Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

September 27, 2013

Strange twist led to water outage

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — What started out as a simple project to redirect a water line as a part of a construction project, temporarily left most of Pauls Valley without the resource a week ago.

The plan, as a part of the Department of Transportation’s State Highway 19 east bridge replacement, was originally supposed to start with a new water plant connection for the Old City Lake water line before doing the same for Longmire Lake, according to City Manager James Frizell.

However, it was only after the water forced its way through near the connection that it was discovered that the construction company, Brown Construction, had not reinforced it enough to handle the pressure and it was Thursday morning, Sept. 19 when it broke.

“What they failed to do is they failed to put proper thrust blocks at the connection so when the water hit… the constant pressure against the connection finally caused it to burst loose,” said Frizell.

“It took 24 hours, but when it blew, it blew.”

The delay lasted until early Friday morning despite efforts to initially find a temporary fix until replacement parts arrived, but when that failed the plan then shifted to go ahead with finishing the line to Longmire, said Frizell.

Most of the town still had water throughout the early part of the day and it wasn’t until afternoon when reports of low water pressure and no water came in first from the lower lying areas like downtown.

“Plan A failed so we were basically out of water,” said Frizell, noting how the water ended up being off for about 20 hours by the time it was back on and it was the first time in the several decades he’s been here that something like this happened.

“They worked from 8 o’clock to 12 o’clock tying in Longmire Lake to get that connection running.”

The water collection towers actually had enough water to last temporarily, but the shortage eventually caused several businesses across town to close early before water flow was restored, said Frizell.

He added how there were quite a few phone calls, but people were generally understanding when they were told what happened.

The connection to Old City Lake should be established soon when the replacement parts arrive and there are no further outages expected as the second connection has held with no problems.

“This is the first time we’ve been without a water source,” said Frizell, pointing out how once the water was reconnected, the newer treatment plant didn’t take long to get things filled back up.

“This is not going to be something that happens here and there, this is really a fluke thing and I want to assure everyone.”