Low water levels, stuck valve creating water problems in Holdenville

Wednesday, July 30th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOLDENVILLE, Okla. (AP) _ A busted valve and low water levels in the lake that supplies water to Holdenville have forced residents to boil their water and take other emergency measures.

Although few people have lost water, about half the residents in the Hughes County city have low water pressure, Mayor Jack Barrett said Tuesday. Water is not being rationed but people are voluntarily using less.

The high school football field hasn't been watered lately, and the pool is closed. Military green water tankers wait outside Holdenville General Hospital and the city's two nursing homes.

Ina Stringfellow, who works for Rural Water District No. 3, said some customers are worried their water will be turned off.

``They haven't gone thirsty, but I'm sure some of them went to bed without a bath last night,'' she said.

Holdenville Lake, which supplies water to the city and surrounding area, has dropped about 10 feet, and the only drain that can release water from the lake is broken.

Three valves release water from the lake. One valve is above the water line, and another is buried under lake sediment. The middle valve is the only one that could drain water from the lake, but it isn't working.

The drain hasn't been used for more than 20 years, Barrett said. The valve could be broken, blocked or plugged up, city officials said.

Divers from Oklahoma City are scheduled to inspect the valve and give the city a repair estimate Thursday. Barrett said he doesn't know how long crews will need to fix the valve.

The lake level is about 38 feet _ 10 feet lower than normal, Barrett said. Run-off water is the lake's main supply, but there hasn't been any run-off to keep the lake levels up for more than a year, Barrett said.

Lack of rain also has caused the lake level to drop.