Repair work begins on broken water main

LAWTON-- The work to repair the broken water main in east Lawton officially got underway Wednesday afternoon. The city is crediting mother nature for keeping the ground dry enough so they could move their backhoe, drilling, and other equipment into a muddy field next to East Cache Creek where the break happened. Within just a few hours, crews had already made significant progress towards drilling a hole underneath the creek. That's so they can install a new water line and bring some much needed water pressure back to the east side.

The city's hoping to have this first phase, a temporary 12-inch water line, completed by Thursday or Friday. Once that's done, people will definitely notice more water pressure. However, the permanent fix will likely take several weeks.

"The goal today at least as a minimum, to get the pipe in underneath the crossing under East Cache Creek," said Lawton Public Works Director Jerry Ihler.

To run the pipe, the city is using boring machinery to dig a 450-foot long hole. "We're drilling, if you will, much like in the oil field, a directional bore and we're trying to go about five feet under East Cache Creek and the come out on the other side," said Ihler.

Sonar equipment helps the workers track the drilling progress, both on the ground and under the water. Once the hole is complete, a 12-inch water line will be threaded back through and tied into the existing line and the situation will improve for thousands of residents.  "Their pressure will go up. It won't be exactly where it was, but it will be more than adequate pressure," said Ihler.

As of Wednesday evening, Ihler said crews did get the hole completely drilled through. They're going to try and install the pipe on Wednesday, if the weather cooperates. Again this only a temporary repair. In the next few weeks, a 24-inch water line will be installed. That's the same size as the one that broke. Also, it's going to be in a steel casing to better protect it.

As far as the the price tag, it costs $30,000 for the temporary line and about $200,000 for the permanent 24-inch line. The city council okayed the repairs during Tuesday night's meeting.