NORMAN — After months of study and several drafts, the Norman City Council has approved an update to the city’s oil and gas drilling ordinance.
The changes, approved unanimously at Tuesday evening’s council meeting, include some increased permit fees and higher insurance premium requirements for operators. The ordinance also updates fencing requirements for wells within 600 feet of a home, business or public road.
Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said the city watched closely the changes made by the Legislature under Senate Bill 809.
The law, which goes into effect Aug. 21, forbids local governments from banning drilling or other oil and gas activity. It allows for “reasonable” regulations in areas such as setbacks, noise, traffic issues and fencing.
“Our goal is public safety and to protect our watershed,” Rosenthal said. “Sixty-five percent of our drinking water comes from Lake Thunderbird, and we have a relatively small watershed. It’s all about the water.”
City staff began discussing updates to the oil and gas ordinance in late 2013. The city council discussed the proposals during study sessions in January, February and June.
Unless waived by the nearby property owner, wells in Norman aren’t allowed to be drilled within 600 feet of a home, business, church or school. They can’t be within 300 feet of any producing freshwater well. The city added several specific chemicals and substances to be tested in drinking water wells within a quarter-mile of disposal wells.
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