Special Meeting Recap

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Back to Work

It’s been a while, guys, and for that I apologize.  My boss and his wife had their baby and, she being their first, took a justified week and a half off, so I was working when the council met last session (9/13/16).  However, now we get to take a look at what happened with all the clerk’s notes included, which is a nice advantage!

Other than this special meeting recap, there’s a lot of other interesting stuff going on, and if I don’t get to it all in this post I’ll follow up with others to make it all easier to digest.

Shall we begin!?

Opened With a Water Authority Special Meeting

The Special Meeting had two items.

A Generational Telecommunications Contract

The first dealt with an amendment to a 25 year sublease agreement the city made with VoiceStream PCS I, LLC.  It was an agreement to lease some space on one of our water towers for some telecommunications equipment.  Since the agreement in 2001 VoiceStream merged with T-Mobile Central, LLC, so that’s who we’re dealing with now, and the amendment is simply to allow T-Mobile Central, LLC to switch out some equipment on the tower.

Pretty basic, right?  Just two quick observations.  A quarter century contract with a communications company in a time in our history where tech is evolving fast, seems to lack foresight.  How about a 5 year contract, and we’ll see about another at that time?

Two, if the city took lease payments from a private business by making use of a publicly owned water tower, how was that money spent?  How is that money being spent now?

A Study of Alternate Water Supplies

Some of you may remember that our council recently took an opportunity to pay off a loan from the OWRB (Oklahoma Water Resources Board).  They saved some money by doing so, but now they are taking out another loan for the purpose of conducting an Alternate Water Supply Study Project estimated at $800k.  The loan is for $200k, and the OWRB says it will repay the city if it uses the money to look into Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) as a potential water supply rather than other alternatives.

There’s definitely a question here about why the OWBR would provide monetary incentives to research a particular method.  Is IPR the best water supply alternative for Lawton residents?  Is there a motive for them to want us steering away from exploring other possibilities?

In 2015 we began an initial study into four possible alternative water supplies.  These were Indirect Potable Reuse, Direct Potable Reuse, groundwater, and riverbank filtration.  Of these, groundwater had the greatest required investment to research, but also a great potential reward.  Our Arbuckle-Timbered Hills (ATH) aquifer has more than enough water, but that water contains far too much fluoride to be drinkable.  This means it would require treatment, which equates to additional cost.  I don’t know what they found at the end of this study, or even that they finished it.  The article I linked suggested it might not be done until the end of this year, so it may still be ongoing.

A Note on Fluoride

I did a little research on how fluoride gets into groundwater, and found out it can occur naturally as minerals and other solids erode into the moving water.  It can also occur through human activities such as chemical fertilizers, combustion of coal and other industrial waste.  Our levels are measuring at 9.1 milligrams per liter, while to be drinkable it must between .6 and 1.5 mgs per liter.

In order to get that high, human activity almost has to be the cause.  Perhaps this is a factor in why the OWRB would subsidize us not even looking any further into the groundwater alternative?  If industrial agriculture has been mismanaging our ATH aquifer for decades, that could explain it. While big agribusiness is trying to get their SQ 777 passed, such exposure would harm their efforts.  Of course this is just speculation.  There’s much more research to be done!

To be continued…

I didn’t realize how much research would be involved in doing a write-up on just the Special Meeting last week, so I’m posting this as-is and continuing my write-up on the rest of the meeting over the next few days.

Don’t forget our city’s elections are coming up with the general election November 8th!  If you’re in Ward 3, I’d suggest you visit Caleb Davis’ website.  It’s not what you’d expect from a local council candidate, and we need to take advantage of the opportunity to elect good people when they happen to run locally!

See you folks soon!


About the Author

Grew up in Jackson, MS. Moved to Lawton in '92, went to Tomlinson, then Lawton High, then back to Mississippi for some community college. Finished a degree in politics, economics and philosophy back in '05ish. Haven't used it since. There's much more to anyone's story, of course, but for that you'll have to ask.

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