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Town Of Oaks Left Without Water When Well Runs Dry

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Oaks, Oklahoma has practically dried up this summer. Oaks, Oklahoma has practically dried up this summer.
Donna Garner, President of Oaks WaterWorks, says the well is running dry. Donna Garner, President of Oaks WaterWorks, says the well is running dry.
Several agencies including the National Guard have chipped in to help. Several agencies including the National Guard have chipped in to help.
The Cherokee Nation and North East Electric Co-op are donating pallets of water. The Cherokee Nation and North East Electric Co-op are donating pallets of water.

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

OAKS, Oklahoma -- Add Oaks to the list of towns fed up with Oklahoma's cruel summer.  Water, or lack thereof, has caused the town to practically dry up.

Donna Garner, President of Oaks WaterWorks, says the town's well is just running out.

"He told me it was sucking air. That there wasn't enough water running into the well to keep it pumping."

It's the usual suspects this season.  Little, if any, rain, and hot temperatures.

"This is different. This is something we can't fix," said Garner.

But it's dangerous to go without clean water, so the National Guard brought in "water buffalo" water trailers.  The Cherokee Nation dropped off 900 gallons, and North East Electric Co-op donated pallets of bottled water.

"The situation is bad but given the weather. It's even worse. We definitely see the need and wanted to address that," said Clint Branham, with NE Electric Cooperative.

Chelsea Keys, a student at Oaks Indian Mission school, said it's tough dealing with the problem.

"No water. Crappy. I forget every time. I turn on the water, use the bathroom. Toilet's not working. To brush my teeth, the water is barely dripping. It's not cool," she said.

Oaks Water Works turns the water on from 6 to 8 p.m. each night.  President Donna Garner says the water isn't safe to drink, but that's the time for showers, laundry, and cleaning.

A short period of time when you are one of 20 kids living at Oaks Indian Mission.

"There's quite a bit of us in our dorm," said Keys.  "'Oh the water's on!'  So it's a fight to the showers. Yeah it's frustrating."

Oaks Water Works says a proposed plan by the Cherokee Nation would connect Oaks with the waterline in Leach and Twin Oaks.

Cherokee Nation, Oaks Water Works, Delaware County Rural Water District 11 and the Flint Ridge Water district will meet this Friday to discuss the proposal.

Proposal from The Cherokee Nation:

Cherokee Nation's proposed plan, if implemented, would connect Oaks with the current self-help waterline project happening in the communities of Leach and Twin Oaks. The Cherokee Nation would also provide the engineering and construction of the waterline extension. The total cost of the proposal is approximately $262,000.

A portion of the proposal has been requested from Indian Health Services. If funding is approved through IHS, the Cherokee Nation would provide $82,000. The Cherokee Nation has organized a meeting between Cherokee Nation, Oaks WaterWorks, Delaware County Rural Water District 11 and the Flint Ridge Water District to discuss the proposal.

This past week, a water pump failed on the largest well serving Oaks and Cherokee Nation advised the community as they restored water in the short-term. Also to ensure the people have water, the Cherokee Nation delivered 900 gallons of water to the community. Other organizations have also provided emergency water to this community.

During the past five years, the Cherokee Nation has spent more than $18 million on water and sanitation projects throughout the Cherokee Nation. One example is a 66-mile waterline in Leach where the Cherokee Nation provides the materials and technical assistance while the community provides the labor. This waterline will bring clean, safe water from the Leach community through Twin Oaks and to southern parts of Kansas, Oklahoma.

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