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Big Spring rushes to fix water issues

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 9:16 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Most of the houses located inside the old Webb Air Force base in Big Spring look very similar. They’re also experiencing similar problems.

“We’ve been without water for three to three-and-a-half days now,” resident Johnnie Rawls said.

Rawls is trying to make the best of a bad situation. We met him as he was picking nine gallons of water from his son. That’s about half of what the average American uses to shower for eight minutes. Rawls hopes it will last him and his wife three days.

“We can’t wash dishes, we can’t wash clothes,” Rawls said. “We’ve got water to drink, and then we have to pour water in the tank to flush the toilets. And, like I said, if we have to take a shower or whatnot, we go to somebody else’s house.”

The crux of the problem is this: lines at the water treatment facility of big spring froze during the winter storm, forcing the city to shut the water down to make repairs. When those repairs were completed, they had to refill the depleted tanks at a rate of about six million gallons per day.

“Those hold a grand total of about 26 million gallons of water,” Mayor Shannon Thomason said. “So, even operating at 6 million gallons per day, it will take us four days to refill everything—or four-plus days.”

And that’s without people using any water. But filling the tanks is only part of the problem.

“Also, now as we’re thawing out, we’re finding a lot of leaks that are drawing out of the system as well,” Thomason said.

Thomason said the city is working around the clock to fix leaks to speed up getting water to people like Rawls, who is taking a glass-half-full approach to the situation.

“Luckily, we’ve got family around,” Rawls said. “We have help. So, we’re just getting through like anyone else can, you know?”

The city issued a water conservation notice on Friday afternoon, and Thomason says he hopes to have water back to the entire city within three days.

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