Water replenishment taking longer than planned

Odessans will likely have to wait until Saturday now to brush their teeth using city water, Utilities Director Tom Kerr announced Thursday morning.

Originally, Kerr thought the city would be able to lift the county-wide boil alert imposed early Tuesday morning on Friday, but it’s taking longer to replenish the city’s water system than anticipated.

The city has to refill the city’s entire water system, which includes three large water towers, with 15-20 million gallons of water.

On Thursday morning, Kerr said two of the three tanks in the city’s lower plains have been filled, but the third tank in the upper plains near Yukon Road, which normally holds half a million gallons of water, won’t reach full until sometime later today.

Roughly 30,000 people are served by that tank and the demand is higher than anticipated, Kerr said, adding that this is the first time the City of Odessa has had to go through this process.

He again reminded Odessans they should still be trying to conserve water, which will reduce the risks of another line break and help the city fill the remaining tank quicker.

Once all three tanks are filled, the city will then have to make sure there is a sufficient amount of chlorine added to the water before taking 8-10 water samples from all over Odessa to test for dangerous bacteria and microbes, Kerr said.

Chlorine is routinely added to water to kill those things, Kerr said.

Once the samples are collected, it takes 24 hours for test results and if the results are negative, the boil alert will be lifted, he said.

The City of Odessa learned around dinner time Monday that a major, 24-inch water line had sprung a leak at 42nd and San Jacinto streets.

On Monday, crews were unable to isolate the original leak because of a faulty valve that they tried to access from above ground, Kerr said. Because they were unsuccessful, the city was forced to shutdown the city’s water plant, which prompted the boil alert to be issued.

The crews finished repairing the line around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, but discovered a “manageable leak” around a repair fitting later in the day.

Because of the new leak, Kerr said crews began digging up the intersection of 42nd Street and Andrews Highway Wednesday night to reach and repair the valve.

Crews reached the valve around 7 a.m. Thursday morning and are now attempting to repair it. If they are unable to, Kerr said they have contingency plans in mind that don’t involve shutting the entire water system down again.

“We really appreciate the cooperation we have been given. It’s been tremendous,” Kerr said. “The vast majority of the community has been very, very helpful. We all are in pain about this situation…we hope to get this fully addressed as quickly as possible.”

The city continues to operate a water distribution center in Building E on the grounds of the Ector County Coliseum.