Water main break on Bissonnet impacting drivers and nearby day care: 'It got pretty nasty'

Thursday, June 13, 2024
Water main break on Bissonnet and Morningside impacting drivers
A water main break at the intersection of Bissonnet and Morningside impacted drivers and a day care drop-off Wednesday morning.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Water gushing out of an impacted fire hydrant at the intersection of Bissonnet and Morningside on Wednesday morning slowed down drivers and affected a nearby daycare drop-off.

ABC13's Lileana Pearson was there as parents traversed the muck at Bissonnet, which looked more like a river.

All the water was coming from a fire hydrant that sunk into the ground, forcing water down the road.

"I've never really seen it like this before," Rusty Humble, who was dropping off his daughter at daycare, told ABC13.

Impacts on public water infrastructure and repairs have been the center of controversy, especially after it was discovered that a Houston Public Works employee was receiving kickbacks from contractors.

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

City leaders have said they fear repairs could have been done poorly.

"It got pretty nasty over here with all the water," Humble said.

According to Humble, water line breaks are not strange in Houston. Last week, Public Works reported just over 1,000 work requests for impacted water lines. He said he's worried about the timeline for fixing the break at Bissonnet and Morningside.

That's down from 1,553 in February. ABC13 obtained 311 data showing that the number of water leak service requests continues to rise.

Over the last year, 311 received 44,353 water leak service requests, up from 35,756 the year before.

In the past month, 6,670 water leak reports have been made, compared to 5,088 at the same time last year.

"I'm worried it's still gonna be this way when I come home tonight, but at least at this rate, I know it's here, and I know to park and walk," Humble said.

Wednesday's break impacted daycare drop-off. A blocked-off road forced Humble to park in a nearby neighborhood and track through the muck with his daughter in his arms.

"She was like, 'Oh look, there's water. I want to go splash in the puddles,' and I said, 'Let's not do that in the street.' She's 3, so she'll be alright," Humble said about his toddler.

A nearby restaurant owner said a police officer asked her to check her cameras to see if a car may have hit the hydrant, but at first glance, there was no video captured.

The break has been active since at least 3:30 a.m. ABC13 has reached out to Public Works for a timeline on when the repair should be fixed, and they sent the following response:

"Houston Public Works (HPW) is committed to repairing every water leak. A Houston Water inspector verified a major water leak due to a knocked-down fire hydrant at Bissonnet and Morningside at 8 a.m. this morning. Repairs are expected to take several hours.

Houston Public Works measures open work orders for repairs. Work orders can consist of more than just water leaks-they also include repairs on a water line, a damaged asset, fire hydrants, and valves that aren't working. There are currently nearly 1,000 open work orders, a downward trend from a high of 1,553 on Feb. 25, 2024.

Our team is working hard to stabilize HPW's leak repair program and improve repair response times, the water shutoff notification process, and site restoration of impacted areas.

Please encourage the community to report water leaks to 311 so we can track and make repairs as fast as possible and to contact 311 if anyone notices that the reported leak has worsened."

As the summer heat picks up, Houston Public Works is racing to repair water leaks, but for a couple in the Heights, the work hasn't been fast enough.

For a couple in the Heights, renting a condo with a driveway is no longer a perk.

"We have cars. We can't put both of them in," Jessie Ghiyassi said. "We also have to maneuver one of the cars so oddly because there's this rock, and we're not supposed to drive over it."

They are not supposed to drive over the rock because of what's underneath it, a water leak Ghiyassi reported to 311 six months ago.

She said Public Works came in February, ripped up the driveway, and worked on the leak. However, Ghiyassi said repairs slowed the trickle but not the water.

Two months later, more crews came, but the leak remained. The issue affects more than just their driveway.

"Our water bill is currently around $1,500," Ghiyassi explained. "I have to call them monthly in order to not be penalized for not paying a $1,500 water bill because we're not using that much water."

ABC13 contacted Public Works about Ghiyassi's situation and was told that crews are working to identify the leak and will have it repaired by the end of the week.

Public Works says the weather is working in its favor. So far, IAH has received more rain than last year.

More than 34 inches have fallen during the first six months, compared to 26 inches last year. Typically, IAH sees around 21 inches during the first six months.

Public works said the wet weather helps keep the ground from shifting and impacting infrastructure. Last year was also above normal before a drought hit in July.

Public works said that's why it's racing to repair as many leaks now.

A new city dashboard is being developed to track water leaks. It will show the number of daily leaks and how many have been reported and fixed each week.

The dashboard was shown to city council members during a service delivery committee meeting in April during a Public Works presentation.

During the meeting, leaders were told the dashboard would be available soon. However, it's not live yet.

ABC13 asked Public Works when the dashboard would be live but didn't receive an answer.

If you notice a leak, public works said to contact 311 and to contact them again if the leak gets worse.