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Some residents without water because of drought

Brian Cuaron

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 10, 2011 at 3:10 a.m.
Updated Aug. 11, 2011 at 3:11 a.m.

A Public Works Utility worker breaks up a sidewalk and removes debris to repair a broken water line in front of a home on Westwood Drive on Wednesday. The dry weather causes the ground to shift, resulting in broken pipes that are costly for the city to repair.

Some Victoria residents have been without water at times because dry conditions have cracked the ground.

Over about the last four weeks, water has broken through the city's streets about four times a day, said Lynn Short, director of public works. The water came from broken underground water pipes, and the spills usually totaled several-hundred gallons per minute.

This has caused residents to be without water for three to eight hours during the time the city replaces the pipes, Short said.

He said Victoria used to receive reports of one water pipe breaking per day. The dry weather conditions have caused the ground to move, resulting in broken water lines.

"That's a normal part of a drought," Short explained.

The problem wasn't peculiar to Victoria. Short said other Texas utility directors have told him they're experiencing the same thing.

The ground moving wasn't expected to affect newer water pipes installed under streets recently paved, Short said. While it could happen, he said the problem was usually associated with older, more rigid and brittle pipes.

The phenomenon hasn't come cheap. A three-man crew typically replaces the pipes, which included breaking the ground and repaving it.

"Obviously it is, you know, pretty expensive," said Short, citing labor and material costs.

He couldn't provide the cost for replacing the broken pipes over the last four weeks. Workers have replaced broken pipes even during weekends.

"So the crews are working a lot of long and hot hours," Short said.



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