East Lake residents concerned about underground water problems

East Lake residents concerned about underground water problems

LAWTON, Okla._Residents of a new housing addition in Lawton are looking for answers after a water leak has started causing property damage.

It has been a problem in the East Lake neighborhood near Northwest Cache Road and Flower Mound Road for almost two years. In those two years, residents have constantly contacted the city and neighborhood developers, but they say no one was offered any assistance.

Figuring out where the water is coming from is the million dollar question, and no one can really seem to figure out where exactly the leak is. All that the residents know right now is that it's an underground leak that is affecting the foundations of several houses across the neighborhood. The residents are hoping the city will get involved and figure out exactly what the problem is.

"Water is constantly flowing down our street. It never stops and it's creating issues for our entire neighborhood. I've been very frustrated because I feel like I've been running up against a wall," Esther Palmer, an East Lake resident, said.

For two years, Palmer has been calling the city looking for answers. She says during that time, the city has been reluctant to help.

"I've talked to city code enforcement, and they suggested that I talk to the water board. And then I call the water board and they say you need to talk to water distribution, and I've done this like four times," Palmer said.

Assistant City Manager Jim Russell went to the neighborhood Thursday to meet with the residents and figure out exactly what happened. He says the city was not intentionally giving the residents the run around, and that it was likely that each department was unsure of which other department would be best equipped to handle the problem. Russell says he hopes he can help the families get through these frustrating times.

"If I was the homeowner, and I had been dealing with this for a while, I would be frustrated too. I'd be wanting to know what the answers are, where it's coming from. The repairs that are needing to be made are costly and repetitive, and that gets very frustrating and I totally understand that," Russell said.

In all, there are at least seven families in the neighborhood that have some kind of property damage from the water. Jan Williams and her husband bought a house in the area with the intention of it being a retirement home. But now the bricks on the outside of the home are breaking and the walls on the inside are cracking. Williams has done everything she can think of including hiring a structural engineer from Oklahoma City to complete a full report on the home.

"His findings back us up, we have water that unless it is taken care of, our house will never be right. So, we'd like to be able to know our home is secure, but at this point we have a problem and we need help getting it fixed," Williams said.

Russell says that the city ran more tests Thursday afternoon to see if it was in fact city water that has been leaking, but says they plan on running more tests to really get to the bottom of the problem.

"That's what I want to do for them is to help them get the answers they need and that they're searching for. To get a resolution for the problem, to get the issues that they're dealing with for the last two years resolved and finally fixed once and for all," Russell said.

The residents are desperately hoping to finally be able to get the problems fixed and move on with their lives, but with everything they have gone through with the city, they are understandably a little skeptical.

"I'd like to say that I'll have complete peace about it, but I know water and unless the fix is really a good fix, water is going to come back," Williams said.

"We have to deal with this issue every day. We're living with it and I would just like some resolution," Palmer said.

Russell says that the tests were completed Thursday afternoon and results are expected by Friday. He says by Monday, the city should have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to fix the problem.

Russell says that if you are getting frustrated with a city problem not being fixed, you can call his office at 580-581-3301 and he will put you in contact with the right person for the job.