Nearly 20K calls for Houston water leaks logged as city increases repair funding in 2023 to $81M

Chaz Miller Image
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
$48M OK'd to repair Houston water leaks, bringing 2023 total to $81M
The $48 million approved by the Houston City Council will go towards seeking outside contractors to repair the city's hundreds of water leaks.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston City Council approved on Wednesday the use of about $48 million that can be used towards hiring outside contractors for leak repairs in the city's water infrastructure.

Councilmembers already approved spending about $33 million on the same thing earlier this year, which brings the overall total in 2023 to more than $80 million.

A new document provided by Houston Public Works painted a picture of how bad the issue of leaky pipes has been this summer.

It said the city received 19,170 calls for water leaks from June 1 through Sept. 30.

Some of those are for duplicate calls or leaks the city isn't responsible for, but Houston Public Works said the city repaired about 4,200 leaks since June, with a combination of city workers and outside contractors.

FROM APRIL 2023: 13 Investigates finds Houston fixed 32% of active water leaks since February, but goal still far off

It was city workers who repaired the majority of those, but that came with an overtime cost of about $1.1 million from June 9 through Sept. 15.

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin said the city has also experienced a surge in the number of leaks over the course of this summer.

"The number of active leaks prior to June 1 was less than 100, and active leaks since June 1 are more than 500," he said on Wednesday.

Martin added that the city also had to increase its use of contractors from four to 10 over the summer, with the prospect of hiring two more.

"We're trying to move in an expedited fashion, but it seemed to get ahead of where we could do it internally," Martin said while discussing the summer drought and temperatures.

Additionally, Houston Public Works said it currently takes an average of two to five weeks to repair a minor leak.

The department told ABC13 previously its goal for fixing a leak when conditions are ideal is eight days or less.

For news updates, follow Chaz Miller on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

FROM AUGUST 2023: City of Houston experiences increase in active water leaks, officials say

Houstonians are being asked to voluntarily conserve outdoor water usage, but some are baffled to why there are so many ongoing leaks.