Claremore's $3 Million Water Facility Sits Idle, Residents Have Questions

Friday, August 3rd 2012, 10:18 pm
By: News On 6

While the city of Claremore asks for voluntary water rationing, Claremore's City Hall is dealing with another water problem.

Residents have been paying for a multi-million dollar water treatment facility that has never worked, and some may not even realize it.

Next to Claremore Lake, you'll find the city's two water treatment plants.

The old one works, the new one doesn't.

"My concern with this facility is that it's sitting idle—defunct," Claremore City Council member Paula Watson said.

Watson is heading up a committee at the request of the mayor to get answers on why no one was held accountable.

The new facility cost more than $3 million and was part of a nearly $9 million bond in 1998.

That bond has been refinanced several times. It's scheduled to be paid off in 2035.

"Our city is having to pay on a bond payment close to $500,000 per year for this to sit empty and not be used," Watson said.

7/25/2012 Related Story: City Of Claremore Having Water Pressure Problems Due To Heat

Completed about 12 years ago, city staff ran this plant for eight months and encountered two problems.

Claremore Lake had too much organic material for the new filtration system.

The alternative was to treat water pumped in from Oologah Lake. But when the city mixed the Oologah treated water with the Claremore treated water, a surplus of Iron Manganese turned the water black.

The city shut the plant down.

Claremore resident Ray Akin said he was asking the same questions as Paula Watson when the city started having problems with the plant.

"I find it just a little disconcerting that the people of Claremore never wanted to do anything about it, never wanted to hold anyone accountable," Akin said.

Unfortunately, the city said it is past the statute of limitations to hold the engineer or construction company accountable.

"It's very frustrating," Watson said. "I feel our citizens deserve the answers, because this is part of our quality of life." 

Claremore has hired an engineering firm to study whether both plants can ever work together with their water source and how much that project would cost.