Washing And Bathing Deemed Only Acceptable Water Uses In Colbert - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Washing And Bathing Deemed Only Acceptable Water Uses In Colbert

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COLBERT, OK -- Residents in one Bryan County town have been paying an "improvement fee" for years, but now they're being asked to cut their water use again, and it could last all summer.

A town water tech says the state told them to stop using two "test wells" they were getting water from, plus use is going up for the summer. We asked town officials about the crisis at a council meeting tonight.

"It's no big panic. It's the same thing every year," says council member Terry Bell.

A water alert for residents in Colbert was posted at Town Hall. "Please conserve water. No un-necessary water use of any kind other than bathing, washing etc." the notice states.

"They need to listen to the water superintendent and the water tech. They're giving them instructions on what to follow," says Mayor Roxanne Reed.

"We're just wanting the people to conserve water. Just use it for bathing, et cetera. Don't waste water," says town water superintendent Gary Morrow.

"We can't get enough water out of the ground. We have two wells that we're not able to use right now, and so we're going to have to address that and get those back online," says town water lab tech Jerry Harrell. "Still, even with all those wells going, it's still iffy because we just have a small aquifer."

"Just try not to use up a whole bunch of water, basically. Don't go out and water a field," says Bell.

Some residents tell me they're upset about the problems with the water, while for others, it's something they've come to accept.

"You get used to living in a small town and you know, it happens," says Kevin Polk.

"Government can only do so much, you know. God's gotta make it rain," says Bob Wagener.

"I understand you need to conserve it, like not water your lawn all the time, and things like that, but if you pay for it, you oughta be able to use it!" says Virgia Reich.

"That's not what I want to hear. I want to hear why. Not when, but why?" Marylin Miller asked at the meeting.

"During summer months, it's around 300,000 gallons a day, and so we're up to that level right now," Harrell answered.

One resident asked about the long-running $12 monthly fee for the water Improvement Fund listed on bills.

"It's just a drop in the bucket, to tell you the truth," says Harrell.

"Do you know what that's for? Can you talk about that?" we asked Mayor Reed about the fee. "No," says Reed.     

Council member Virginia Parrish says the fee funds improvements to the aging system.

Harrell says they dug a new well last year down into the "Antlers Aquifer."

"Unfortunately it was about 7,000 parts per million salt," says Harrell.

Now the town is using about 8 wells under the water tower, Harrell said.

Reed deferred questions to the two men working on the water system. "They know the business. I trust their judgment," says Reed.

"This could last most of the summer," says Morrow.

"So there's nothing else you would want to tell the people at all?" we asked Mayor Reed. "I have nothing to say," says Reed.  

Harrell says it can cost $40,000 to hire an engineer, and you don't know if you're going to find water.

As for that salty well, he says they would have to use "reverse osmosis," which is probably too expensive for the town.