ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) — Odessa Mayor Javier Joven said he is working with other city and county leaders and may soon issue a “State of Emergency” amid an ongoing water outage that is impacting the entire city.
Monday evening, a “major” water break occurred at the intersection of 42nd & San Jacinto. Crews worked overnight to close valves and isolate and repair the break but later said the age of the facility compounded the problem and repairs would take longer than anticipated. As of 11:30 Tuesday morning, the City said crews had drained the line and excavated it for repair.
However, despite the progress crews made overnight, water continued to pour into the streets, and low water levels at the facility prompted the City to issue a boil water notice for the entire city. The City said everyone should boil water for at least two minutes prior to using it for cooking, drinking, oral care, making ice, washing dishes, etc.
However, the boil water notice was not much of an issue for those who woke up to no water. Early Tuesday morning, Odessans took to social media asking about the issue. Some said they had little water pressure, others said they had no water at all.
“I have brown water coming out of the faucets. Does anyone know what’s going on?” one Facebook user asked.
Another replied, “We don’t have water at all.”
Assistant City Manager Phillip Urrutia said, “There may be instances where you do have water… if you do have water coming out you do need to boil your water at this point.”
As news of the water “crisis” spread, area hospitals, as well as schools and businesses were forced to close.
Medical Center Hospital said it would cancel all surgeries and procedures planned for June 14. All dialysis procedures were limited to emergencies and the hospital also said its clinics would remain closed through the day. The Emergency Department, however, would remain open. MCH said it would distribute bottled water to patients on all floors and would have port-a-potties on campus.
City leaders stepped in to help the hospital as it continued to care for its patients.
“We’re already trying to meet the hospital needs and we’ve sent some tankers to their locations to make sure that they’ve got what it is that they need, but right now our main job is to really prioritize where are the critical infrastructures and then what do we have to do to help them,” said Fire Chief John Alvarez.
Ector County ISD said it had to cancel summer school classes scheduled for Tuesday. Odessa College as well as other County and City offices followed suit and remained closed as well.
Area businesses have also been impacted by the water issues. Many restaurants closed their doors and said they will be closed “until further notice”. That uncertainty stems from reports that it may take 48 hours for the water line to be repaired, and longer still until the boil water notice is lifted.
People across the city and from surrounding counties have now stepped in to help. Midland County Emergency Management helped with emergency preparations through the night by sending a water tanker to Odessa Fire Rescue to pre-stage for potential fires. Midland County said that tanker holds about 6,000 gallons of water.
One local businessman, Chef Alejandro of Curbside Bistro, said he and his team were stepping in to make sure children and first responders, as well as crews working to make repairs, were fed. Those in need are invited to grab a hotdog at the Ector County Coliseum for lunch.
City Councilman Mark Matta said the City of Midland has donated 28 pallets of bottled water which will help ensure the community has plenty of clean water to drink. Matta said as soon as the water arrives from Midland, it will be available at the Coliseum, McKinney Park, and at the corner of W University and FM 1936. Supplies are limited and each car will be given one case of water. However, Matta also said a truck full of water is on its way from San Antonio.
Water, it seems, is in short supply around town and has been flying off the shelves of area grocery stores since early morning and some stores have since limited shoppers to two cases of water.
This is a developing situation; we will continue to update as more information becomes available.