Water shut off as crews make repairs to broken water main in southwest Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The water is now off on Pembridge in southwest Houston as crews work to repair a broken water main that had sent water down that street for four days.

Alvin Wright, spokesman for the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department, says repairs should be complete by early evening. Wright says the cause of the eight-inch main break is weather-related.

The repairs come after four days of gushing water on the street in the 1100 block of Pembridge Drive at Albin.

Residents shared their concern with Eyewitness News as curbs crumbled, water carved through the pavement, and the center of the street separated amidst the gushing water.

"They may not be worried about the wasted water but I am. I'm worried about how much water is being wasted, and how long it'll be shut off whenever they get out here. It's a slow response," said resident Debora Johnson.

Another resident, Michael Kronman, also thinks the city should have responded sooner. He says he spoke with a man from the city's Department of Public Works yesterday, who told him water service interruptions would likely span the entire south side of the block.

"Yeah, to the end of the block is what I was told. It's a lot of water to waste and we need it in the summer," Kronman said.

The city insisted repair crews were coming, but neighbors said they heard that from DPW for days, and no crews came.

Today, Eyewitness News took residents' concerns directly to DPW. We spoke with DPW spokesman, Alvin Wright, by phone.

    FENOGLIO, ABC13: How does your office prioritize these water main breaks? Are their different levels? With so many reports every day, what's the highest level? What's the lowest? How does this water main break compare?

    WRIGHT, DPW: Water main breaks are classified as minor or major and are scheduled as they come in. Some minor breaks turn into majors and they are pushed ahead for repair. During extreme temperatures, (hot and cold weather), breaks increase due to the gumbo soil we live in. Average back orders for repair can range from 100 to 250 a day. Public Works maintains over 7,500 miles of water lines that run throughout the city.

    FENOGLIO, ABC13: You mentioned crews would be out here today to begin the repair process. When are they going to arrive/what time?

    WRIGHT, DPW: Crews should be on scene soon. They start early in the morning and this repair may be their second one of the day.

    FENOGLIO, ABC13: How many homes will be without water and for how long?

    WRIGHT, DPW: Our valve crews will minimize the number of homes affected, and we try to notify residents that when the work will start.

    FENOGLIO, ABC13: How long will the repairs take to complete? And, again, will residents have their water shut off?

    WRIGHT, DPW: Usually the project will last about four hours.

DPW says that part of the problem is that water main breaks spike in the summer. As temperatures rise, so do the calls for service.

With 7,000 miles of pipes in the city, officials say there is a waiting list of between 200 and 220 minor water main breaks at any given time while public works teams dive into the real gushers.

DPW insists that, although this leak looks dramatic, on the surface it's a relatively routine break. DPW says that, "Water coming up in the expansion joints makes it look extreme." null
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