Electrical issue causes water well outage

August 24, 2011 3:30:08 PM PDT
When some Baytown-area residents were told their well was out of water, they thought it was because of the drought and they worried about what would happen if we didn't get rain soon. It turns out that was not the issue.

"Aqua," the company that operates the well, says the water went out because of an electrical problem at the well. The company says it is performing upgrades and drilling a new well. Aqua customers in that area are now under a precautionary boil water advisory, and they say the inconvenience could not have come at a worse time.

Bill Stevens is back to work cleaning up his kitchen after a messy morning.

"Couldn't do nothing. Turned on the faucet and all we heard was air," Stevens said.

His family was without water for about eight hours. The Lanai subdivision in unincorporated Baytown, where they live, gets water from a well that supplies 850 homes. On Wednesday, there was panic when the water went out, and residents tell us the operators at the water company said the well had gone dry.

"They just didn't care. They were like, sorry, we don't know what to tell you, it's out. The well is dry," resident Candice Baker said.

"There's really not a lot they could do; we just had to wait for it to replenish," resident Katie Mason said.

Residents were already operating with less water after the company recently issued Stage 1 water restrictions due to the drought. Anyone who exceeds a certain amount of water usage can be fined and have a water restrictor put on their supply line.

"I have two kids. Thank god I have bottled water; that's what we had to brush our teeth with, and whenever we had to use the bathroom, that's what we had to use, just all of our bottled water that we had," Baker said. "It's just scary. I mean, we have to do laundry and everything else."

The water is back on, but then a boil water notice went out. It's yet another inconvenience at a tough time, so they're not taking any chances.

"I was actually going to go to the store after work and get some water, so that at least we have something to cook with and water to give our dogs so they have something to drink," Mason said.

The state is investigating four complaints about this water interruption and says an outage also happened in June, which is also under investigation. However, the company hasn't been fined so far. Aqua says there should be no more interruptions, and that when it acquired this well in December, they learned it needed upgrades.

The boil water notice is voluntary and may be in place as a precaution until Thursday.

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