Extreme Cold & Increased Water Usage Pushes OKC's Water System To Breaking Point

Wednesday, February 17th 2021, 5:14 pm
By: Jennifer Pierce


Oklahoma City's water system has been pushed to the limits, according to city leaders.

Couple the extreme cold and higher than normal water usage, the city’s utilities director said it created a recipe for problems across the metro. 

Oklahoma City Utilities Director Chris Browning said utility crews were currently working on five water main breaks. The extreme cold weather has caused 31 water main breaks over the last three days.

On top of that, Browning said they have received hundreds of service calls, many of which were due to frozen or busted pipes.

The city has doubled the normal water usage for this time of year to more than 150 million gallons a day. The increased demand has put a strain on booster stations causing lower water pressure across the city. Work in the field is taking longer than normal to repair breaks and mechanical issues.

“Water main breaks are taking longer to repair because ice and snow is cover the valves making them harder to locate,” Browning said. “The freezing temperatures are creating challenges for the crews where we have to rotate crews out so they can warm so they don’t get overexposed.”

Browning said even when the weather warms up, the city will continue to experience water problems. That is mainly due to the soil freezing and thawing around lines.

Browning asked citizens to conserve water usage by running faucets on exterior walls and keeping the stream the width of a pencil lead.