Houston officials urge residents to conserve water use while main break is resolved

Houston water main flooding
Officials are responding to a water main leak that has flooded a section of Loop 610 in east Houston. (Courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office)

Officials are responding to a water main leak that has flooded a section of Loop 610 in east Houston. (Courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office)

Which area businesses are affected by the water main break? | Learn about Houston's boil water notice here.

UPDATED Feb. 27, 4:00 p.m.

Over the next 6 to 8 hours the 96-inch water mainline break at Loop 610 and Clinton Drive will continue to leak water. The line is shut down however due to the large capacity of the pipe, the remaining water that was in it at the time of the break needs to continue to drain, said Jeff Weatherford, Houston's director of transportation and drainage operations. It is now doing so at a slower rate, he said.

As the water comes out, the Texas Department of Transportation and other agencies are working to pump it out of the surrounding area and deploying sand bags to keep it from spreading, Weatherford said.

Much of the East Loop will remain closed as the water continues to drain through the evening and area toll agencies are waiving fees, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

According to TxDOT, Loop traffic is detoured on the East Loop from I-610 south to I-10, and all ramps from I-610 to I-10 south are closed. I-610 northbound traffic is detoured to Hwy. 225 and ramps from Hwy. 225 to I-610 north are closed. All ramps between Hwy. 225 and I-10 are closed as well. Harris County Toll Road Authority said it was waiving tolls on Beltway 8 to help deal with congestion.

When the section of the line, which was the main trunkline coming out of the east water plant, is emptied repairs can be made, Turner said. The line was 35 years old and already had an known minor leak that Houston Public Works was working to resolve, Weatherford said. As workers got closer to the source of the leak Feb. 27, the line burst, causing the rapid flooding that stranded 12 to 15 cars and required three water rescues, according to Houston Public Works and the Houston Fire Department.

Turner said area agencies are doing everything they can to ensure the water does not enter homes surrounding the mainline break but cannot guarantee that it will not. Residents in the Pleasantville area have been told to vacate their homes and Houston Police officers are patrolling the area while they are gone for the evening, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Precinct 2 Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said the county is considering establishing an emergency shelter for senior citizens if deemed necessary.

"This is an example of a need to address our aging infrastructure," Turner said. "When you’re dealing with and aging infrastructure, and they are major arteries, they can cause major issues."

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said the Houston Fire Department is concerned about low water pressure in fire hydrants and sprinkler systems however it has been supplied with back up sources of water from 6 tankers of water from Harris County. Hidalgo said county facilities downtown, which is in the affected area, are being consolidated into the main county courthouse to relieve stress on the city's water supply. She said the county hospital system is also affected by the low water pressure and is using backup supplies of water that are allowing them to maintain normal operations.

Juveniles held in the detention center downtown were relocated to an additional facility on Chimney Rock Road in the Gulfton area, Hidlago said. The county is also monitoring its jail population to ensure it has access to safe drinking water, she said.

UPDATED Feb. 27, 2:13 p.m.: Restaurants without water and flushing toilets are required to close as of a statement issued by Houston Public Health Feb. 27. City health workers are being dispatched to affected areas, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote via Twitter.

Original post, 11 a.m.: A portion of the Loop 610 at Clinton Drive in east Houston flooded rapidly after a 96-inch main line broke Feb. 27, Houston Public works confirmed.

Houston residents may experience decreased water pressure and officials are urging residents to conserve use while the issue is resolved.

Public Works has not yet confirmed if the issue affects the quality and safety of any of the city's water supply.

Crews from public works are on the scene to address the water main break and Houston FireDepartment performed high water rescues of drivers stranded on top of their vehicles where the roadway flooded near Clinton Drive.

Public officials are monitoring the situation and recording widespread water pressure issues.

According to the city, a contractor was doing work for a water line project nearby. When soil was moved from the line, the city said, the 96-inch water line burst.

Major disruption to ship channel main lanes. Traffic shutdown both sides. Multiple agencies assisting with mobility. Several cars flooded, all occupants are out. Avoid the area. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/3N1tovNlDY

— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) February 27, 2020

URGENT ALERT: our office is aware of a widespread water pressure issue throughout #DistC. Constituents unable to report via 311 due to high call volume. We’re working with @HouPublicWorks, who is already aware of this issue. We will update as soon as we have additional info.

— Abbie Kamin (@AbbieKamin) February 27, 2020

By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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