The Oklahoma Eagle Newswire
Due to record-breaking low temperatures, the City of Tulsa is currently working on more than 120 waterline breaks and is asking all of its water customers to conserve water.
Due to this unprecedented event in the history of our water supply and distribution system, and with the number of waterline breaks and the number of customers letting faucets drip, the City’s water storage tank levels are low, which could compromise emergent public safety and healthcare needs.
To address storage tank levels, the City of Tulsa has 35 crews (14 City crews and 21 contract crews) in the field working to address waterline breaks.
The standard protocol when responding to reported waterline breaks, is to partially close water valves to allow customers to draw water at diminished volumes and pressure, but still have water, until the line is repaired. However, this practice allows water to continue to flow from the system, removing water from our storage tanks. With storage tank levels low, crews will have to fully close water valves to stop water loss that is contributing to the low levels in our storage tanks.
Residents that have service on a broken waterline will begin to see service interruptions as crews work to repair waterlines. This is not a citywide service interruption, but only for those residents that have waterlines that are being repaired.
With more than 120 active breaks, we are unable to provide times on when breaks might be repaired, but the maximum amount of crews available are working around the clock with all-hands on deck to repair as many waterline breaks as possible so storage tank levels can rise.
There are other communities who utilize Tulsa’s water system and are serviced by City of Tulsa personnel who are also asked to help conserve.
Those service areas include portions of:
Jenks, Bixby, Owasso, Rogers County, Glenpool, Creek County, Sapulpa, Osage County, Broken Arrow, Hectorville, Turley, Sperry, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Wagoner County and Skiatook.
How to Conserve Water
The City is asking everyone who is on Tulsa’s water system to conserve water, even those in communities who live outside the Tulsa city limits but are still serviced by the City.
Tips to conserve water include:
- Don’t use high water-usage appliances, such as your dishwasher and washing machine
- Refrain from taking baths and long showers
- Keep your water usage to consumption only, such as for cooking, getting drinking water, using the toilet, and letting the water drip to keep it circulating in your pipes
The continued occurrence of broken waterlines in such a short amount time is more than the City has seen in our history. The City appreciates your patience as staff and our contractors work diligently to make repairs and return water service to all customers.
List of Breaks
A list of the City’s current waterline breaks can be found at www.cityoftulsa.org/breakboard. Please note the break board only shows active breaks. Once a waterline has been fixed, the waterline break will drop-off from the list. Up to this point, all residents that have active breaks have seen minimal service interruptions. The City will immediately begin to transition its operation to help increase tank storage capacity.
Check Your Pipes
The extreme cold can freeze your water pipes, so it’s important to stay aware and take steps to protect your pipes and your property. With the potential for power outages, it’s more important than ever to ensure the integrity of your home’s water system.
To protect your water pipes from extreme cold, you should:
- Turn faucets in a position that allows them to slowly drip consistently
- Open cabinet doors below faucets allowing warm air to contact the pipes – this is especially important for faucets located on walls that are on the outside perimeter of your home
- If you normally store cleaning supplies in these cabinets, it’s important to relocate them to a safe storage spot that children and pets cannot access
If water is not flowing out of your pipes, you should:
- Leave faucets open and make sure your cabinets are open
- Leaving faucets open makes sure you can expedite the thawing process
- Apply a safe heating source facing the walls with the frozen pipes in them to warm them up
- Never use a blowtorch or an open flame device to warm your pipes
- Make sure your heating source is away from any flammable materials
- Call a plumber if running water does not flow to your pipes in a reasonable amount of time – if the pipe is located on an exterior wall, it’s imperative to act swiftly
If your pipes burst and water is flowing into your home
- To report a waterline break inside your home to Water Distribution, call (918) 596-9488 – please be patient, as we are experiencing a large call volume
- Do not attempt to shut off your valve at the meter by the street, as turning it off yourself could cause damage to the line itself
- Let Tulsa Fire or the City’s Water and Sewer crews know where your water meter is at the street so they can make the determination on whether they can safely shut it off
- If there is a water shutoff valve inside of your house, you can shut that off to prevent further damage in your home
- If your property is damaged, have your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance information on hand – if you are renting, let your landlord know of the break immediately
Additional tips on protecting your water pipes can be found online.
Multiple crews will be out this weekend working to repair these waterlines. As things heat up and thaw out, the City expects additional waterline breaks to occur as the pipes expand and the ground moves. Please bear with our crews and be patient if you’re driving or if your service is being impacted.