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City Crews Can’t Keep Up With Busting Water Pipes

With drought conditions still upon us, the city of Houston remains under a mandatory water conservation program. But in some areas, water is being wasted and is literally running down the drain. City workers are rushing to fix the flood of water main breaks.



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(Sound of water running from a broken pipe)

Peggy Clines lives on Dillon Street in Southeast Houston. Thanks to a broken underground pipe, water has been flowing for two weeks now down a small drainage ditch that runs front of her house. Peggy knew the water was just going to waste.

“I just saw that water and I thought, ‘there’s gotta be some way I can get it into the yard.'”

Cline headed over to the local hardware store to see what she could find.

“I went down and I bought me a sump pump. I’ve got 100 foot of house and I can water just about anything in my yard that I want to. I can let it run 24 hours a day. It doesn’t cost me a dime.

Bill:”So where is that going to right now?”

“It’s going right down here to this drain and then I’ve got it going all over the yard.”

The Houston Public Works department says there are an astounding 900 or more other leaks like this one in the city. Staff member Roberto Medina says there’s nothing they can do to prevent them.

“There’s a lot of heat. There’s lack of rain and a combination of those two causes the ground to shift and move and of course it causes our infrastructure to move also. That’s why we are in the situation that we are in.”

During a normal summer, he says there would be about 200 water main breaks. There are so many right now, crews can’t keep up.

“We have 50 to 60 crews and we’ve also obtained some contractors. We’ve obtained some additional contractors to bring that number down.”

During one of the worst droughts — perhaps in Houston history — Patty Cline has one of the greenest yards and landscaping you’ll find.

“Somebody might as well, it’s just going down the drain anyway.”

One crew can usually patch up a leak in one day. The problem is there are hundreds more to fix.