A social media post by McAlester Mayor John Browne states although water tower levels are consistent, conservation efforts should still be taken to help restore water to Rural Water Districts. 

"The system is still filling and water towers levels are consistent," Browne wrote. "Water is traveling through town and more customers should start seeing a return of service. Conserving water is still the most important step we can take to help. Conserving will help us get water out to the rural districts as well." 

Rural Water Districts 5,6,7,9 and 16 all purchase water from the city of McAlester and are affected by the water shortage and outage. 

11:45 a.m. 2/20/21

McAlester Mayor John Browne said the city is addressing open car washes and sprinkler systems being used in the city during ongoing water conservation efforts. 

"The Car Wash and sprinkler situations are being addressed," Browne wrote in a social media post. "They were supposed to have been informed this morning. PD is contacting them now." 

In an earlier post made Saturday morning, Browne said water levels in the city "have made gains in the towers over night" but urged residents to continue conserving water. 

"Contractors and crews were able to finish 9 repairs yesterday and are out to more today<" Browne wrote. "Water pumping from the plant has remained steady. We appreciate your support and will keep you updated as the situation evolves today." 

6:39 p.m. 2/19/21

City officials said in an alert sent out to McAlester residents that the city "may see some water tonight" along with continued pleas for water conservation.

"PLEASE PLEASE continue to conserve & put off chores such as dishes & laundry. With your help, the system can recover," the alert states. 

McAlester Mayor John Browne in a social media post said the city is having a "production/consumption problem." 

"We have made some strides today in repairing leaks and we have identified even more," the mayor posted. "The amount of water we have going into the system is not keeping up with the consumption at this time." 

Browne said the city currently has the ability to provide water to everybody if conservation efforts were followed. 

"It takes just over 3000 gal per min production for normal use. If we continue to use as much as is being produced we cannot fill the system. We have areas that do not have water still and it is not because of leaks, it is us using too much right now," Browne wrote. 

The mayor asked everyone to conserve. 

"Please think about others and put off any usage you can. In most cases washing clothes can wait, dish washing can wait, baths and showers can be put off for many of us. Help us get service back to everyone and conserve as absolute much as possible," said Browne. 

10:39 a.m. 2/19/21

McAlester residents without water will be able to bring their own containers to the Krebs Fire Department to gather water today and Saturday. 

According to Pittsburg County/McAlester Emergency Management, the City of Krebs and KFD "have graciously offered to allow residents who are still without water to come to the Krebs Fire Department and fill your own containers." 

Water will be availble at KFD, located at 10 North Ash in Krebs behind the city's city hall until 4 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

This comes after an alert sent out to McAlester residents said that the water system was still very low. 

"More than 20 leaks in repair. Please do not wash dishes or run washing machines. Please keep helping by conserving water," the alert stated. 

7:45 p.m. 2/18/21

City crews discovered a large leak in McAlester believed to be a contributor to major water loss issues.

McAlester Mayor John Browne said crews found a leak in 12-inch transmission line near the Expo Center with water flowing into a creek. He said the leak is believed to be a major part of the problem, but city crews will still address more than 20 leaks tomorrow to help resolve water loss issues in McAlester.

"That leak in itself wouldn't be the cause of the entirety of the water we were losing," Browne said. "The combination of the two problems should help resolve the problems."

Officials still urge citizens to conserve water and turn off faucets to allow the system to build pressure overnight.

Browne thanked city employees for their continued work on the issues.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.

Crews and contractors are set to address more than 20 leaks in McAlester on Friday.

McAlester Public Information Officer and grant writer Stephanie Giacomo said crew did not identify the source of a large leak and it was too early to tell if major water loss could be attributed to the number of leaks identified. But the city is addressing the ones found as of Thursday evening.

“We do have our crews set to be joined by multiple contractors tomorrow to start fixing leaks," Giacomo said. “There’s more than 20 leaks throughout the city and those will start to be addressed bright and early in the morning.”

A large water loss event started Wednesday morning and lost 1,000 gallons per minute at one point. Crews searched for the source of a large water leak throughout Wednesday and Thursday to no avail.

An alert from the city Thursday starts with "please, please, please" before asking citizens to not use water and turn off faucets to allow the system to build pressure.

“If citizens see water come on, that’s great — but please don’t fill those bathtubs, don’t run that washing machine,” Giacomo said. “Let the system recharge so that we can get it to our citizens.”

Giacomo said four contractors will each be paired with six utility maintenance crews to repair leaks throughout the city.

Precautionary boil orders were issued for the City of McAlester and the rural water districts that purchase water from the city around 9:05 p.m. Wednesday night.

Similar boil orders were issued for Kiowa and Atoka County RWD #1 (Wardville), according to Pittsburg County Emergency Management.

Water systems throughout the state experienced water loss due to the winter weather, according to the Department of Environment Quality.

Many more systems and customers could be impacted as temperatures rise and frozen pipes thaw, leading the DEQ to anticipate emergency response for several weeks.

