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Widespread water outages plague Odessa as crews rush to fix major water line break

Photo provided by the City of Odessa
Repair crews work to fix a broken water line that’s caused widespread water outages across the Odessa area.

As temperatures soared to near 100 degrees, Odessans continued to face widespread water outages due to a broken water line. Repairs were taking city crews longer than expected on Tuesday, and the city began to distribute bottled water to those in need.

Monday evening, the City of Odessa found a major water line at 42nd St. and San Jacinto had broken, causing major leaks and a drop in water pressure. Hours later, a boil water notice was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Crews worked to turn off valves to minimize the flow of water at the leak, according to the city. But that failed and the city was forced to take the local water treatment plant offline, leaving residents without drinkable water.

According to a city spokesperson, crews were able to drain the hole around the water line Tuesday morning and were able to begin excavating the line to start repairs. Despite the progress, the Odessa American is reporting water could still be off in the city for up to 48 hours.

Mitch Borden
Marfa Public Radio
Cars pass the stream of water coming from the broken water line at 42 St. and San Jacinto St.

Ector County Judge Debi Hayes issued a disaster declaration in response to the situation and local leaders have set up a command center just up the street from the broken water line. Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said Tuesday afternoon that state agencies are helping respond to the outtage.

“I urge residents in Odessa to follow guidance from local officials and take the proper precautions to ensure their health and safety as we work together to restore safe tap water in the community,” Gov. Abbott said in a press release.

With the city facing widespread water outages, Medical Center Hospital was forced to close its clinics across the city and canceled surgeries on Tuesday and Wednesday, but will still continue operating its emergency room.

However, hospital officials are “asking that people limit their visitation during this time to avoid using limited supplies,” according to a press release from Medical Center.

Deputy city manager Phillip Urrutia told the local paper, that the West Texas Food Bank and other organizations are working to coordinate shipments of water to arrive, the first of which is expected Tuesday evening.

Republican State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, whose district includes Odessa, has said he’s also working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to get more water to the city. Emergency supplies of water will be given to local medical facilities and care homes. Water to be given to the general population is also being shipped.

In a Facebook post, Landgraf wrote, “Seven 18-wheelers hauling bottled water en route to Odessa.” They were expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon.

Three water distribution sites were set up across Odessa, but according to a city spokesperson, each car will be allotted only one case of water.

Locals can pick up water at three locations: McKinney Park, located at 625 W. Pool Rd., at the Ector County Coliseum, 4201 Andrews Hwy., and FM 1936 and W University.

This story was produced by Marfa Public Radio.

Mitch Borden
Marfa Public Radio