Oklahoma City issues voluntary boil order through weekend
The city of Oklahoma City has issued a voluntary boil advisory, following a statewide Oklahoma DEQ recommendation for municipal water systems struggling with low pressure and service interruptions due to the cold weather.
The advisory was to remain in effect through the weekend. Officials said they were confident city water was safe.
"We have confidence our water is just as safe to drink as it has always been,” Utilities Department Director Chris Browning said. "But out of an abundance of caution, after consulting with DEQ, we think this voluntary advisory is appropriate."
Browning stressed the advisory primarily was aimed at areas that were without water service for an extended period.
The Utilities Department samples water monthly at 240 sites looking for signs of contamination, Browning said Friday afternoon. The department was intensifying testing in neighborhoods where service was interrupted.
Getting results takes 24 hours. If any tests show heightened risk, residents will be notified, he said.
Otherwise, the advisory expires at 10 p.m. Sunday.
The city issued a statement saying the advisory was "part of a statewide recommendation from the DEQ due to widespread water system outages related to the extreme temperatures across the state."
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Advice for consumers seeking details could be found at deq.ok.gov, under the "News and Events" tab.
"Oklahoma City has its own testing laboratory where it monitors and tests water quality on a continual basis," the city's statement said.
It said the Utilities Department follows "very strict protocols" to ensure water quality when water mains are repaired and placed back into service after a break. Crews had worked two new breaks by midday Friday.
"Our water quality and systems engineers have been in daily contact with DEQ and are confident our water is safe," it said. "Low water pressure does not compromise water quality."
Residents who had no water service during this week’s interruption and who want to follow the voluntary advisory should boil and cool water before drinking it, cooking with it, brushing their teeth with it or ingesting it in any way.
DEQ recommends boiling the water for one minute, then allowing it to cool to at least room temperature.
Browning said Thursday utilities crews had responded to 17 water main leaks and two water main breaks in the previous 24 hours. Breaks were repaired near OU Medical Center and in The Village.
More breaks are inevitable as temperatures moderate, he said Friday.
Utilities increased system capacity this week by 25 million gallons per day, to 175 million gallons, by returning to service equipment that had been down for routine wintertime maintenance at the Hefner water treatment plant.
The additional capacity provided enough water to put a booster station in northwest Oklahoma City back in service.
Browning said water pressures were improving slowly citywide.
Storage depleted by demand of more than 140 million gallons per day, double the normal February load, was being replenished.
Norman returned its water treatment plant to service overnight, around eight hours after freezing temperatures caused a pipe to burst Thursday afternoon. City officials had warned of low water pressure and asked residents to shut off dripping faucets.
Oklahoma City officials on Thursday asked residents to cut back on dripping faucets, by limiting those in-home precautions to exterior walls only. Browning estimated dripping faucets alone could be contributing 50 million gallons to daily water demand.
He said overnight water demand had continued at rates double what is usually seen this time of year.