LAMESA, TX (KCBD) - City officials in Lamesa say a crisis has been averted Thursday after water levels dropped to nearly nothing on Wednesday.
This comes after a water line break and subsequent problems with the chlorination process in the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority line south of Tahoka. That line provides two thirds of Lamesa's water.
With that line shut off for several days and the loss of electricity to one of Lamesa's 18 well pumps, the city's tanks wouldn't stay full, prompting the implementation of Stage 4 water restrictions and an emergency warning to residents that the city could run out of water.
"It was really our first last-second disaster mode we ever had to get into," Mayor Josh Stevens said. "It's something that is probably going to happen in the future again."
Stevens said the city can survive on four to five days on the Stage 4 contingency plan but this was a unique circumstance. