McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Half of the population in the South Texas border city of Laredo are in their fourth day without water after a major water main broke over the holiday weekend.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz on Monday told Border Report that at least 125,000 residents remain without water after cracks in a 36-inch water main were first discovered Friday.
“That 36-inch-line had three breaks primarily because of old age, it’s a 50-year-old line that needs to be replaced,” Saenz said.
City crews were working to “patch” the cracks and thought they had it under control, “but one loosened up and now we are in the process of repairing it again,” Saenz said via phone.
The ruptures resulted in low water pressure for most of the city. But many have no water at all, including large sections of central, south and eastern Laredo, Saenz said.
A boil-water order has been issued for the entire city until the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deems the water safe, Saenz said.
City officials are asking all residents not to run dishwashers or washing machines or water lawns to allow water pressure to build back up in the entire system.
In a Facebook post on the city’s page, officials wrote: “Laredo we need your help! If you are not affected by the water line break, we are asking you to please conserve water. If you are one of the many affected and you have low water pressure and/or a little bit of water please we are asking you not do laundry, or load your dishwasher or water the lawn for at least tonight. We are asking you to do this so that everyone can have water as soon as possible.”
“We’re asking people who are getting water to truly conserve usage for basic needs so the pressure may build up and we can get water to others,” Saenz said.
The city needs a complete redesign of its water system, Saenz said. But just to replace inner-city lines and tanks will be at least $500 million.
Two and a half years ago, the city council authorized $200 million for repairs, of which currently they are utilizing $52 million. But he said until all schematics are complete and repairs begun, residents should expect future water issues.
“I’m telling people to expect more breakages,” Saenz said.
This is the third major disruption of water services in Laredo in two and a half years.
The city, which is across from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, relies entirely upon the Rio Grande for its drinking water.
Previously the city had trouble with low chlorine levels, including a break in water services during the February freeze in 2021.
In September 2019, residents were forced to boil water for 11 days after water supplies were contaminated.
The recent outages came as the city was expecting 400,000 visitors for its annual Washington’s Birthday Celebration Parade and other events, which had been canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.