Oklahoma Water News

1st Quarter, 2020

Oklahoma Water Resources Board

To comply with state recommendations and provide maximum protection for agency staff and the public, the OWRB officially closed public access to the office building on March 16. Agency staff rallied to identify innovative ways to deliver the same level of service to customers and the public using strategies that would keep everyone at a safe distance. The OWRB’s website was quickly updated with the latest information, including a new “Contact Us” automated form that allows the public to specify a topic or issue and send a targeted message to the appropriate staff member. The form has been heavily utilized as a quick and efficient way to communicate. The form’s tracking features have allowed staff to customize topics and information available on the website to help answer the most frequently asked questions and get customers the information necessary to conduct business as usual.

The urgency to increase the agency’s online and digital offerings has provided the OWRB with opportunities to improve services. There has been a significant increase in information sharing about resources and assistance through the state’s GovDelivery services. New opportunities have been created for “face-to-face” customer service via video calls and meetings. With more flexibility in scheduling meetings and increased participation in meetings due to live streaming video capabilities, the OWRB has been able to reach out to more individuals about important water issues, and at the same time, save money on meeting space and travel. The OWRB is now able to identify potential future savings for the agency by continuing many of these meeting protocols beyond the current closures.

Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) Viewer

The OWRB's new probable maximum precipitation (PMP) data viewer allows quick access to percipitation data that is critical for the design of dams in Oklahoma.

The PMP data resulting from this study replaces precipitation data published by the National Weather Service in 1978 in Hydrometeorological Report (HMR) No. 51, which was previously required by the Dam Safety Program to develop the design storm for dams in Oklahoma. The study was commissioned by agencies in the four states, including the OWRB, and conducted by Applied Weather Associates, LLC.

Hundreds of extreme storm events were considered in the study, and 63 events were selected to be used for final PMP estimation. Parameters to estimate PMP were developed using the storm based, deterministic approach discussed in the HMRs and subsequently refined in numerous site-specific, statewide, and regional PMP studies completed since the early 1990s. The PMP data is further refined into separate storm types, including general, local, and tropical rainfall events, to predict precipitation amounts in similar storm scenarios.

This web application allows users to select a point of interest and download a CSV file that contains the maximum precipitation amounts for that location for all storm types, areas, and durations that were part of the PMP study. The contents of the CSV file can be pasted into an Excel table linked in the application instructions. The Excel table separates and formats the data so that they may be easily copied into a hydrologic modeling program, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers HEC-HMS software, for use.

The raw study data consists of raster files in Esri geodatabases and is also available for download from the OWRB website.

Ceremonial check presented to Wilburton

OWRB Planning and Management Division Chief, Kent Wilkins (center), Sen. Larry Boggs (far left), and Rep. Jim Grego (left), present a ceremonial check to the Wilburton Public Works Authority on March 6 to fund an emergency water line project.

To pay for the cost of repairing the line, the Wilburton Public Works Authority (Authority) requested approval for a $31,875 Emergency Grant through the OWRB to install a new twleve inch water line and valves.

The OWRB approved the grant at its February meeting. The estimated cost of the project is $37,500, which will be funded by the $31,875 OWRB Emergency Grant along with $5,625 in local funds. Joe Freeman, Chief of the OWRB's Financial Assistance Division calculated that the grant will save the Authority's customers $57,375 in principal and interest charges by not having to borrow the project funds.

FA Loans—393 totaling $1,234,270,000

The OWRB's Financial Assistance Program (FAP), created by the State Legislature in 1979, provides loans for water and wastewater system improvements in Oklahoma. The tremendous popularity of the bond loan program is due, in part, to extended payoff periods of up to 30 years at very competitive interest rates.

CWSRF Loans—359 totaling $1,759,285,441

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan program was created in 1988 to provide a renewable financing source for communities to use for their wastewater infrastructure needs. The CWSRF program is Oklahoma's largest self-supporting wastewater financing effort, providing low-interest loans to communities in need.

DWSRF Loans—218 totaling $1,374,539,513

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan program is an initiative of the OWRB and ODEQ to assist municipalities and rural water districts in the construction and improvement of drinking water systems. These projects are often mandated for communities to obtain compliance with increasingly stringent federal standards related to the treatment of drinking water.

REAP Grants—704 totaling $62,663,834

The Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) Program was created by the State Legislature in 1996. REAP grants, used for water/wastewater system improvements, primarily target rural communities with populations of 7,000 or less, but priority is afforded to those with fewer than 1,750 inhabitants.

Drought Response Program Grants—6 totaling $418,848

Through the OWRB's Drought Response Program, funding is available for communities in most dire need during state drought emergencies declared by the Governor. A maximum of $300,000 is diverted from existing OWRB Emergency Grant proceeds to fund the Program.

Emergency Grants—589 totaling $35,104,957

Emergency grants, limited to $100,000, are awarded to correct situations constituting a threat to life, health, or property and are an indispensable component of the agency's financial assistance strategy.

Water for 2060 Grants—4 totaling $1,500,000

Through the Water for 2060 Grant Program, funding was available in 2015 for municipalities, counties, water/sewer districts and other public entities for projects that highlight the responsible use of water.

Emergency Drought Relief Grants—4 totaling $1,125,000

Through the Emergency Drought Relief Grant Program, funding was provided in 2013 by the Legislature via the Emergency Drought Relief Commission to address severe drought issues in specific Oklahoma counties.

FA Loans & Grants Map

Total Loans/Grants Approved: 2,277 totaling $4,468,907,593
Estimated Savings: $1,491,891,236

Applicants eligible for water/wastewater project financial assistance vary according to the specific program's purpose and requirements, but include towns and other municipalities with proper legal authority, various districts established under Title 82 of Oklahoma Statutes (rural water, master/water conservancy, rural sewage, and irrigation districts), counties, public works authorities, and/or school districts. Applications for agency financial assistance programs are evaluated individually by agency staff. Those meeting specific program requirements are recommended by staff for approval at monthly meetings of the nine-member Water Board. For more information, call (405) 530-8800 or go to www.owrb.ok.gov/financing.