OCWP Newsletter - May 2023

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Action Items

Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan Public Outreach Survey is live! The survey is estimated to take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete and input received will help focus OCWP tasks.

Utility Providers: Help us to help you inform local leaders about your system needs - The Water Supply Infrastructure Needs Survey (WSINS) is still available. If you haven’t yet, please complete this survey as it provides critical technical information necessary to understand local needs, develop potential water management solutions, and supports seeking additional funding.

Upcoming Events

May 9: Northeast FACT Team Workshop Roadshow is coming to an area near you! Don't miss this opportunity to hear presentations and speak with agency and organization representatives about a variety of water and wastewater funding opportunities available to public entities across the state. Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship workforce program details will also be shared. To register, click here.

May 7 – 13: Drinking Water Week offers an opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to recognize the vital role water plays in our daily lives.

May 15 – 19: Infrastructure Week is a platform to advocate for investment in all types of infrastructure including water - roads, rails, pipes, ports, power grid, airports, water systems, and broadband internet. Webinar Series all week beginning with North Dakota WATER on May 15. ASCE hosts a panel discussion on workforce solutions also on May 15 and will make the case for a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) on May 18. 

May 22 – 24: APWAOK/OWEA Joint Technical Conference and Trade Show, Norman OK. Come join the Oklahoma Water Environment Association and **** to share knowledge with the Oklahoma public works and water environment community.

May 25: Water and Environmental Summit in Midwest City hosted by the Ok Municipal Utility Providers and OK Municipal League. Come hear from experts on workforce development, ISO ratings, and water shortages.

Ongoing ORWA Training Opportunities for Board Members, Water Operators, and more are available around the state.

May is American Wetlands Month. This is a time when the EPA and their partner federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sector organizations celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to our Nation’s ecological, economic, and social health. Wetlands help improve water quality and supply, reduce flooding and provide critical habitat for plants, fish and wildlife. Celebrate! Learn! Explore!

Drought Resources

As Oklahoma suffers from continued drought, access OWRB's Drought Monitoring Site to review data on our current situation.

Review drought data on the national scale through the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Highlights for this Newsletter

The OCWP team continues to gather input from public water providers and the public on water challenges, as well as collaborate with workgroups to better understand roadblocks and identify actions to solve water challenges. Discoveries from these efforts will inform future meetings with water stakeholders and the public at key milestones.

Source Water Protection

The Source Water Protection Workgroup (SWP) encompasses a wide variety of authorities, initiatives, work products, and unique perspectives on wise management and care for this precious resource. However, the overarching desires are consistent: by combining resources and knowledge, we aim to find synergies that will ultimately improve our ability to protect Oklahoma’s drinking water sources. The SWP is currently identifying how we might share and even combine data into geospatial layers of existing geodatabase tools. While it's still early in the process, the Group is also weighing the formation Oklahoma's own Source Water Collaborative, which could open up additional funding sources and other benefits. 

In honor of American Wetlands Month, we would like to highlight how vital wetlands are to source water protection; wetlands help improve water quality and supply, reduce flooding and provide critical habitat for plants, fish and wildlife. Protecting existing wetlands and constructing new wetlands are both options for protecting Oklahoma’s water supply. Wetland vegetation, soils, and their associated microbial assemblages help to remove contaminants of concern. To learn more, visit https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/may-american-wetlands-month. For more information on the Oklahoma Wetlands Program administered through the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, visit https://www.ok.gov/wetlands/

Funding Resources

The Bureau of Reclamation announced a WaterSMART funding opportunity to support Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Projects. This new funding category supports eligible entities as they study, design, and construct aquatic ecosystem restoration projects that are collaboratively developed, have widespread regional benefits, and result in the improvement of the health of fisheries, wildlife, and aquatic habitat. The specific activities eligible for funding are described in more detail in the funding opportunity link below. Applications are due June 1, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. CDT. This funding opportunity announcement is available at www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity number R23AS00106 or by clicking here

Oklahoma wins two more WaterSMART grants! The Bureau of Reclamation has selected 84 projects in 15 western states to receive over $140 million in WaterSMART Water Energy and Efficiency Grants funded through investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to help projects use water more efficiently in the western United States. Of this, nearly $26 million was awarded to ten projects in Oklahoma and Texas. These ten projects are expected to result in a combined annual water savings of approximately 18,812 acre-feet. A description of all 84 projects is provided HERE.

Closing Thoughts

Help us help you! The 2025 OCWP Team is working hard to finalize the mountains of data needed to put together current and projected supply and demands for the 82 OCWP basins, along with the anticipated infrastructure needs to meet those challenges. Once we have the information compiled, our team will put together the statewide picture, identifying projected supply and infrastructure gaps that will inform decision-makers at all levels where to focus, where to begin conversations and build partnerships to seek alternative water sources, conserve and reuse water, and develop your local plans necessary to meet your funding needs. If you are connected in some way with a public water supply utility, we urge you or those at your organization to complete the current Water Supply Infrastructure Needs Survey (WSINS) with your best estimates of recent water use and planned infrastructure improvements through your longest planning horizon.

The 2025 OCWP Team looks forward to seeing many of you in the months to come at local meetings and discussing the challenges utilities and communities are facing and finding ways together to meet them!

Best regards to each and every one of you,

Owen Mills | Director of Water PlanningOklahoma Water Resources Board405.530.8904 Office | 405.421.4127 CellOwen.mills@owrb.ok.gov