“Unfortunately, we expect the number of precautionary boil advisories and, potentially, mandatory boil orders to increase over the next few days. In order to assist Oklahoma’s drinking water systems, the State Environmental Laboratory will be operating seven days a week to analyze additional samples to ensure safe water,” DEQ’s Water Quality Division Director Shellie Chard said in a press release.

The DEQ recommends a precautionary boil advisory when a water system experiences low pressure or no water.

Water systems often issue such orders for safety of customers when known leaks compromise the system. The DEQ issues mandatory boil orders after a violation of state and federal drinking water regulations.

More information on boil orders is available at www.deq.ok.gov.

UPDATE: 11 a.m.

A City of McAlester representative said officials are begging citizens not to use water after a large leak.

"We're literally begging people not to use water right now," McAlester Public Information Officer and grant writer Stephanie Giacomo said.

She said the city asks citizens to not use water and turn off faucets in order to build pressure in the lines.

An alert from the city starts with "please, please, please" before asking citizens to not use water.

Workers continue searching for the cause of major leaks and city staff have responded to several other smaller leaks throughout the week.

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.

McAlester city workers continue searching for the source of a major water leak Thursday morning, according to a city representative.

"City workers are out searching grid by grid, ward by ward, line by line," McAlester Public Information Officer and grant writer Stephanie Giacomo said Thursday morning. "They're in the city, they're in our outlying areas and they're doing everything they can to find the source of this water leak."

City officials said the major leak started Wednesday morning and was losing 1,000 gallons per minute at one point.

Precautionary boil orders were issued for the City of McAlester and the rural waters districts that purchase water from the city around 9:05 p.m. Wednesday night.

Similar boil orders were issued for Kiowa and Atoka County RWD #1 (Wardville), according to Pittsburg County Emergency Management.

City officials said workers responded to several smaller leaks throughout the week and again Thursday morning.

"So not only do we know we have a big one, but we have lots of smaller ones," Giacomo said.

Officials said anyone with knowledge of a water leak in city limits should immediately report it by calling dispatch at 918-423-1212.

UPDATE 9:05 p.m.

A precautionary boil order for McAlester was officially issued at 9:05 p.m. Wednesday after a large leak in the city.

Officials sent an alert late Wednesday of a precautionary boil order issued for the City of McAlester and the Rural Water Districts that purchase water from the city.

City officials said a major line break losing 1,000 gallons per minute left some citizens without water or with low water pressure.

"Due to a water line break and a resulting loss of pressure in the water system and the potential for contamination as a result of this situation, the drinking water supplied by the City of McAlester and reliant water districts may be unsafe for human consumption," officials said in a statement. "As a precaution, it is advised that the consumers of this water system bring the water to a full, rolling boil for at least one minute before drinking, consumption, food preparation, baby formula preparation, dish washing, tooth brushing, ice making, wound care, and bathing infants who may ingest bath water. Alternatively, bottled water or another acceptable water source may be used.

Officials said the advisory will remain in effect until further notice. Anyone with questions about the water situation can call the McAlester Police Department at 918-423-1212, officials said.

UPDATE 8 p.m.

City officials said workers continued searching late Wednesday night for a leak in McAlester that was losing 1,000 gallons per minute.

Assistant McAlester City Manager Toni Ervin said an apartment complex on West Street was the only area completely out of water as of late Wednesday and the city was working to locate the leak.

“We’ve found one major leak that we think might be the one we’re looking for and we have crews on their way now,” Ervin said late Wednesday. She said the potential leak is in a field near the East Wade Watts underpass of U.S. Highway 69.

Ervin said the large outage started Wednesday morning and around 15-20 city workers searched for the leak throughout the day.

She said officials believed they located the leak in main lines on the north side of town, but city workers walked or drove along the lines and didn’t locate one.

“It should be a lake, very apparent if it was on top of the ground,” Ervin said. “So we’ve looked in different storm drains throughout town and just stayed contact with people in different areas to try to locate where the problem might be.”

A separate precautionary boil order was also issued for Kiowa and Atoka County RWD #1 (Wardville), according to Pittsburg County Emergency Management.

RWD map

A map shows the Rural Water Districts in Pittsburg County. 

Officials ask citizens to conserve water unless someone has an immediate medical need.

Ervin said the city also identified up to nine smaller leaks overnight to also repair those throughout Wednesday.

She said a major outage usually leads Summit Ridge to run out of water first, but “they have plenty of water right now.”

McAlester city officials ask citizens to conserve water as workers attempt to locate a large water leak.

Officials said cold weather complicates water outage reports as it could be a leak, frozen pipes, caused by a city line issue, or other issues.

City workers have responded to water outages and leaks throughout the week due to the freezing temperatures, officials said.

Officials said anyone with knowledge of a water leak in city limits should immediately report it by calling dispatch at 918-423-1212.

Leaks not reported to the city dispatch will be known to city staff.

This story will be updated as more information become available.

The following is a full press release from the city:

The City of McAlester has a large water leak in an unknown location. We are asking citizens to take immediate water conservation actions in their homes and businesses. Unless a member of your family has an immediate medical need, please avoid filling bathtubs or buckets with water as the action could further deplete the water supply on standby. Please put off running water-reliant appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines until the issue has been remediated.

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