HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's Public Works Department told ABC13 there are more than 500 active water leaks in the city's infrastructure as of earlier this week.
Michael Johnson, an assistant director in the department, acknowledged that is not a number they want to see, and that they strive to have 50 or fewer such leaks on an ideal day.
"It's a lot," Johnson said about the current number of leaks. "We're working to decrease that number."
Johnson said the city's soil, recent drought, and Christmas freeze have caused the high number of leaks, and pointed out that there were about 1,000 leaks after the frozen temperatures came through at the end of December.
In 2022, the Houston Chronicle reported that the city lost 20 billion gallons of water due to leaks from January to August of that year. Using data from the U.S. Geological Survey, that equates to 500 million bathtubs worth of water being wasted due to leaks.
The Chronicle added that losing that much water over that time period potentially cost the city $75 million.
Houston City Council recognizes the problem, with Mayor Sylvester Turner himself acknowledging Houston has a lot of leaks, and has approved tens of millions of dollars in recent months to hire outside contractors to assist in fixing the leaks.
Johnson said if you're experiencing a leak to call 311 , and a crew will investigate where the water is coming from. If it's determined to be a city line, they said the average time to repair it right now is 10 to 15 days. That's longer than usual due to the sheer number of leaks, in addition to supply chain issues and staffing shortages.
The city, which has 7,000 miles of water infrastructure, said repairs are prioritized by the amount of water being lost, in addition to sensitive areas such as the Texas Medical Center.
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