The replacement of a decades-old waterline going through one of Enid’s oldest neighborhoods officially has begun.

Residents of Southern Heights, city officials, representatives of state officials and others gathered at Grayson Baptist Church on Thursday morning for the Leona Mitchell water main and improvements groundbreaking ceremony.

For the Southern Heights Advocates — dressed in red shirts with “Southern Heights” printed in gold — the ceremony meant a lot.

“I just want you guys to understand the impact that this has on our community,” said Valerie Toombs. “Because a lot of the houses are lacking in upkeep and structure. We need, at least, a foundation of hope, and this waterline is it, and I’m so grateful to the city of Enid for listening to our cries.”

Residents of Southern Heights raised concerns last year about the conditions of their water supply, which included discolored water and low water flow, to city staff and elected officials, said City Manager Jerald Gilbert. 

A few months ago, the city received a $4 million forgivable loan from Oklahoma Water Resources Board and later approved allocating $1.73 million of those funds to cover the cost of the Leona Mitchell project.

The project is estimated to last for more than one year and will replace the main distribution waterline, feeder lines to houses and at least 200 water meters.

Gilbert said the end result of the project will “certainly impact people’s lives,” Gilbert said.

“There’ll be more-than-adequate water to support the homes that are (in the Southern Heights neighborhood) and support development, including commercial and economic,” he said.

The remaining funds from the OWRB loan — scheduled to be paid off in four years — will go toward repairing and replacing three other water lines on Enid’s east side, Gilbert said.

Throughout the replacement of the Leona Mitchell waterline, Gilbert said there may be interruptions in service in Southern Heights, but that the city will do its best to notify residents and is considering placing a digital sign near Leona Mitchell and Garriott in an effort to keep people informed.

Article by: Kelci McKendrick, Enid News & Eagle 7.29.22