Water well site shows promise
City of Lawton officials have a pretty good idea that a water well proposed in southeast Lawton will be successful.
The well site is one of 10 that were originally explored by Garver consulting engineers, a firm the City Council hired in 2015 to explore alternative water sources. The idea was to find additional ways to provide the raw water that the city's water treatment plants turn into potable (drinking) water, beyond the three lakes that Lawton now uses. While two years of heavy rains have alleviated most concerns, it wasn't too long ago that Lawton and the rest of Southwest Oklahoma were in the grip of drought so severe that communities were rationing water at a severity level not seen in decades.
Garver began its work in 2016, exploring the idea of water reuse, or repurposing water that is treated by its wastewater treatment plant; riverbank filtration (using the land to filter treated effluent); or drilling wells into the Arbuckle-Timbered Hills aquifer that is under much of Lawton and Comanche County. The options are attractive because those water sources are less influenced by drought than are above-ground water sources such as Lakes Ellsworth, Lawtonka and Waurika.
Garver completed its analysis and recommendations on water reuse in 2016, and this year has been focusing on groundwater supplies.
After identifying 10 potential sites, the council directed Garver to give its attention to the five sites that show the best potential, focusing on those centered on city-owned properties and giving "favorable geophysical results." The five sites are scattered across the city, with two in northwest Lawton, one in south Lawton near Southwest 38th Street, one in Elmer Thomas Park and one the most favorable in southeast Lawton, northeast of the southeast water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant.
Dubbed Site K, that well site in James Henderson Park has an estimated yield of 3.14 million gallons per day (mgd). Another 1.15 mgd is available at the next attractive site (Site V), in northwest Lawton's Terrace Hills Park, while a third site (Site O) in south Lawton's McMahon Park has an estimated yield of 1.44 mgd.
But Garver and city engineers are looking at more than potential yield. Water quality testing has identified contaminants in the water that must be removed to meet federal drinking water standards.
Afsaneh Jabbar, director of water/wastewater for the City of Lawton, said those contaminants are naturally occurring, meaning they leach into the water from surrounding rock and soil. Despite their natural nature, those contaminants arsenic, fluoride and, to lesser degrees, iron, chloride and total dissolved solids must be removed.
Jabbar said Garver's next step will be to drill several more test holes on Site K, hoping that those tests will repeat the success found earlier. The water at that site exceeds primary standards in arsenic and fluoride, and secondary levels in chloride and total dissolved solids. Site V exceeds the primary levels in arsenic (a common well problem throughout the Arbuckle-Timbered Hills aquifer and at all five test sites) and secondary levels in total dissolved solids (as do all five test sites).