NATIONAL NEWS

Odessa, Texas, without drinking water as temperatures soar

Jun 15, 2022, 1:05 PM
(City of Odessa, Texas/Facebook)...
(City of Odessa, Texas/Facebook)
(City of Odessa, Texas/Facebook)

ODESSA, Texas (AP) — Crews worked to restore water service Wednesday to the West Texas city of Odessa, where residents have been without water this week amid scorching temperatures after an aging pipe broke.

The city’s water treatment plant was back online by about 8 a.m. Wednesday, and utility officials said it could take 12 to 14 hours for the “recharging” process, during which workers slowly add water back into the system to ensure there are no more leaks.

The city water system’s 165,000 customers’ taps lost pressure or went completely dry after the 24-inch (61-centimeter) main broke Monday afternoon, according to the city’s social media pages.

Temperatures were forecast to approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) later Wednesday as Texas — like much of the United States — faced extremely hot and humid conditions. And while Odessa typically sees hot weather in June, the timing of the break made dealing with this week’s heat more difficult.

Resident Nikki Friday told The Associated Press that the city is providing bottled water and that people with wells are offering neighbors water from hoses. She also said tanker trucks have been parked around town to fill buckets with water.

“Drinking water has not been an issue,” Friday said. “We just need water to return to our daily lives and within the community.”

Lifelong Odessa resident Lynda Wright said water service has not been lost across the city in the more than five decades that she has lived there. She said she picked up water and ice from Midland, a 15-minute drive from her home.

Wright said her family had drinkable water stored in jugs that they used to wash their hands and brush their teeth, and that her family hooked her house up to a well on her property to provide water to flush toilets.

“We just dropped a hose in the (water) line,” she said.

Wright said she noticed water began running again around noon, but that the pressure had not yet returned to regular strength.

The city, which is located about 330 miles (530 kilometers) west of Dallas, planned to distribute water to residents at Ector County Coliseum as well as deliver water to nursing homes. Water tankers were placed strategically around the city to respond to any fires, said Deputy City Manager Phillip Urrutia.

“It’s an aging infrastructure that we’re seeing. It’s a cast iron pipe, and so those are typically more susceptible to breaks than other new technologies like PVC pipe that’s going in the ground,” he said.

Wright said she hopes the city acts to prevent another water emergency

“I just hope that they kind of learned we need to get in there, we need to check these lines and repair those that show signs of age and wear and tear,” she said.

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Odessa, Texas, without drinking water as temperatures soar