Many in Western Carter County facing water outages, reduced pressure after winter storms

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
News alert

Winter storms have created water supply issues for citizens of Western Carter County. While the major water infrastructure does not appear to have been heavily damaged, the snowball affect of numerous burst pipes at homes and businesses across the area — many of which were not discovered until late in the week after temperatures started warming and people returned to work — led to massive leaks. The leaks were too much for the system to handle which led to reduced water pressure or no water at all.

Much of Western Oklahoma including Ratliff City, Tatums, Graham, Milo and Fox receive their water from Western Carter County Water and Sewer who in turn receive their water from the City of Davis. According to social media posts from Friday and Saturday water has been restored for much of Davis, however areas that are farther out are either without water or have water at extremely reduced pressure.

Davis City Manager Andy Holland explained the situation.

“Basically Davis makes water not only for the city of Davis, but a couple of rural districts also depend on us. So our water actually pushes out all the way to Ratliff City,” Holland said. “We have a capacity to make 1.6 million gallons a day and our pumps are running full blast. By looking at the numbers that means each house and business is pulling an awful lot of water. It’s not any of our main lines.”

Holland said the biggest issue came from burst pipes at homes and businesses.

“Houses that are built on slabs were mostly fine, but those built over a crawl space were breaking because a lot of those pipes are not fully insulated,” he said. “So their pipes froze and it was leaking under their house and they didn’t even know about it. On Thursday we found at least three businesses that were flooding because they had been shut down and did not know about it.”

In an video update posted to the City of Davis Oklahoma Facebook page on Friday, Holland said the city has received between 30 and 40 calls from residents asking the city to turn their water off after they discovered the leaks. He said by turning off those lines, the pressure has been increasing.

He also stated that some city waterlines have also been damaged, so he asked anyone who sees a water leak — whether at their homes or in the streets — to report it to Davis City Hall at 580-369-3333.

Meanwhile many in Ratliff City and the surrounding outlying areas remained without water as of Saturday afternoon according to social media posts.

Ratliff City Police Chief and Emergency Manager Robert Thornton said this amounts to as many as 250 taps within Ratliff City itself and 400 additional taps supplied by Western Carter County Water and Sewer.

He said the main priority was finding and reporting any leaks. In the mean time Ratliff City and many of the surrounding smaller communities have free bottled drinking water that is available on a first come first serve basis.

Despite the undesirable conditions, Thornton said the situation would be even worse without the assistance of the many volunteers who have assisted local and county agencies with water deliveries and welfare checks.

“Ratliff City has been operating with a crew of five full-time employees, and we’ve all been doing all we can,” He said. “The county has also been really good and their dispatch have been fielding all kinds of calls for welfare checks. Paul Tucker with Emergency Management has also been doing everything he can to help. But we couldn’t have done it without the volunteers. Our volunteer firemen and other volunteer agencies are full of great people who are bending over backwards to help everyone out. Some of these volunteers are working all day in their pastures or the oil patch, and then they’re coming in to spend six to eight hours helping stockpile and deliver water — and they’re doing it all on their own time.”

On Friday evening the Town of Ratliff City posted to their Facebook page that a voluntary, precautionary boil advisory has been put into place for when water service returns to the area.  Drinking water is available for those in need. Those who are elderly, disabled or without a vehicle can contact city hall at 580-856-3599 to arrange for delivery.

For those affected by burst pipes, water outages, and other damage created by the winter storms, help may be available from FEMA. President Biden approved Governor Stitt’s request to declare all 77 Oklahoma counties federal disaster areas, clearing the way for federal aid to be directed to the state. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management is requesting that residents impacted by the storm report property damages online at damage.ok.gov.

Both the City of Davis and the Town of Ratliff City are posting regular updates about the water situation on their Facebook pages which can be found at facebook.com/CityofDavisOklahoma and facebook.com/Town-of-Ratliff-City-748493581877114.