McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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August 15, 2011

Stuart’s water issues continue at RWD 2 meeting

McALESTER — The Hughes County Rural Water District 2 will be having their scheduled meeting today at 7 p.m. in the Stuart Senior Center to discuss ongoing efforts to resolve Stuart’s water issues.

For the last few years, the RWD 2 has had issues with low water pressure, terbidity and brown water, but over the summer the problem has worsened and some people have reported going without water for as long as 30-plus days.

The Oklahoma Water Resource Association has hired a contractor to help RWD 2 bring there water system up to Department of Environmental Qualities standards and to meet the Department Environment Quality notice of violation demands.

Within the last few weeks, water has now been restored to all homes; however, the district is still under a boil order.

Saturday, the McAlester News-Capital received the following press release from Attorney Teresa Pratt on behalf of the RWD 2.  

“The Hughes County Rural Water District Board would like to go on record saying that they are desperately working around the clock to correct the many problems which affect the water system which serves the residents of Stuart and the surrounding areas,” Pratt said in the press release. “Unfortunately, the system was neglected for several years before the current board took office.”

“The water source is surface water of poor quality, the water treatment plant is old and had been allowed to fall into disrepair, and the distribution lines are like those of many rural water districts — many of them need to be replaced,” Pratt said. “Funding has been a problem for years. The water rates charged in the past did not produce enough revenue to allow the water treatment (which is very costly) and proper maintenance of the system.

“For approximately four years, this board has worked to put together a grant/loan package through the federal government that will allow the district to purchase a plentiful supply of water from two existing wells and to drill two more additional wells to supply good quality water, which will require very little treatment.”

Pratt said, “The district will see significant savings just on water treatment chemicals because of the difference in the quality of the well water.

“Those savings will enable the district to put more funds toward maintenance and improvement of the distribution system,” she said.

“The loan and grant package was closed last Monday, Aug. 8 in the engineering offices of Muhlberger and Brawley in McAlester.

“Work should commence on the project within a few days. The drought and record-breaking temperatures, with increased water demand and the water line breaks always seen in such conditions were simply too much for the aging system.

“The district had hoped to be able to keep safe water flowing until they could tie into the wells in approximately 6 months,” Pratt said. “Mother nature didn't cooperate. Now the district has been forced to spend man hours and its limited funds to try to bring the system and its water back to DEQ quality standards.”

To read more of Teresa Pratt’s press release, see Monday’s issue of the McAlester News-Capital.

For any questions contact MJ Brickey at mjbrickey@journalist.com.

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