Since October, the Altus Water & Sewer Maintenance Department has had more than 187 work orders for water leaks and water main breaks. According to Chief of Operations Bob Stephenson, so far this year there has been an average of 10 or more water breaks more this year, compared to last.
Stephenson produced a report showing 178 work orders - 40% of which were completed after normal operating hours, where workers received overtime pay. Between October 2012 and January, 45% of work orders continued after hours.
Stepheson explained that this year feels like they are flooded with an increased amount of work orders, however, last year they just had more man power, so things were handled a bit quicker.
“Some areas are more problematic than others,” said Stephenson. “A lot are random too,” he added. Tools like a map board, that hangs in their office, illustrates how many breaks there have been since June 2012, and where they have occurred.
The map reveals the “Presidential” section, where streets are named after presidents, and the English Village and surrounding areas, have seen more water leaks than other areas of town. He pointed out that newly developed sections at the northern edge of the city rarely have these issues.
“Intuitively it seems like there are more leaks,” explained Stephenson. But when you look at the map board and computerzied reports, “it shows it is less dramatic.”
Stephenson expects the amount of water breaks to continue at this pace. Even though the increase of line damage seems coincidental, “we go through this every seasonal change,” he explained. Stephenson explained that when the ground shrinks due to lack of rain, it causes pressure that damages the aging pipes.
“Last month we hired contractors, and substantially reduced the amount of time to complete each call,” said Stephenson. The Water and Sewage Department has an indefinite contract with Shoe String Enterprise who can offer bids should they be utilized when an overflow of work orders occurs.
Stephenson is awaiting an up-to-date report with a total amount of costs in dollars to include employee time, size of job, equipment used, and damages and expenses of recent months. These statistics allow for planning, and seeking grants and funding for projects.
The Water and Sewage Maintenance Department is responding to work orders in a systematic fashion by prioritizing the most severe cases.
Residences currently experincing any water leaks please contact the Water and Sewage Maintenence Department at 580-481-2252.