Residents of the Rural Water District #10 attended the meeting of the board of directors on Thursday to find out what the board plans to do to fix the lack of water in the district due to leaks. Residents have been left most nights without water for the last three weeks.

According to Jeremy Brown, district plant supervisor, "we're not that far. Right now we are at 35 galloons a minute, but if I (completely) open the pipes, we will be out of water in just a few hours."

Brown said the district encompasses land from Sailboat Bridge north to the Ottawa County line and Highway 125 east to the lake.

The Rural Water, Sewer, Gas and Solid Waste Management District #10 met for a regularly scheduled meeting but changed the time to accommodate a presentation from engineer Valerie Rogers who will help the district with their preliminary engineering report.

The water system, which was installed about seven years ago by a company in Tulsa, has left these residents with a water system that is only getting about a third of the water it pumps.

"I'm not completely shutting down the pumps, just giving them less pressure," said Brown. Unfortunately, this leaves many residents such as those who live in the Sunset Hills area which is a little higher, without water. The board explained that there is not enough mainline pressure to push water to their homes.

The board is in the process of installing water meters to help determine pressure and true water disbursements.

"Last year we fixed 86 leaks," said board secretary/treasurer Ron Carder. Carder also explained that the fire department is aware of the problem. He said that if there is a fire they will immediately return the pumps to full pressure.

Board member Woody Woolridge added that many of the board members have been helping with repairs on their own time. The board is made up of volunteers.

One option the board is looking into is the possibility of receiving a grant to help with the repairs. In order to receive the grant, they are required to receive a preliminary engineering report and income report.

"I know that many of you received the letters. It is very important that you fill those out and return them," said board Chairman John Meyers. Meyers said 270 letters were sent out a random selection of district residents and the must receive 51% returned.

Part of the problem is the district is having is being unable to find the leaks. Many of the pipes are buried four to seven feet underground and thus the water leaking from the pipes is not reaching the surface. Myers explained that once the leaks are found, they are fixed correctly and not a problem again.

One resident is so distraught he said he has thought about suing Jeremy Brown and other personnel for knowingly turning off water.

"If the system was put in right we wouldn't be here discussing this today," said Myers. "It's a bad deal and getting worse. This board inherited this."

"We're on a better road than we've been on for a long time," he said.

Board member Andy Helms said they are looking into e-mail blasts and website updates as a means to notify residents of water levels and pressure. Residents are encouraged to keep an extra supply of water on hand for the times when the water is off.

"We went back to well water because this is too inconsistent," said resident David Poindexter. "The previous board had good intentions but this was just poorly installed," he added.

Poindexter is not alone. Several residents have resorted to returning to their well systems, however others don't have the funds to make any needed repairs to get their systems going again.