Routine hydrant checks turning water brown in Okmulgee

Required fire hydrant checks are turning waters brown for dozens of Okmulgee residents. The fire department said the routine maintenance is annual, also causing water to turn brown every year. (KTUL)

OKMULGEE, Okla. (KTUL) -- Dozens of Okmulgee residents are dealing with brown water coming out of their faucets.

Routine checks on fire hydrants are causing the water issues. The fire department said these required checks are done every year for insurance and public safety purposes.

A representative from the public works department said the discoloration is coming from sediment build-up getting flushed out of old pipes. The office said it doesn’t take long for people to have normal, safe water again -- further explaining that the routine is not hazardous.

Still, people who live in Okmulgee said the routine maintenance is an inconvenience.

“Usually goes away in a few days, but it keeps continuing. We want clean water to bathe and wash our clothes in,” said Bruce Sewell, who said water at his home has been brown for almost four days.

Firefighters will be flushing hydrants across the city, from west to east. This has been an ongoing project for the last two months, and the work is about 80 percent complete, according to public works.

Once crews are finished in a neighborhood, residents should run the tap until they’re water is back to normal.

“Hopefully, they get it fixed. I have faith in them, they’ll get it done,” Sewell said.

Public works said if these checks are not conducted annually, home and business owners could see rate hikes on their insurance.

Anyone still seeing brown water after firefighters have left a neighborhood is asked to call public works. A crew will be sent to the area to assess the problem.

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