Downtown Tulsa's water main break impacts small businesses

Thursday, December 8th 2005, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa city utility crews are still battling broken water mains all over Tulsa with a new problem. Officials say for every break there are dozens of leaks further down the line that also need to be fixed, so it will be quite sometime before our water system is fully repaired.

There is some good news though. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says the good news is the water is back on at all downtown businesses.

The sudden three day shutoff hit small businesses the hardest; many had to close up shop. Thursday, water began flowing again and that was a welcome sight for those business owners.

Debbie Higgs: "I'm so happy to be able to wash the dishes, you wouldn't believe." After almost three days of turning customers away. "Sorry, but we’re gonna be open tomorrow, we got water now." Debbie, who is the owner of the Route 66 Cafe, is relieved to re-open. "When you're in business for yourself, every day counts. It's been very, very hard."

Higgs says not only has the lack of water stopped the flow of cash coming in the door, it's also forced her staff to go without work right before the holidays. "It's gonna be very slim pickings for Christmas.”

Debbie’s cafe is just one of several businesses getting back to work after the big break.

Although water service has been restored, as you may notice, there's still a giant hole in the ground. That's because a group of live electric cables is sitting on top of the broken water pipe. And to get down there and fix it, crews would have to shut off power for most of downtown. So they found a way around it, putting in an extra valve just before the break, restoring service to all except a nearby parking garage.

For now, they’ll keep pumping water out of the hole to clear the way for PSO workers, so they can continue the long process of restoration. Officials say having everyone back on line takes a bit of the pressure off the downtown job, so they can rush to all the other breaks that keep popping up as long as the temperature stays way down.

At last report, ten more water lines snapped across the city Thursday. Crews hope to get those under control, then fix the downtown trouble spot by running a new, smaller main through the larger broken one, avoiding electric cables altogether.