Avant battles through more water problems

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Avant last week experienced its second major water supply outage since Feb. 16, and Mayor Shearl Brinson said Saturday that he hoped service could be restored within another 24 to 48 hours.

Brinson said the initial water service outage, which began Feb. 16 and lasted a week, was the result of a broken water line at Avant Lake. Following repair work, the town built up its water supply to about 75 percent of capacity before pressurizing the system again and beginning to deliver service.

The mayor said that Avant began to use too much water too quickly following the Feb. 23 service restoration. He cited leaks at some residences as an element of the problem, and the municipal fire department’s use of water for fire suppression activities. Additionally, a pump likely overheated, shut down and turned itself to alarm mode, Brinson said.

“We usually use 32 thousand gallons in 24 hours and from 2 p.m. yesterday to this morning we have used 52 thousand gallons,” Brinson said in a post to the town’s official Facebook page at 10:24 a.m. Feb. 24.

By the morning of Feb. 26, Avant residents once again had no running water. Brinson said Saturday that remedial actions had been taken and water capacity was being built up again, this time with a goal of 100 percent capacity before pressurizing the system and restoring service. He said that he anticipated reaching 100 percent of water supply capacity sometime Sunday, Feb. 28.

Avant Public School offered classes virtually last week, with the ongoing situation regarding water service, and hoped to resume in-person activities this week. The school on Saturday posted information regarding Dr. Seuss activities it hoped to hold this week, but acknowledged the municipal water situation was not under its control.

Brinson also clarified for the Journal-Capital that while the water outage that began Feb. 16 complicated the challenges Avant faced during a severe spell of cold weather, the outage did not appear to have been directly a result of the temperature situation.

“It was just horrible, horrible timing,” he said.

Elsewhere in Osage County, progress continued to be made last week in rebounding from water supply problems experienced during the cold weather that began about Feb. 7 and continued through Feb. 19.

The Shidler community said in an online post Friday, Feb. 26, that the Oklahoma Rural Water Association had said things looked good in terms of filtration and treatment of water.