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Crews worked to restore water service Wednesday to the West Texas city of Odessa, where residents have been without water this week amid scorching temperatures after an aging pipe broke.
The city’s water treatment plant was back online by about 8 a.m. Wednesday, and utility officials said it could take 12 to 14 hours for the “recharging” process, during which workers slowly add water back into the system to ensure there are no more leaks.
The city water system’s 165,000 customers’ taps lost pressure or went completely dry after the 24-inch (61-centimeter) main broke Monday afternoon, according to the city’s social media pages.
Temperatures Wednesday were predicted to approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) as Texas — like much of the United States — faced extremely hot and humid conditions. And while Odessa typically sees hot weather in June, the timing of the break made dealing with this week’s heat more difficult.
City officials said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that drinkable water could be restored later Wednesday but that the water system needed to be turned back out carefully to avoid any additional breaks.
The city, which is located about 330 miles (530 kilometers) west of Dallas, planned to distribute water to residents at Ector County Coliseum as well as deliver water to nursing homes.
Water tankers were placed strategically around the city to respond to any fires, said Deputy City Manager Phillip Urrutia.
“It’s an aging infrastructure that we’re seeing. It’s a cast iron pipe, and so those are typically more susceptible to breaks than other new technologies like PVC pipe that’s going in the ground,” he said.