Galveston residents asked to conserve water amid shortage

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter, Jake Reiner - Reporter, Megan Kennedy - Content Editor

GALVESTON, Texas - Galveston residents are being asked to conserve water. The city said its reserve water tanks reached the "critical water shortage conditions" stage.

The city was flooded with thousands of phone calls the past few days as the city is experiencing issues related to freezing temperatures.

City employees and local plumbers were working together to assist residents throughout the island.

"It didn't take us by surprise, but it's not something were use to dealing with," Brian Maxwell, the Galveston City manager said.

The city is "prepared to forgive any excess use due to the inclement weather on all customers' bills before they are mailed," the city posted on Facebook.

The leaks on the island have depleted the city's water supply to the point its reserve tanks have fallen below 30 percent of their capacity, the city said, but Public Works crews have been able to increase the tanks to 50 percent capacity Friday morning.

"This is kind of a different emergency where we're having all these water leaks and their having a drain on the system, so we feel like we can isolate it and get to it fairly fast, but if we don't start some conservation measures now, it may catch up with us now before we get all the leaks repaired," Maxwell said.

The city is asking residents and businesses to conserve water until the majority of all of freeze-related leaks are resolved.

Second, homeowners are also asked to check on their properties if they have not yet done so.

Maxwell said a lot of homes on the west part of town, which tend to be rental properties, had a lot of leaks, but crews went out to shut off the water.

They're now concerned for the center of town, where there are a lot of older cottage-type homes.

Turning the water on at one Tiki Island home is the result of frozen pipes.

"I'm thinking the hot water itself has something to do with problem islandwide," Mike Ricarte said. "Wednesday night I noticed that even the hot water had gone down to a trickle, and it's just about completely nonexistent."

While Public Works crews soldiered on through the night, fixing city pipes and turning off water, local plumbing companies like Island Mann Plumbing are swamped.

"Some of these were on the board; already active calls," Raymond Mann, co-owner of Island Mann Plumbing, said.

They're phoning customers, diving under homes and climbing ladders, all in an effort to stop the leaking.

"We're trying to prioritize where there's no water at all as best we can to get to them as soon as possible," Mann said.

The city needs your help while it's in Stage 4 drought contingency plan. That means limited landscape irrigation, no washing of vehicles and no filling of swimming pools, to name a few restrictions.

The Stage 4 drought plan is expected to be in effect at least through the weekend.

The city is asking people to report problems at www.galvestontx.gov/freeze or by email at customerservice@galvestontx.gov.

People will not have to pay for the excess water usage due to the leak as long as they have documented it with the city.

For additional questions or concerns please call the City Manager’s Office at 409-797-3520.

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