Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Konawa, the Small Town With Big Water Problems, Gets a Little Assistance

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Justin Johnston, a wastewater treatment plant operator in Konawa, Okla., crouches next to a decades old sludge pump during a tour of the town's water systems in December.

The city of Konawa will fix two wells and build new water lines with a state grant issued last week, the Ada News reports:

The grant, from the state’s Rural Economic Action Plan program, will be used to extend the well casing and build an elevated platform for the pumps and controls on two of the town’s nine water wells, and to construct seven-tenths of a mile of water lines, blueprints show.

The $98,435 grant will do little to fix the city’s ongoing water issues. The city of 1,300 faces millions in repairs to its aging water system, city manager Rita LoPresto told StateImpact in December. Konawa’s water system — like those of many small towns in Oklahoma — was built in the 1930s, when federal money for such projects surged. Much of the south central Oklahoma city’s water infrastructure is still from that era.

If the federal government revokes the State of Oklahoma’s authority to regulate drinking water — which could happen if the state Legislature doesn’t appropriate $1.5 million to help cover the costs of complying with three EPA rules — Konawa could face $15,000 per day fines for water pressure problems, LoPresto told StateImpact.

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