The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 27, 2013

City officials continue to urge reduced water usage

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The city of Enid expects to resume normal water production in the next 24 to 48 hours, and city officials are asking for residents to cut back on water usage in the meantime.

Water production was reduced drastically Monday night when a blizzard knocked out power to the majority of Enid’s water wells in Major and western Garfield counties.

Thick snow and muddy ground conditions at remote well locations slowed progress Tuesday and Wednesday in restoring power to the pumps, but the supply of water to the city never was completely shut off.

Industrial water supply was shut off Tuesday and domestic water pressure intentionally reduced by half to conserve water in the city’s storage system.

City of Enid Director of Public Works Jim McClain said the city normally produces water at about 60 psi at the water plant. In order to conserve available water supply that has been reduced to 30 psi.

“That’s a normal reduction in pressure you’d expect to see with the reduced amount of water we have coming in,” McClain said. “There will be a pressure reduction that people will notice. When we get back to normal we will raise back up to about 60 pounds of pressure at the water plant.”

But, despite stopping industrial supply and reducing pressure, city water consumption actually has increased over the last two days, McClain said.

McClain said the city normally consumes 10 to 11 million gallons of water per day, including both residential and industrial use. Industrial supply was stopped Tuesday, but total city water consumption still topped 12 million gallons on Monday and Tuesday - almost 2 million gallons per day more than normal.

McClain said he wasn’t sure why so much water was being used, despite repeated city pleas for the public to conserve water.

He said the reduced supply coming from the city’s western wells hasn’t been able to keep up with the increased residential usage, even with city water pressure cut by half.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, McClain said the city had approximately 9 million gallons of water in storage - less than 40 percent of the city’s total storage capacity of 23 million gallons.

“It hasn’t allowed us to catch up with our water storage,” McClain said of the increased water consumption. “We strongly request that people settle down on their water usage. It would help us out a lot, and help the guys working out in the field, if people would just take a common sense approach to how they’re using water.”

McClain said households cutting back to normal usage or less would help city crews catch up to demand and begin to refill city storage.

McClain said residents can take some simple steps to reduce water:

• Don’t wash clothes or run your dishwasher until you have a full load.

• Don’t leave taps running when not in use.

• Take shorter showers - about five minutes.

“It’s not anything earth-shattering, it’s just simple things,” McClain said. “And, there’s not an issue of us not having enough water available. We just don’t power to those pumps.

McClain said city, OG&E and AEC crews are “working as hard as they can to get everything back on as soon as they can.”

The city of Enid on Tuesday ordered 10 generators from Dallas to power the water pumps. Generators from the city, Koch Industries and Vance Air Force Base were added to the supply Tuesday, but McClain said the task of reaching and connecting generators to the downed pumps is labor intensive and hampered by snow and ground conditions. He said city and utility crews would be working around the clock until normal production is resumed.

“Everyone needs to conserve water as much as they can until then,” McClain said, “and hopefully by the weekend we’ll have everything back to normal.”

In an email update provided by city of Enid director of marketing and public relations Steve Kime, Enid City Manager Eric Benson reported OG&E expects to have all wells in the Ames and Drummond fields back online today.

A generator also was being placed at the city’s Imo pump station Wednesday to pump water to city storage.

Kime said total production capacity should be back to 4.5 million gallons per day today, and should resume normal capacity after the remainder of the wells are brought online under normal power, possibly by Friday.

Benson said Wednesday evening he is encouraged by the progress that has been made thus far, “especially given the circumstances.”

He said city and utility crews still were cutting their way snow drifts Wednesday to reach remote well sites.

“They’re having to do that for miles in some cases, through 2-4 feet of snow, clearing a path so a truck can deliver a generator,” Benson said.

“It’s been a superhuman response from our city crews, from OG&E and from Alfalfa Electric (Cooperative), and we’re very proud of them all,” Benson said. “The city and the community of Enid and Garfield County owes all of them a huge debt of gratitude.”

Benson said he is “cautiously opimistic” all water service, including industrial supply, may be restored to normal levels by tonight.