• October 29, 2014

Pipe break puts focus on Fort Hood

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Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 4:30 am

When a guy operating a backhoe inadvertently busted open the main water artery from Belton Lake to Fort Hood, spilling 29 million gallons of drinking water, he also opened up questions on how Fort Hood is dependent on outside services.

The July 12 rupture caused Fort Hood officials to order soldiers and other personnel to not report to work on July 14. Barber shops, fast-food restaurants and other facilities post-wide were closed. Strict water restrictions were put in place from Harker Heights to Copperas Cove, where taps ran dry and bottled water was flying off the shelves at H-E-B.

Thousands of soldiers lost a day of work and training, and the many civilians who couldn’t report to work lost a day’s pay. Questions also rose about Fort Hood’s security: Can one guy with a backhoe really shut down one of the largest military bases in the world?

Apparently so.

That said, the water break likely hurt the local economy a lot more than it did Fort Hood’s security.

After all, Fort Hood — while it has gate guards and certain restrictions — isn’t really a defensive fortress. Fort Hood is really made for training and offense.

More soldiers likely train and deploy out of Fort Hood than any other place on the planet.

And let’s be honest — no tap water is an everyday fact of life for soldiers out in the training field or in a war zone. There were probably thousands of soldiers out on the training fields of Fort Hood during the water break who didn’t even notice the outage.

Still, Fort Hood officials seem to be taking a lessons learned approach to the water break.

That’s a good thing. After-action reviews are being conducted, and the post will likely be more prepared if something like this ever happens again.

That’s a big “if,” but not out of the question given the constant construction we see in Bell County.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects to Fort Hood’s water shortage is that the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, which controls much of the water flow in the area and maintains the main pipe that was broken, continues to hide the full report of exactly what happened on July 12, including the name of the contractor that broke the 48-inch water pipe.

Fort Hood and the many people who work on post, serving our area and our nation, deserve to know exactly what happened with that break and by whom.

Unfortunately, the water district is keeping much of that information a secret. And it begs the question: Who does the water district really serve?

Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468.

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