On Thursday, a six-inch main break crippled water service in Luther. Crews replacing natural gas lines for Oklahoma Natural Gas hit an unmapped underground water line, crushing several feet of PVC on SW 3rd between Main Street and Apple.
The line break was several feet underground and hemorrhaged thousands of gallons of water right at noontime. In a show of teamwork, many pitched in to help, including the nearby Town of Wellston. Even the gas line contractors pitched in along with Luther Police Chief Johnny Leafty, Fire Chief Joseph Figueroa, Assistant Chief Craig Johnson, and Town Manager Scherrie Pidcock, who were all on the scene, while Court Clerk Valarie Braxton and Utility Clerk Cathy Schmitz worked the phones at Town Hall. Shout out to Wellston for having the needed pipe in a piece long enough, exemplifying the importance of a friendly mutual aid agreement between the towns. LPWA’s Brian Proc climbed into the muddy trench to replace the pipe and had it fixed by 3 PM.
Unfortunately, the break drained the water tower, so it took extra time for the whole system to fill back up. By evening, most customers had water again, and water pressure was expected to be normal on Friday.
Although an inconvenience, Schmitz said most customers were understanding. Many Luther businesses used reserve water for hand-washing stations and other operational needs. Other businesses had to close, losing productivity and sales. That’s tough for any small business. Lost sales hopefully will be recouped by customers showing support with intentional patronage.
There is some good news about Luther’s aging water system. In December, the town received word its grant application for a water valve replacement and enhancement project would be funded later this year. The project is designed to prevent system-wide outages for future repairs and maintenance. The $99,999 project is one of three grants awarded to the Town of Luther.
The funding comes from the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) for communities with populations under 7,000. Grants were also awarded to the Town of Luther for constructing a new public works facility, and new sidewalks near Luther Public Schools.