OKLAHOMA CITY — At the end of Tuesday, both Oklahoma City and Tulsa city governments were issuing statements because of city-wide water pressure issues.
Residents in both cities were on edge due to rolling electricity blackouts Tuesday and the failure of one of the OKC water plants over the weekend that dried up water lines in half of OKC for about a day.
And so, city officials were working late into the evening to dispel rumors while acknowledging real problems with the water systems and their efforts to keep pressures up to safe levels for fighting fires.
Oklahoma City’s water supply is still producing water for most residents who don’t have private water line breaks. But, residents started to complain city-wide Tuesday evening about low water pressure, which was still low Wednesday morning.
Oklahoma City Fire Department Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson told Free Press Wednesday morning that the water pressure was low but he had not heard about any issues with responding to a fire.
“If there is an issue, we can always bring in our tankers to respond to a fire,” he said.
At 9:23 p.m. Tuesday, the OKC Utilities Department sent an email to customers acknowledging the low water pressure and encouraging them to “…please do not use high-water demand appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers.”
The email repeated what spokesperson Jennifer McClintock said in a news conference earlier in the day that the OKC water system was “running at typical summer demand levels.”
There was no further explanation as to why the city’s water system could stand up to summer demand levels in the summer but not at the present.
“Since Saturday, we have responded to more than 300 service calls closer to 400,” said McClintock in the press conference. “But only 32 of those have been breaks to our system. That means the majority of the calls that we responded to were from freezing lines in individual homes. It could have been plumbing lines or service lines in people’s yards.”
Late Tuesday, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum got involved directly issuing a public statement to combat rumors that the City of Tulsa was about to shut off water “citywide.”
“Have heard from a number of Tulsans about a rumor going around that the City [Tulsa] is going to shut off the water supply citywide. That is absolutely not true,” read the statement.
He went on to explain that the city was shutting off water to around “120 active water line breaks.”
“The normal practice of keeping water flowing through broken lines is not sustainable in this environment,” wrote Bynum.
Bynum said that the water shut-offs would not affect Tulsans unless there was a water line break near them.
Repair crews working
Both cities have been working their water line repair crews in miserable conditions to keep water flowing.
The OKC news release Tuesday night said, “our crews are helping turn off water for thousands of customers who are experiencing private line breaks.”
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