Claremore Daily Progress

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August 18, 2012

One Year Later

RWD3 water problems continue

CLAREMORE — As the weather begins to cool slightly the thoughts of drought begin to become a memory but for residents on Keetonville hill the issue is ever present.

During the past twelve months citizens have been fighting an ongoing battle to improve water services to the area.

The Department of Environmental Quality DEQ is reported on August 15 plans to take enforcement action against Rural Water District 3, RWD3 because of the issue.

A complaint had been filed with DEQ regarding the issues and as a result the agency is taking enforcement action due to low water pressure in the area.

The data received from RWD3 confirmed that the water pressure was below the regulatory limit, according to DEQ documents.

Last summer the Claremore Daily Progress reported a number of days were residents had no water to the area.

The issue became circulated among the majority of major news outlets in the area as the heat became more and more dangerous.

A similar situation occurred this summer with little media attention, however the residents in the area have been experiencing periods of low pressure throughout the hottest part of the summer. Some days no water was flowing, yet the response was limited, according to residents.

After last years issues residents showed up in large numbers to board meetings of the rural water district asking for solutions.

District Manager Ricky Stull made multiple statements last year the issue was “under control” and that new pipelines and pumps “ will make a difference if problems occur.”

The system improvements may have made a difference but the problem was not solved, according to residents.

Robert Dorn simply explained the issue, “It is a trust issue, and I don’t have any trust.”

Some residents have reported issues to the district and described the response as “confrontational” as they explain the problem has not been solved.

More than a frustration for the residents, the issue once again became a priority for management when RWD3 began to implement more voluntary rationing measures.

These measure are still in effect as they continue to battle drought conditions.

“The same daily schedule for RWD 3, remains in effect. However, please, water only between the hours of 12:00 a.m., midnight, and 12:00 p.m., noon.

Please adhere to these requests.  If requests are not honored and water usage continues to rise, we will have no choice but to issue hose watering only,” according to the RWD3 website, www. rwd3rogers.com.

RWD3 reports that extreme heat has caused pump failures, power surges and  malfunctioning automated valves have contributed to the issues.

The question the residents have been asking is what is going to be done to fix these issues, especially after 12 months.

A recent RWD3 board meeting revealed a slight change in priorities after the problem has not been resolved.

Stull updated the board concerning current projects.

Then Stull explained he wanted to make a change in their plans as he felt he had made an error, of sorts.

The board voted last month to proceed with efforts to obtain a loan, $1.75 million, to finance the building of a 1.5 million gallon bowl tank in Owasso at Stone Canyon.

Stull said he felt the money would be better used, based on the events of the last month, to finance the balance of the line improvements needed to provide water and medicate low-pressure incidents in the Keetonville water plane.

A number of board members expressed concerns about changing course after agreeing to go after the loan for the tank.

Stull, the consulting engineering firm and the district’s legal council explained this change would allow them to complete all improvements by April 2013 rather than the spring of 2014.

“Although the improvements completed to date have doubled the pumping capacity of the Keetonville pumping station, it was still unable to keep up with demand during peak periods,” Stull said.

A water pressure-reading device had been placed on a customer’s meter in the area and that data showed several days of no water or pressure below 25 lbs. during the first week of August.

This information was directly related to the information received from DEQ.

Officials with DEQ have modified plans for enforcement action, despite DEQ’s response to resident complaints and a letter issued from DEQ  on August 15.

The letter explained that the issue would be referred for enforcement action.

Upon further discussion with Eric Braly of the Claremore DEQ office, it was revealed the information will not be sent to Oklahoma City for enforcement.

“RWD3 has put into place water rationing efforts and voted to improve the infrastructure, since this action is a corrective action no enforcement action will be taken,” Braly said.

Once again residents will be waiting to see if the RWD3 management will resolve the issue before next summer.

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