The truth is, we’re really not sure what’s going to happen, because we’re dealing with Mother Nature.”