A 60-inch water main broke during sweltering heat Monday, reducing water pressure in northern Oklahoma City, forcing the state to send workers home from the Capitol complex and leading to an outdoor watering ban.
Monday marked the 28th day of 100-plus degree temperatures in Oklahoma City this year. The record for 100-degree days in a calendar year is 50, set in 1980. At least one person has died from heat stroke since the heat wave began, and the high temperatures are suspected in two other deaths. Dozens of people have required medical treatment.
The heat wave is blamed for buckling on concrete roads and highways across the state.
Water main break shuts down Capitol
The water main from the Draper Water Treatment Plant to S Douglas between SE 36 and SE 74 broke Sunday morning. It carries water from Lake Stanley Draper to northeast and northwest parts of Oklahoma City.
The break caused a shutdown of the state Capitol complex Monday when low water pressure made it impossible to run air conditioning systems in several state buildings. Workers in most agencies were sent home at noon.
The city also imposed a mandatory watering ban in a large swath of north Oklahoma City which was most affected by the break.
Those between May Avenue on the west, Douglas Boulevard on the east, the Oklahoma River on the south and NE and NW 50 on the north are forbidden from using water sprinklers and irrigation systems until the break is fixed.
The ban does not apply to those with well water or those who do not use the city's water system.
Debbie Ragan, spokeswoman for the city Utilities Department, said the line should be fixed by Tuesday evening.
She said water main breaks are more common in the heat as pipes expand and contract during extreme temperatures.
“Today was a high water demand day on top of having that 60-inch break,” Ragan said.
“When it is back on line we should see a big difference. The water is taking a longer way around to get where it needs to be.”
Ragan said water pressure could be low in other parts of the city both because of the water main break and general high usage.
Even when the water main is fixed, pressure will be a continued concern as no relief is expected in the prolonged heat wave. Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees for at least the next seven days.
“There is still no indication the severe drought is over,” Ragan said. “We highly encourage citizens to use water wisely, especially outdoors.”
Heat buckles roads, highways
Traffic cones blocked off a lane of Lincoln Boulevard Monday near NE 36 north of the state Capitol after the concrete pavement buckled because of the prolonged heat, officials said.
Mike DeGiacomo, Oklahoma City streets superintendent, said buckling is always a concern during summer months but becomes more of a threat in a prolonged heat wave like the one that has hit the state this year.