The city of McAlester is seeing some progress with its water issues, but challenges, including a voluntary boil order, were expected to continue during the weekend.

Nearly 50 leaks were reported as of early Saturday.

Initially there were reports of 21 water line breaks or leaks, followed by reports of an additional 27 on Friday, for a total of 48, said city of McAlester Public Information Officer/Grant Writer Stephanie Giacomo. These are leaks that have been reported and work crews will have to confirm if they are actual leaks or water line breaks, she said.

"We had some water gains overnight," Giacomo said early Saturday.

The water flow to town is stabilizing and the city is seeing some progress in trying to refill the towers, she said.

"These are good indicators the towers are filing up," said Giacomo. Still, with concerns that multiple sites will begin using larger quantities of water, the city is again renewing its plea for water conservation.

"We run the risk of that being depleted"as people get up and begin using water, Giacomo said.

"If we can put off washing those clothes or running the dishwasher a while longer," the towers will have a better chance of filling, she said.

The voluntary boil order for city of McAlester water customers, including rural water districts the city serves, is likely to continue through the weekend, Giacomo said. The McAlester/Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management identified rural water districts which get their water from the city of McAlester as as Rural Water Districts No. 5,6,7,9 and 16.

Water samples were not expected to be gathered to send to the laboratory for testing until the city's major water line breaks and leaks are repaired — and that's expected to take a while longer. Municipalities from around the state are facing the same challenges, which could lead to a backlog in the water-testing labs.

As of Friday night, contractors had completed nine water line repairs and were in-progress on five more, said Giacomo.

"They're going to work through the weekend," Giacomo said of the contractors and city crews working on the lines.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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