OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Darned if you do, darned if you don’t. With city leaders asking to help “slow the flow” by only dripping indoor faucets along exterior walls, and plumbers saying that’s not enough, Oklahomans are getting mixed messages when it comes to how best to handle the water crises arising from the snowstorm.
“See if you can step back the water usage,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt Wednesday during an online update to the city’s severe weather response.
The snow and freezing temperatures are causing water problems across the board.
“All of us being home, all of us dripping our faucets, has elevated the usage levels to really summertime levels,” Holt said.
In Oklahoma City’s water district, twice the amount of water is being used than is normal for this time of year. While city officials said the system is capable of meeting such high demand during the summer, regularly scheduled wintertime facility repair has reduced system capacity, creating a ripple effect across the metro.
“If you run your faucets, try to consider this. Run your faucets that are on exterior walls to keep the pipes from freezing,” said Oklahoma City Utilities Director Chris Browning. “If you don’t have faucets on the exterior walls, run one or two interior to keep your water service line from freezing, but try not to do anymore than that and try to keep the stream about the size of a pencil lead.”
But since Monday, plumbers who have talked to KFOR have had different advice.
“It’s kind of a catch-22,” said Zachary Crowll of Plumbtastic Solutions. “How do you do that and at the same time you’ve got to keep your faucets running?”
Because when water is allowed to reach freezing temperatures, the molecules expand into ice that has been bursting pipes across the state.
Crowll said running hot and cold water together with a stream about the size of a pencil is safest.
Meanwhile Browning is asking people to use as little as possible to prevent a worsening water pressure problem for everyone.
Mayor Holt said the best thing to do is reduce water in other ways, like taking shorter showers and holding off on laundry or using dishwashers for a few days.