By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Alva residents hope they will have more water soon as the city deals with electrical problems affecting its well pumps.
“We have water kinda,” Alva City Manager Joe Don Dunham said Wednesday. “We have electrical issues in the wellfield, and those issues are now critical.”
Monday’s blizzard dumped more than 22 inches of snow on the area, and high winds created drifts several feet deep. Power lines and poles across northwest Oklahoma were downed in the storm, disrupting electrical service in the area.
Part of Alva’s wellfield is served by OG&E Electric Services and part by Alfalfa Electric Cooperative, Dunham said. A Western Farmers substation went down Tuesday because of the snow.
“To my knowledge, it came back up late (Tuesday). I talked to Alfalfa Electric (Wednesday) morning and when they throw the circuits on, it throws it back out,” Dunham said.
There are lines down between the pumps and the substation, and crews cannot reach the area due to the snow, he said.
Alva has been operating on reserves from its storage tanks for the last two days. A portable generator became operational Tuesday night, and a second one operational Wednesday morning, giving the city at least partial water service.
Those two pumps will have about half the wellfield operational, Dunham said. City crews are evaluating whether to go get a third generator to make things more comfortable, he said.
One of the generators is owned by the city of Alva and one is being rented. The third generator could be obtained from a local business.
“We’re trying to stay on top of it as we can,” Dunham said.
The city currently has low water pressure, but Dunham said residents are “getting along.” Considering the weather and the road conditions, Dunham said city crews reacted as quickly as they could.
Alva resident Eckley Phillips said Wednesday afternoon he had not had water since early Wednesday morning.
“I got up at 6:30 with no water. I called the public works at 7 a.m., and they said the pumps went down south of town at the water field. The electricity is out so the pumps are down,” Phillips said.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University started classes Wednesday, then canceled because of the water issues.
Steve Valencia, NWOSU associate vice president for university relations, said the school canceled classes Wednesday after officials learned of the water problems.
“Classes were originally scheduled, but about 6:45 (Wednesday) morning we became aware there is a potentially serious water problem. We sent texts to students and others that we were canceling,” Valencia said.
Classes are planned today at all three NWOSU campuses.
Fairview City Manager Paul Southwick said the community has electricity. Power was restored about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. There are “a couple of businesses and a dozen or so,” people still without power, but Southwick is optimistic they will be restored by Thursday.
Fairview receives power from Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, through Western Farmers transmission lines. He said OMPA sent ground crews to help restore power.
Fairview water is not short, but there are problems in the wellfield, which is powered by Cimarron Electric.
“They are having more problems. They have power back to the wellfield. We have one generator and two days of storage,” Southwick said.
Fairview has 1.3 million gallons of storage and about 1,700 users, which he said gives the city about three days of water.