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November 20, 2007

Water Puzzle: A CNHI Oklahoma Special Project

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Oklahoma's water glass is either completely full or completely empty. Last year, grueling drought dried up creek beds, turned lush grass to brown and sent some cities scrambling to find drinking water for residents. When rains finally came last spring and summer, parts of Oklahoma were under floodwater, as the state recorded some of its wettest weather in history.



Amid these extremes, Oklahoma has been trying to figure out how its boom-and-bust water supply can hold up amid years of predicted population growth and increased demand. Solutions aren't easy, as they must deal with questions of supply and demand, geography and quality.



As scientists, politicians and planners rewrite the book on water for Oklahoma, CNHI's Oklahoma newspapers take a close look at the issues they face and what is at stake for all of us.



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PART ONE: Dry wells and water shortages were far from the minds of most Oklahomans this past spring and summer, when record rains caused widespread flooding. But the state’s water wealth could be a mirage, experts warn. Growing population and increased demand could mean water problems in the future. CAROL COLE-FROWE - NORMAN



GRAPHIC: How much water do we use for everyday activities?/MATT LANE - McALESTER



GRAPHIC: Infobox on what rainfall means to Oklahoma. PAMELA GUMAER - ENID



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PART TWO: Oklahoma is blessed with ample water, but not everyone has easy access to it. Differences in geography mean communities must draw water from various sources. All Oklahomans have a few things in common, however: Pressure to keep tabs on how much water is left while balancing various water needs and planning for the future. JACLYN HOUGHTON - OKLAHOMA CITY



SIDEBAR (ADA): Ada has it good. The city sits on top of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and has plenty of water. Yet facing growing demand, Ada is planning for the day its water will be gone. Some hope to build a 4,700-acre, recreational lake that would also serve as a potential drinking water reservoir. JACLYN HOUGHTON - OKLAHOMA CITY

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