• September 20, 2014

Water restored, crisis averted in Gatesville

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:46 pm, Wed Oct 30, 2013.

GATESVILLE — Water pressure was restored to Gatesville and surrounding areas Tuesday after electrical power was restored to an intake structure at Belton Lake late Monday, Assistant City Manager Luis Lobo said.

Although the city system supplies water to about 20,000 customers, Lobo said only a handful of users on the east side of Gatesville lost water pressure due to the power failure at the intake structure on Sunday.

About 200 commercial and residential customers and four of the state prison units in Gatesville are under a boil-water notice, Lobo said. The notice may be lifted today when the city receives results of water sample tests.

“It’s been hectic,” Lobo said Tuesday.

Uncertain when Oncor would be able to restore power to the intake structure, city officials rented a portable 2400-kilowatt generator to provide electricity while the system was being fixed.

“The portable generator got here from Houston at the same time Oncor was powering up” the system at around 7 p.m. Monday, Lobo said. “The generator was never online and Oncor made a permanent fix.”

By 10:30 p.m., the “humongous pumps” at Belton Lake were sending water to Gatesville, he said.

Although repairs were made much faster and far fewer people were impacted than had been anticipated, Lobo said, “We have to be 200 percent cautious with water at stake. Water is life.”

The city alerted all water users on the system that water pressure would be cut off at noon Monday for as long as 48 hours.

A water-conservation mandate was imposed, prompting restaurants to close, shoppers to stock up on bottled water and portable toilets to be set up outside county buildings.

On Monday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice set up a command center to respond to the water outage, which affected six prison units housing 8,246 inmates in Gatesville, said TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark. By Tuesday, water was restored to all the units, Clark said, and four — Woodman, Murray, Hughes and Hilltop — were under the boil-water notice.

“Water trucks are still at those (four) units providing drinking water to staff and offenders,” Clark said.

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