Houston Public Works admits bribery scandal casting doubt on water main repair numbers last year

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, June 7, 2024
Houston Public Works admits scandal casting doubt on repair numbers
The alleged $750,000 kickback scandal inside Houston Public Works is casting doubt on whether the city's water main leaks fell below 100 last year.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- According to Houston Public Works, the team felt victorious this time last year. They had water main breaks down to less than 100 across the city. However, according to ABC13's previous reporting, that number only grew.

From June 1 to Sept. 30, 2023, the city received 19,170 calls for water leaks. After determining which ones the department was responsible for, the city repaired over 4,200 in the same time frame.

However, after a bribery scheme involving water line repair contractors was exposed, the city worries leaks could be a problem again this year.

"Not knowing which repairs were good and which were bad, we will continue to pay for (them) as taxpayers," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a Friday news conference.

SEE ALSO: Several tied to Houston Public Works bribery scandal appear in court

In that same meeting, Houston Public Works told ABC13 that compared to the low number seen this time last year, the city currently sits at over 1,000 work orders. Houston Public Works added that a work order ranges from water main breaks to fire hydrant issues.

"You expect good service from government, and when government ends up paying much more for much less, the public loses," Ogg said.

Last year's drought created favorable conditions for a break, which Houston Public Works hopes won't happen again this year. However, the scheme's impact could be felt for years to come.

"How bad the public was ripped off, we'll never know," Ogg said.

Now that the city and county have a better handle on how far-reaching the potential scheme was, Houston Public Works admits that the low number of water main breaks last year, of less than 100, might have never been real.

"How accurate were those numbers when they were reported to us in the first place?" Randy Mucchi with Houston Public Works asked.

SEE ALSO: City says water repairs were never paused amid corruption scandal that could impact infrastructure

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