Heat brings voluntary rationing, power outages

Tuesday, July 22nd 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

Some Oklahoma communities are enacting voluntary rationing programs and others are dealing with power outages because of triple-digit temperatures.

Most municipalities have enough water to handle the present heat wave and won't have to make rationing mandatory, but summer isn't even half over, officials said Monday.

Clinton asked its residents to go on an odd/even watering program and to limit watering to between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Clinton Lake is low, but the rationing program stems from an upgrade to the water treatment plant at Foss Lake.

Guymon has asked its residents to limit water use to alternate days as a preventive measure, City Manager Wayne Hill said.

Last week, a driver knocked over a fire hydrant, causing water to shoot up into the air, he said.

``You lose a lot of water. We asked the community to take a moratorium for 24 hours,'' Hill said.

Oklahoma City residents also are being asked to voluntarily ration their water usage after three days of record-setting water usage.

On Friday, water usage hit 186.6 million gallons, breaking the record use of 185.62 million gallons set on Aug. 28, 2000.

A new water record was set Saturday, when usage climbed to 188.9 million gallons and then again on Sunday when it hit 189.8 million gallons.

Marsha Slaughter, director of Oklahoma City's water/wastewater utilities department, said she doesn't foresee the need for mandatory water rationing.

``We're doing just great, we're really pleased,'' Slaughter said. ``We have some typical problems for this time of year, some line breaks, but not as many as we've had during these times of high usage.''

Residents with even addresses are being asked to water only on even dates and residents with odd addresses to water on odd dates.

Slaughter said its the city's water lines, and not supply, that often lead to rationing.

``When the ground dries, it creates pressure on pipes that are old _ they'll fail structurally,'' Slaughter said. ``And as we increase pressure, that also can impact the pipes.''

El Reno officials on Monday asked for a voluntary cutback on outdoor watering and Edmond officials have been asking residents to voluntarily ration water since June 1.

Newcastle officials are enforcing odd/even water rationing caused by a broken water well.

The heat is also stressing electricity use, too.

About 100 Edmond Electric customers went without power for about four hours late Sunday, said Charlie Burgett, electric utility supervisor. A burned wire connection caused the problem.

Other heat-related power outages were reported Sunday night in Del City and on Monday in Midwest City. Power has been restored to all customers.

Area power providers are holding up well in the heat in Enid, which officials credit partly to the new poles and power lines erected after the January 2002 ice storm.

``Obviously, the newer the system the less likely we have heat-related outages,'' said Christina Dukeman, a spokeswoman for OG&E Electric Services.

OG&E set a new demand record when its 730,000 customers used 5,908 megawatts of electricity in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, Dukeman said.

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