Problems with the city’s aging water system were thrown into stark relief Tuesday when a water main ruptured, leaving citizens and businesses without water for hours.

 


Problems with the city’s aging water system were thrown into stark relief Tuesday when a water main ruptured, leaving citizens and businesses without water for hours.

City Water Superintendent Jack Beaty said that the 50- to 60-year old 12-inch water line running from the water plant to the town’s east water tower ruptured after the ground shifted, pushing the pipe into a rock and tearing open a 4 foot long gash.

“Probably about 200,000 gallons were lost before we got it turned off,” Beaty said.

The city launched a $33,000 project last month to create an updated map of the city’s water system, with global positioning system coordinates of each water valve.

“This was so close to the water plant, we had no way of piping around it,” he said. “Most of the time you have valves where you can shut sections of the city off, but not in this case.”
A construction crew was called to the scene to help dig out the pipe and remove the rock upon which it had ruptured. Beaty blamed the recent extreme weather fluctuations for the ground resettling.

The city found out about the rupture when teachers from the Oklahoma School for the Deaf called to complain about low water pressure. The entire city went without water from noon until roughly 8 p.m.

“We tried to give everyone as much advance notice as we could, so residents and businesses could draw some water up,” Beaty said.

Similar situations in the town occurred throughout 2009 when water leaks necessitated the entire system to be shut down, as the locations of many shut-off valves have been lost to time.

Beaty said the city plans to use Community Development Block Grant money to replace sewer lines in 2010, after which it would apply for more grants to replace the aging water lines. The mapping project is set to finish within the next four months.

“This was normal maintenance on an old water system,” he said. “It could happen again tomorrow.”