Texas city could be without water for 48 hours, officials say

A major water main broke in the city of Odessa, Texas, leaving thousands without water.

A major water main broke in the city of Odessa, Texas, leaving thousands without water.

Odessa Police Department.

UPDATE: The line has been repaired and the water treatment plant is back online, but Odessa residents should not expect water to start flowing to their homes immediately, officials told news outlets.

The Ector County Utility District is in the process of recharging the system, gradually adding water back into the lines running throughout the community, KOSA reported. The recharge could take 12 hours or more and a boil water alert will remain in effect.

While residents are eager to have water flowing into their homes again, the City of Odessa emphasized patience and caution during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Once the break is fixed, “we will begin to turn the system back on cautiously to maintain the integrity of all lines,” the city said, adding that it could take another 24 hours “to ensure that the water is safe and there is no bacteria present before rescinding the boil water notice.”

Original story continues below:

Anger and worry are growing in West Texas after thousands of residents woke up to no water.

The city of Odessa is scrambling to get water flowing again — and calm concerned residents — after a major line broke, but it could be as long as 48 hours before the problem is fixed, outlets report.

A water main running under the city of roughly 110,000 broke late on Monday, June 13, Odessa officials said in a statement.

Water came rushing out, flooding streets, and the city has shut down the flow of water while crews work to repair the damaged line.

“However, this is taking time,” the city said.

Odessa is known for its high school football and oil, and served as the real life inspiration for ‘Friday Night Lights.’ It is about 320 miles west of Fort Worth.

The water shortage comes as the city has endured four straight days of triple-digit heat, and temperatures are expected to hit 99 on Tuesday, June 14, and 98 on June 15, according to the National Weather Service. There’s also a 10 percent chance of rain Tuesday night.

It’s not clear how much of the city is without water, but residents are reporting outages all across Odessa on social media.

“We have no water on 92nd! Did you see that HUGE RIVER OF WATER yesterday? Guess that was ours,” one resident said.

“Only time I’ve ever been thankful that we at least [can] buy water to drink. Seriously, Odessa – is there ANYTHING that our city can get right? This is insane,” said another.

Water is apparently still flowing to some residences, but the city is warning the public to boil it, to rid it of possible contaminants.

“Can’t boil water if I don’t have none,” a resident replied.

Restaurants, businesses, schools and other fixtures of the community have also been impacted. The University of Texas Permian Basin announced its campus will be closed until the water is back on. Chik-Fil-A won’t be serving anyone. Summer school is temporarily canceled.

The sheriff’s office is closed, and area hospitals can’t function as intended, the Odessa American reported.

“They have been told it could be up to 48 hours before water is fully restored, which includes water line repair and flushing of the system,” officials told the newspaper. “Surgeries are all canceled and patients are being diverted to area hospitals.”

A photo shared by the newspaper shows shoppers filling entire shopping carts with bottled water, leaving bare shelves behind.

The city is working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to establish water distribution centers, Ector County Judge-elect Dustin Fawcett said in a video shared to Facebook.

Fawcett said the water could be restored in a matter of hours, contrary to comments from other officials.

McClatchy News has reached out to city officials for more information.

This story was originally published June 14, 2022 10:49 AM.

Mitchell Willetts is a real-time news reporter covering the central US for McClatchy. He is a University of Oklahoma graduate and outdoors enthusiast living in Texas.

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