Morning rain hinders Lawton city's water main work

LAWTON-- More rain is keeping city crews from fixing the broken water main on Lawton's east side. A new pipeline arrived Monday, but crews aren't able to install it because of the early morning rain.

Currently the city is supplying all of East Lawton with water through a 10-inch pipe under Gore Blvd. That's after the primary 24-inch pipe under East Cache Creek broke Friday night.

But having half the city rely on one pipe has caused the east-side water tower to run dry -- so now they need residents across the city to conserve water in order to keep the east side flowing.

People on the east side have some water flowing now -- but there is hardly any water pressure. Taking a shower is like washing your hair with a garden hose, and they can't run washing machines or dishwashers because there simply isn't enough water to fill them. And hand-washing is out of the question because the faucet barely drips.

Broken water mains are something the city has had to deal with before -- but this time was worse. "Come to find out it was our main 24-inch line that happens to go underneath East Cache Creek," said City Councilmember Keith Jackson. "It just broke."

The city isolated the break, and for the last three days all of East Lawton has been surviving off of one secondary 10-inch line, which has sucked their water tower dry. So now they're turning to lawton residents for help. Even if you're not on the east side of town, they're asking you conserve water, especially during peak daytime hours, essentially from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some of the biggest things you can do are turn off your automatic sprinklers -- don't wash your car -- and even take a shower later in the day if you can.

"Just give us a little bit of time so we can catch up the system," Jackson said. "And it's working, but we just have to catch up the system." Jackson says water conservation should only last through this week -- but the repairs to the primary 24-inch pipe are temporarily on hold.

"But the problem is, we can't get access to the area because of the swampland and the rains won't give us a break," he said. A 12-inch pipeline arrived today, and Public Works Director Jerry Ihler said city workers spent the day fusing the pieces together. Ultimately that pipe will go under East Cache Creek and temporarily improve the water pressure problems on the east side.

"Nobody likes to have 20 P.S.I on their water," Jackson said. "It's just dripping out of the faucets and barely filling the toilets. So just a little bit of help and we'll recover fast."

You'll remember last year the water main breaks were due to the drought -- with the hot, dry soil shifting and breaking the pipes. This time Jackson says the rushing water in the creek exposed the pipe -- eroding it until it broke. So to prevent future breaks -- the city will encase the new 24-inch pipeline in a 30-inch metal sleeve. And remember, a boil water advisory is still mandatory for Garden Village. And it has been recommended for all people living in East Lawton as a precaution until the water near the break tests negative for bacteria and lye.

Again, the city is asking everyone to conserve as much water as you can.