West Texas city water faucets run dry after main break

A West Texas town’s water system lost pressure after a major water main burst, leaving tens of thousands of customers with dry faucets on Tuesday.

The water taps of the 165,000 customers of Odessa’s water system lost pressure or went completely dry after the 24-inch main pipe burst late Monday afternoon, according to the social media pages of the city. Odessa Mayor Javier Joven declared a state of emergency and issued a boil water advisory for the 165,000 system customers who still had water, in effect until further notice order.

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

Shops, schools and public bodies remained closed on Tuesday due to a lack of water.

City officials said Tuesday afternoon that repairs aren’t expected to be complete until Tuesday evening, but the water isn’t expected to flow again until almost noon Wednesday.

“As we’ve never done this before, (reboot) an entire system like this, we’re making these predictions based on a good guess,” said city utilities manager Thomas Kerr.

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

“We are seeing an aging infrastructure. It’s a cast iron pipe, and so those are generally more susceptible to breakage than other new technologies like PVC pipes that go into the ground,” he said.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management said it was dispatching trucks full of drinking water while city crews rushed repairs to the water main. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has staff 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) on Tuesday afternoon.

Lynn A. Saleh