SWOK dealing with water issues after winter weather

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:48 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Across Southwest Oklahoma, many towns and utility crews are dealing with the aftermath of severe winter weather.

The main concern has become water.

Sunday morning, many Lawton residents woke up to low water pressure or none at all. Water demand in the City right now is nearly double what it usually is in the winter.

The Director of Public Utilities Rusty Whisenhunt said residents should be conservative with water until tanks are full again.

“If it blows up in your front yard and you see it, we get a call, but if it’s out in an area that’s along Fort Sill, I had people walking the truck lanes across Fort Sill because it’s out in remote areas, you can’t drive through there, so they were walking miles and miles of water line,” Whisenhunt said.

Several hundred private line breaks and air leak valves increased water demand drastically and depleted the City’s water supply.

He said the largest line break crews found was 10 inches, near Pecan Valley.

Crews are still working to identify smaller line breaks, but one problem is people can’t tell the difference between a line break and snow melting.

“If they see water running around their house,” he said, “it could very well be a private water leak that they’re paying for the water on that they make think is just snow melt.”

In Medicine Park, nearly the entire town was without water from Sunday until about 3 p.m. Monday.

The Fire Chief and a local business owner recruited some help from the community to install a new six thousand dollar pump.

The Mayor of Medicine Park Jennifer Ellis said water is slowly coming back online for residents.

“It was determined that our two pumps had failed when we lost supply from the City of Lawton,” Ellis said.

Since last Tuesday, broken water lines led to flooding classrooms at Geronimo Elementary School.

Geronimo Elementary School Principal Amy Harrison said thanks to the community, they plan on resuming classes on Wednesday.

“Last night, we posted a couple pictures and we had several, probably 20 to 30 community members that came up with their shop vacs and brooms and started helping us clean that area, so fortunately, we’ve had lots of help,” Harrison said.

If you’re a Lawton resident and suspect you may have a water line break, call 580-581-3419. Even if it’s after hours, let it ring and it will be transferred to dispatch.

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