Chickasha Votes - Funding a New Water Treatment Facility

Click here for a printable 2-page fact sheet

Chickasha’s water treatment facility was built in phases, with the most recent phase being completed in the 1970s. The sole source of drinking water for the City, this facility cleans and purifies water brought in from the source, Ft. Cobb Reservoir, before sending it out through the water delivery system into homes and businesses, and is the sole source of water for our City. Although upgrades have been made through the years, the facility is operating past its useful life and is at risk of catastrophic failure, which would leave the City unable to provide water services to its citizens. 


Our current facility is operating under consent orders from the DEQ to make costly repairs to address several problems. Rather than continuing a cost-prohibitive cycle of making short-term fixes, City leadership is heeding the advice from engineers and studies dating back to 2013 that we need to build a new water treatment facility.


It is estimated that a new water treatment facility will cost approximately $74 million, an amount the City does not have available outright. City leadership is exploring multiple avenues, including grants and partnerships, to find ways to fund a new water treatment facility and other needed capital improvements. 


The water treatment facility is also located in what is now a FEMA-designated floodplain, which adds a risk of being unable to decontaminate water in the event of a historic flood.  


A new water treatment facility will enable the City to treat water more efficiently and provide a higher quality product. The new facility will be built on land not in a floodplain, creating a safer and more stable water delivery system. While a new water treatment facility will not address aging pipes in our water delivery system, it is a critical first step in the process


A new facility is expected to take approximately 3 years to complete, including engineering, land acquisition, and construction. An engineering firm has been selected to design the plant, and we anticipate beginning operations at the new water treatment facility in 2026.  


Funding the Project 

Taking into consideration rising construction and inflation costs, the City Council and the Chickasha Municipal Authority (collectively, the “City”) decided to act immediately to secure financing from the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (“OWRB”) at a low interest rate to finance a new treatment facility. The City filed an application with the OWRB and on July 18, 2023 received approval from the OWRB for a loan. The loan was approved specifically for the purpose of constructing a water treatment plant, making improvements to the water system including new drum intake screens and water lines, upgrading the holding pond raw water pumps, and all related appurtenances. 


The City needed to provide security for this loan, which would come from either increased water revenues or increased sales tax revenues. Therefore, the City Council decided to ask voters to decide which method of funding the project was preferred.  


Using increased water revenues would require an approximate 82% increase in current water rates to users. This would generate the necessary revenue to pay back the construction loan. Alternatively, voters are being asked to consider approving a 1.25% retail sales tax to generate the needed funds to pay back the loan. If voters approve the sales tax, then there would be no need to raise current water rates.


Currently, there is a .75% sales tax in effect in Chickasha that is used for capital needs such as repairs to and maintenance on the current water treatment facility, water supply repairs, street repairs, sewer system upgrades as well as buildings and equipment. This .75% sales tax is set to expire on December 31, 2023. Voters are being asked to replace this expiring .75% sales tax with a permanent 1.25% sales tax. This will allow all those in our economic impact area who spend money in Chickasha to share the cost of building the new water treatment facility rather than place the burden solely on current water users. The net difference between the expiring .75% sales tax and the proposed 1.25% sales tax is .50%, or the equivalent of 5 cents for every 10 dollars spent.


Below is an explanation of both scenarios: a permanent 1.25% capital sales tax and an 82% water rate increase. The first page of this document details why a new water treatment facility is necessary, since it is the one project that will be funded in either scenario. 


Scenario 1: Capital Sales Tax Passes

The proposed 1.25% sales tax is estimated to generate approximately $4.67 million in annual revenue, of which about $3 million each year will be used to repay a $69 million 30-year loan from the Oklahoma Water Resource Board to fund a new water treatment plant. The remaining $1.6 million each year will be used for other capital projects. Should the water treatment plant be less than anticipated, the OWRB loan can be used for other water-related capital projects, such as replacing water lines.


If the sales tax passes, Council has already approved a resolution that would nullify the 82% water rate increase, so it will not take effect. Please keep in mind: this does not mean water rates will never be increased in the future. As costs rise, water rates will, by necessity, need to keep pace. However, dramatic rate increases would be much more unlikely and are not planned by current City leadership. It is the intent of current City leadership to only raise water rates as needed to cover actual water costs.  


