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City Flushes Water Hydrants for Water Safety

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LAWTON, Okla._Driving around Lawton, residents may have seen several fire hydrants gushing water.

Many citizens want to know why the city would be wasting thousands of gallons after being asked to conserve water, but city officials say they have no choice. It is all an effort to make the city's drinking water safer.

On average, when the city flushes a water hydrant, it releases 50,000 gallons into the streets. While that sounds like a lot to waste, Lawton residents use at least 20 million gallons each day. City officials told 7News that without flushing the hydrants, the city water could become unsafe.

"We want the water that comes through the tap to be safe," said City of Lawton's Afsaneh Jabbar.

Jabbar said the recent flushing of the hydrants is simply a part of the city's maintenance process. A part of ensuring the water is safe for Lawton residents to consume.

"Their safety and health is at stake. We have to make sure that there is disinfectant present at the tap," said Jabbar.

So, every once in a while the city is forced to change to a stronger disinfectant for a short time. But transitioning back means the pipes must be cleared of that chemical.

"When we go back to our normal disinfectant, the two disinfectants that are in distribution they interact with each other. Interacting means they consume each other, and when they consume each other it means there isn't anything left to safeguard the health of people," said Jabbar.

This process of ensuring proper chemical ratios is tedious. The city tests the water at least 200 times each day, and releasing the water from hydrants is just what the city must do.

"We are not doing it because we just want to. We have to do it to assure their safety," said Jabbar.

However, the current drought, low water levels at water sources like Waurika Lake, and the city's requests for people to conserve makes some question the process. However, city officials see this having no major effect.

"We probably have used a small percentage of the total water that we treat everyday, and it does not have that kind of effect in the whole picture," said Jabbar.

This process will take roughly 9 days for the City of Lawton to complete. If a person lives in a part of the city with low water consumption rates, the process could take even longer.

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