SAN ANGELO, TX –- The massive water crisis in San Angelo continues to leave thousands of homes without access to any type of water with no clear timeline as to when the water will return to residents in the high plane area.
According to city officials, as of Saturday afternoon, all water main breaks have been repaired, but the water tanks are unable to sustain an adequate pressure level as they struggle to be re-filled. But even as crews have worked tirelessly to repair breaks and leaks this has not been enough to guarantee water access for District 1 and District 6, whose residents have been most impacted by this on-going issue.
Even as 25 million gallons a day are pumped into the San Angelo water system, the tanks struggle to fill to the necessary level to allow high plane residents access to any level of water. The panorama appeared to be promising on Thursday, but by Friday it was evident the gains made in the previous days were being lost.
According to Water Utilities Director Allison Strube, this level of water is commonly pumped in during the hottest summer days. San Angelo is currently bringing in water from the Concho River (which includes Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Nasworthy) and the Hickory Aquifer. The Hickory Aquifer was a $120 million investment that has been proven to be especially crucial during this crisis. The Ivie Reservoir, which is a major source of water for San Angelo, has been offline since October 15th for maintenance.
According to Strube, nearly 70 % of water usage in San Angelo comes from residential customers. The remaining percentage is divided into 15% for commercial usage, 11% for institutional usage, and 4% for industrial usage.
In order to hasten the access to water for the nearly 8,500 homes and 1,000 apartment units which are being impacted, the city is asking residents to do their part in conserving water.
During the press conference, Mayor Brenda Gunter asked citizens to take shorter showers, avoid long shampooing hair, turn off sprinkler systems, be on the lookout for undetected water leaks, and ensure water meters are shut off when a leak is present. Residents who are unable to turn the meters off themselves are asked to call 325-657-4295.
Mayor Gunter also addressed an issue that had become a bit of a hot topic on social media. As thousands remain without access to water, car washes in San Angelo were open for business. According to Gunter, the city has asked those businesses to refrain from offering those services and for customers to stop washing their vehicles.
In an effort to conserve water and allow the tanks to properly fill overnight, the mayor is asking residents to voluntarily refrain from using water between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. If these practices aren't successful, City Ordinances in the books could allow the city to temporarily shut down water access.
As of Saturday, there is no timetable in regards to when all of San Angelo will have access to water and officials don't feel comfortable predicting a specific date as it all relies on how fast the tanks can be filled and the pressure regained.
In an effort to provide the affected citizens with access to water that will at least allow them to flush the toilet, the city has set up 5 distribution sites. This non-potable water comes from the waste treatment plant and is not meant for consumption. For more details check out: City Sets Up Five Sites for Residents to Pickup Emergency Water
According to Gunter, the City of San Angelo has requested 600,000 bottles of water from the Texas Division of Emergency Management. As of date, the city has received 27,000 cases or approximately 29 truckloads of clean water.
The mayor also addressed the news that Tom Green County had been excluded by the Biden administration in the 77 Texas counties that qualified for individual assistance funds from FEMA.
Governor Abbott originally requested all 254 counties be granted this assistance, but only 77 qualify for individual assistance will the entire state can be granted public assistance funds.
According to FEMA, this is the distinction made between the two types of help offered by the agency:
- Individual Assistance is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) directly to eligible individuals and families who have sustained losses due to disasters.
- Public Assistance can reimburse for emergency protective measures, debris removal, and infrastructure repairs or replacement needed due to disaster-related damage.
According to Mayor Gunter, at this time it is unclear why Tom Green County was excluded from the list, but that in her opinion the Permian-Basin as a whole was not included in the group that will be eligible for those funds.
As a reminder, the entire city remains under a boil-water notice.