Additional Capital Projects – Working, Non-Comprehensive List 



Estimated or Approximate Cost

New Fire Station

Purchase and renovate a building to add a third fire station east of 4th Street

$2 million

New Fire and Police Equipment

Purchase ladder truck, firefighter protective gear, police officer ballistic vests, and police vehicles


Water Main and Sanitary Sewer 

Construction or relocation for Highway 81 bypass 


Pavement Rehabilitation and Road Repairs 

Annual projects: Douglas St., Cottonwood Rd., N 4th St., 14th & Missouri 


Road Resurfacing or Patching and Overlay

16th St. from Pikes Peak to Country Club, 29thSt., from Grand to US62 

$4 million


Capital Project Prioritization 

Projects will be completed as funds are available to allocate, based on priority level. While not all projects will be started immediately due to available funds and cost to complete the project, the projects on this list will be the focus of the tax dollars in the coming years, and some of the projects will indeed be started within the next year. Planning and prioritization of these projects is ongoing.


Projects may be added, either on an emergency basis or as the need should arise. Outside funding will be considered for many of these projects, potentially freeing funding for other projects further down on the list. 


The list of projects is strictly capital – that is, physical improvements to infrastructure or tangible assets. Capital sales tax revenue cannot be used for salaries, day-to-day operating expenses, research, or other general fund needs. 


We know we have a big problem to fix, and prioritizing these projects is not as easy as just “this is the most important” – we need better roads, our officers need better gear, and aging water and sewer lines need to be replaced – these are all critical needs. So, to determine the priorities, we analyze what will make the biggest impact with the dollars available. 


On a day-to-day basis, these project needs and priority level are determined by City Council based on the advice of City staff – primarily our City Manager. Citizens can provide your input by sharing your ideas and concerns directly with your Council Members, either by speaking at City Council meetings or by emailing your elected officials. 


Sales Tax Costs

To help visualize what citizens are looking at with a 1.25% sales tax, below are charts showing current sales tax vs. the proposed increased sales tax. If approved, the 1.25% sales tax would go into effect on January 1, 2024. As a reminder, there will be a net increase of .5% sales tax if this is approved, due to the current .75% sales tax expiring on December 31, 2023. 


Example Subtotal

9% Sales Tax - Current

Total w/Current Tax

Proposed 9.5% Sales Tax

Total w/Proposed Tax






















Expiring CIP 

The expiring .75% Capital Improvement Project (CIP) sales tax was last extended in 2014. This sales tax has funded projects including: 

  • Water and/or Waste Water System Projects: $13 Million
    1. Includes repairs at Water Treatment Facility and Water Line Replacement
  • Street Master Plan and Street System Improvements: $4.2 Million
  • Chickasha Sports Complex Upgrades: $951,921
  • Drainage Projects: more than $618,224
  • Park System Upgrades and Rehabilitation: $373,361
  • Culvert Replacements and Removals: $149,236

Scenario 2: Capital Sales Tax Fails, 82% Water Rate Increase Takes Effect

To secure the OWRB loan for a new water treatment facility, City Council had to guarantee a method of repayment. Without the 1.25% sales tax, the only way Council could guarantee income for repayment was to increase water rates. After analysis, an increase of approximately 82% was determined to be the amount needed to cover the annual debt repayment of $3 million. Because of this, at the same meeting Council voted to call for a vote of citizens to approve the sales tax, they also voted to automatically implement an 82% water rate increase if the sales tax fails. 


The income generated by the 82% rate increase will be designated strictly for the debt repayment and will not be available for any other capital projects. 


The tables below show a comparison of current monthly water rates inside city limits and the approved rates with the 82% increase. Rates would also increase by 82% for customers outside city limits, industrial users, bulk water, and fire hydrant meters; the increased rates for these customers are shown on the City Council resolution.


Current Monthly Water Rates


Water Rates with 82% Increase

0-2,000 Gallons

$23.50 (Base Rate)


0-2,000 Gallons

$42.80 (Base Rate)

2,001 - 25,000 Gallons

$3.50 per 1,000 Gallons


2,001 - 25,000 Gallons

$6.40 per 1,000 Gallons

25,001 - 50,000 Gallons

$3.65 per 1,000 Gallons


25,001 - 50,000 Gallons

$6.70 per 1,000 Gallons

50,001 - 75,000 Gallons

$4.25 per 1,000 Gallons


50,001 - 75,000 Gallons

$7.80 per 1,000 Gallons

75,001 - 100,000 Gallons

$4.55 per 1,000 Gallons


75,001 - 100,000 Gallons

$8.30 per 1,000 Gallons

100,001 Gallons & Above

$5.05 per 1,000 Gallons


100,001 Gallons & Above

$9.20 per 1,000 Gallons