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Kingsville water line repaired after break left some residents without water for days

Broken pipes estimated to be approx. 70 years old
Kingsville water line break.jpg
Posted at 3:48 PM, Dec 16, 2021

KINGSVILLE, Texas — Some residents in Kingsville were without water for four days after a break in a water line near FM 1717 and Hwy. 77.

According the Kingsville city manager Mark McLaughlin, the water line break happened sometime Sunday afternoon.

“This set of lines is pretty complex, it’s a T-intersection, and it’s feeding water from one side of the city to the other. It had more breaks in the general vicinity, in fact, I think there are four of them down here,” he said.

McLaughlin said the pipes in question are asbestos-concrete pipes, which are very old.

“A lot of these lines are 50, 80, 100 years old. We have cast-iron, this is asbestos-concrete from probably middle of the last century, and they just get old over time,” he said. “Asbestos-concrete gets pretty brittle, and so it doesn’t take much to break a brittle pipe.”

McLaughlin said he doesn’t know exactly what could’ve caused the pipe to break, but speculated vibration from cars traveling the nearby road, construction on Hwy. 77, or even the way South Texas soil is composed. He said one thing that made repairs more complicated is the way the particular pipes were shaped.

“Because it’s a T-intersection, there’s a lot of pressure in that water on that pipe. So, as you bring it up, with these splices, it’s trying to push these splices apart, and they have to brace it all,” McLaughlin said.

Irma Hulen was one of the people who was without water for several days this week. She said she noticed her water pressure was low Monday morning, and water was gone a short time later.

“It was all that area, because I called neighbors, and neighbors called neighbors, and none of us had any water,” she said.

Hulen said her water went in and out several times over the next few days, but never stayed long.

“My husband went and got five gallon containers filled up with water at a friend of ours’ house, just so we would have water for commodes, water for dishes, and maybe a portable shower for bathing,” she said.

After around 20 hours of work Wednesday, crews repaired all the water line breaks, and potable water returned to the neighborhood before midnight. McLaughlin said he was proud of the hard work his crew did, but was sorry for the Kingsville residents who were without water.

“The crews did a phenomenal job and got this water back on as soon as they safely could. So, I’m very proud of my water construction department,” he said. “I really apologize to the citizens of Kingsville that live out here that were without water for up to four days. It’s an inconvenience to everybody, and it’s certainly not something that we want to have happen. My crews, they went the extra mile, they were out here for a long time.”

Hulen said her water returned Wednesday night, and she called the city Thursday morning to share her appreciation.

“I thanked them, and I told them we had water. I said 'I know you seldom get thank you, it’s more so complaints', I said 'thank you, and as of 11:00 we got our water',” she said.

McLaughlin said according to city records, the pipes that burst were supposed to be PVC pipes, but they were not. He said they will need to investigate the piping in that area to see where the PVC piping begins, and will likely have to replace all the non-PVC piping. However, he doesn’t have a timeframe on when that could happen.

“So, we’ll have to access it in the future to see how we’re going to make permanent repairs, but for now water is running, and it’s all potable,” he said.