Drought conditions worsen water main breaks across Houston: 'Waste of money going down the drain'

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, September 1, 2023
Massive Westheimer water main break symptomatic of worsening drought
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Neighbors in west Houston are concerned over the big waste of water coming from a main break on Westheimer.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For months, rain has been scarce. Burn bans, wildfires, and water conservation efforts are all signs of the summer drought. Despite that, precious water is left going down drains due to water main breaks across the city as Texas ground thirsts for water.

"This is like gallons and gallon," Houstonian Jose Avila said about a massive break on Westheimer.

The main is so big that a large rock has been placed on it to try and redirect the pray off the sidewalk, an effort in vain.

"Why are they not doing anything about the water?" Kimberly Rodriguez, who uses a nearby bus stop, asked.

Houston Public Works said drought conditions are increasing the number of breaks. As the ground dries out, lines move and are damaged, and old pipes and infrastructure are adding to the problem.

SEE ALSO: Mandatory watering restrictions in effect for City of Houston amid drought

"Probably, about the only water Houston is going to get," Avila said.

Right now, the city reports there are more than 500 main breaks and has increased contractor and city crew numbers by 20% to keep up.

"Man, come on, they have water mains (break) all over the city of Houston," Avila said.

One of those 500 leaks, ABC13 found in west Houston.

"There was burbling coming out at that spot," homeowner Barbara Baliff said.

Baliff said the three-day-old leak has had crews come and go, but so far, it's been allowed to run into the street.

"You just don't want to waste it," Baliff said.

Public works said that, on average, it takes them 10 to 14 days to complete a repair. This is not good news for taxpayers who worry about what this will cost the city and, ultimately, them.

"It's a waste of money going down the drain. Money we don't have to spend like that," Rodriguez said.

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