The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 27, 2013

City: ‘Shutting off residential water at noon is not a possibility’

Staff reports
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In a scene reminiscent of “Ice Road Truckers,” workers are digging their way into well fields west of Enid and making progress to avert a water supply shortage in Enid, City Manager Eric Benson said.

“Our guys are out there busting their ass trying to get in the well fields,” Benson said.

Shutting off residential water at noon is not a possibility, Benson said, but officials aren’t ready to sound the “all clear” yet.

“We never said we were going to shut anything off,” Benson said.

Following Monday’s blizzard, the city of Enid suspended service to all industrial clients Tuesday, and officials are urging prudent residential usage to keep the city from running out of water today.

Industrial users Koch Industries, AdvancePierre and Oxbow Calcining were shut off at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Enid City Manager Eric Benson said.

“We haven’t restarted water to industrial users yet,” Benson said.

Blizzard conditions interrupted power to electric-driven pumps in well fields in Drummond, Ringwood and Cleo Springs, Benson said. That electricity doesn’t come from OG&E Electric Service but from rural electric cooperatives.

On Tuesday, the city ordered 10 specific generators from Dallas to arrive before dawn Wednesday. Benson said the plan is to use the generators to put some of the city's best-producing wells back into service to recharge storage capacity.

Meanwhile, Benson said residential pressure is reduced intentionally.

Due to 2 feet of knee-high snow, Steve Kime, director of marketing and public relations for the city of Enid, said OG&E anticipated Enid’s water flow wouldn’t return to normal until late Wednesday or into Thursday. The situation “could really present some challenges in the community,” he said.

Normally, 65 to 85 wells are operating. Currently, eight to 10 wells are up and running in Garfield County, giving a cushion “by the skin of our teeth,” Benson said.

OG&E and Vance Air Force Base have been working with the city and other electric cooperatives to remedy the situation. Benson said he is “very optimistic” considering OG&E’s critical improvements.

Koch offered to provide a couple of dozen generators, and Vance gave two generators to pump from a Ringwood well, he said.

“We can pump water from the Ringwood well for a much needed buffer,” he said.

It’s a slow process of wiring, hooking up wells and moving to the next one.

“With nearly 200 miles going to different wells, it’s a time-consuming effort,” Benson said. “For now, we’re holding our own with the water with everything we were able to get back online last night.

“With this new assistance and capability, if we get them hooked up, we should be manageable by this afternoon. We’re cautiously optimistic service will be returned to all users, including industrial.”