Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 15, 2011

City places outdoor water restrictions on rural portion of southwest Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater’s water utility is asking customers in the Rural Water Corp 3 service area to only use water outdoors between 7 to 11 p.m. after two water towers have dropped to surprisingly low levels earlier this week.

Stillwater Utilities Director Dan Blankenship said in an interview Monday that he didn’t anticipate any water restrictions given the way the system was operating. There had been some low pressure issues in the Rural Water Corps 3 area, he said, and there were plans to replace a pump station to boost the pressure in that area.

Later in the week, Stillwater Utilities Authorities crews saw the two water towers located just north of 44th Street between Range Road and Country were not being filled.

“When I was in there (Friday) afternoon, there was about 5 feet of water in the two 80-foot towers,” Blankenship said.

The problem, he said, is that the water mains installed decades ago for sparse rural development are falling behind due to the ever-increasing number of homes and subdivisions.

“It's a direct result of the urban-scale-density growth where the infrastructure is not built for it,” Blankenship said. “(The lines) physically do not have the capability of carrying the demand.”

Many of the subdivisions and homes in the area have a 6-inch line, he said, but they are being fed by water mains that are between 2.5 and 4 inches.

The towers are filled by a pump station near 32nd Street and Range Road. The two pumps at the station have a very small discharge pipe that feed the towers. The SUA had already planned to replace the station, Blankenship said, but work won’t be finished for another two weeks. In the meantime, crews installed a larger diesel pump with a larger discharge pipe Friday.

“We're hoping that this larger pump and discharge pipe will allow us to fill the tanks if we have people (cooperate with the voluntary restriction),” Blankenship said.

Friday evening, Blankenship said Water Utilities Director Anthony Daniel inspected the tanks and told him the level had come up significantly. The water level in the tanks was up to approximately 50 feet, which means the tanks were roughly 60 percent full. Blankenship said he was optimistic this was an indicator that they were approaching the problem the correct way.

A crew member will constantly monitor the tank levels as well as pressure in the nearby Woodlake and Nottingham subdivisions, he said. Blankenship said he is concerned that, if the power pump sucks too much water to refill the tanks, it could adversely effect nearby areas that also use the line.

Any long-term solution to the limited infrastructure in the RWC3 would involve replacing the inadequate water mains with larger lines. Money from the water capital fund is earmarked to eventually replace all the water infrastructure in Stillwater, including the RWC3. That fund comes from the difference in water utility rate increases recommended from the Beck Study.

The SUA has already used some money from that fund to finance the short- and long-term solutions proposed to fix the water pressure issues, which arose last summer in some southwestern neighborhoods.

The current issues in the rural water district with the exception of Hidden Oaks are unrelated to last year’s pressure problems, which were isolated to new subdivisions.

The Stillwater City Council agenda was amended Friday afternoon to include the discussion of possible solutions to the problem in the RWC3. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Council Hearing Room of the Municipal Building, 723 S. Lewis St.

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