Odessa water taps go dry after main break

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022
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ODESSA, Texas -- A West Texas city's water system lost pressure after a break in a major water main, leaving tens of thousands of customers with dry taps Tuesday.

Odessa's water system's 165,000 customers' water taps lost pressure or went completely dry after the 24-inch main broke late Monday afternoon, according to the city's social media pages. Odessa Mayor Javier Joven declared a state of emergency and issued a boil-water notice for the system's 165,000 customers that still had water, effective until further notice.

"A significant portion of the community remains without water at this time," the city's Facebook page said early Tuesday afternoon.

Businesses, schools and public agencies remained closed Tuesday because of a lack of water.

City officials said Tuesday afternoon that repairs were not expected to be completed until Tuesday night, but the water was not expected to be flowing again until almost midday Wednesday.

"As we have never done this before, (restarting) an entire system like this, we are making those predictions based on a good guess," said city Utilities Director Thomas Kerr.

Water tankers were placed strategically around the city to respond to any fires, said Deputy City Manager Phillip Urrutia.

"It's an aging infrastructure that we're seeing. It's a cast iron pipe, and so those are typically more susceptible to breaks than other new technologies like PVC pipe that's going in the ground," he said.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management said it was shipping truckloads of drinking water while city crews expedite repairs to the main. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has staff standing by in Odessa to test water quality, according to the agency's statement.

The temperature at Odessa-Schlemeyer Field reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) Tuesday afternoon.