Wapanucka residents express water woes

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WAPANUCKA, OK - School is canceled Thursday in Wapanucka due to the town's ongoing water problems. It's been almost a week since the city's water source ran dry.

Wednesday, residents met with the city council and water officials to voice their frustrations. The city attached a line to the Atoka Rural Water District Tuesday as a temporary fix. Now, residents are suggesting connecting permanently to Atoka's supply. And while they know that could mean higher rates, they said it would be worth it to have dependable water service.

"We need water now!"

Frustrated residents filled the Wapanucka Community Center Wednesday night after being left high and dry for almost a week. Ronnie Turner's water has been on and off in the past two weeks.

"When we do get water, it's not potable water. Wapanucka water, as far as I'm concerned along with several people in town, are saying that it's not even fit to drink and it isn't," he said.

Cathy Perry said water has always been an issue in Wapanucka, but now, the city is at a standstill.

"It's horrible, it's debilitating. The businesses can't operate, the restaurants are shut down, they're losing money and people can't prepare food at home either. You're just at a loss," she said.

Wapanucka's fire department has been supplying residents with water since the spring dried up last week, but both Perry and Turner said there wasn't enough and they had to cross county lines to get drinking water.

"I drive to Durant and we buy our water from Walmart in the large plastic jugs and that's where we get our drinking water," Turner said.

"I had family members that just live across the county line and they get the rural water that we're wanting from Atoka so I go there and shower. So I've been blessed to have someone local who can help me and I can do my laundry," said Perry.

Oklahoma State Representative Charles McCall attended the meeting and said water loss is a common problem for small towns like Wapanucka because they get their water supply from spring-fed wells.

"We're in a drought cycle, a lot of our streams and springs and wells are drying up because of the drought and this is just another example of why we should be so careful," he said.

Residents suggested the city tap into the Atoka Rural Water district permanently but officials said they will need to apply for grants or loans to build a water line. But McCall said, it's possible to get state funding sooner.

"Because this is an emergency situation, there will be emergency funding available for them which will allow them to start on this project immediately," he said.

If Wapanucka gets their water from Atoka, city officials said rates may go up, but residents said they don't mind.

"I'm paying a lot for my water not able to use it and I buy bottled water and I have for years. I'd rather have good quality water and pay for quality water," said Perry.

"I hope we get to town Atoka water permanently. Yes I understand the rates will be more, I can put up with that," said Turner.

Council members would not talk to us on camera, but said they will have another meeting to discuss the water issue and any options to resolve it sometime next week.

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