Portales officials looking into water system repair

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Officials have planned a meeting Friday to discuss ways of repairing broken water lines without having to shut off water to the entire city of Portales.

The community was without water almost 24 hours on Saturday when a pipe cracked and water began to burst out of the ground on the city’s west side.

Officials said they had no way to fix the broken pipe without shutting off water to everyone.

“There are not many valves,” Public Works Director Tom Howell told Portales City Council members on Tuesday. “The thinking may have been, when laying the pipes down, is that the adding of valves adds to the cost.”

Howell said a 17-foot crack at the bottom of a 24-inch pipeline caused about 5 million gallons of water to flood city streets just after midnight on Saturday.

He could only speculate about the cause of the crack, but said it may have been connected to a dramatic change in weather, from warm to cold. He said the PVC pipe was installed in 1992.

City Manager Debi Lee said water department and other city officials will meet about 2:30 p.m. on Friday to discuss the lack of water valves.
“The big issue is that it is expensive,” Howell said. “We need to look at areas and phase in valves.”

City Councilor Mike Miller said he’s heard good things about Saturday’s work from city employees and water co-op members. “You guys did an exceptional job. It was a terrible inconvenience (for Portales citizens),” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.

“As bad as it was, it was a wake-up call as to how important water is and to pay attention to our future.”