OK communities struggle to fund water projects

Posted at 12:33 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 13:33:52-05

Oklahoma communities are fighting for the money they need to repair a major water problem.

A 2 Works for You investigation revealed a decade of water quality issues in Barnsdall.

Now, help is on the way.

One Barnsdall resident, Mindy Russell, collected water for the town as the boil order continues.

“This was the least I could do, it was the most doable thing,” Mindy Russell, a Barnsdall native said.  

For most like Russell the tedious task of gathering water is imperative.                  

“I just wanted to make sure there was safe drinking water,” Russell said.

Unfortunately, this solution is just a band aid for a bigger issue as high contaminants still exist in the city's drinking water. 

The use of old equipment has been found as the source of the issue. Next month, Barnsdall will build a new filtration system costing more than $500,000.

“I think we're on the right track,” Barnsdall Mayor Brock Moore said.

It’s being funded mostly through grants with the help of a loan.

“I just want citizens to have faith in us,” Moore said. “We're doing the best we can, people have to realize money is tight.”

More than a hundred Oklahoma communities are fighting for grants, but supply isn't keeping up with demand.

“The resources, both statewide and federally, have been going down,” Barbara Albritton said.

Albritton is an INCOG grant writer, she blames state budget cuts for the problem.

Currently the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is only offering $59,000 to communities she works with.

“That really doesn't go very far to fixing some of these high dollar problems,” Albritton said.                

Barnsdall is third on the list and probably won't get funded this year, but they can still apply for millions in federal grants.

“I mean we're throwing it all out there, so anyone that's willing to help, we'll take their help,” Moore said.

Barnsdall still needs other expensive improvements to permanently fix their issues.       

But in the meantime, they'll gladly accept help in the form of bottled water from Russell and her friends at Owasso's Central Baptist Church.            

“I would just hope for the people there's something that comes along to fix it for a good long time to come,” Russell said.

If you would like to donate to the church’s effort, you can do so on GoFundMe.

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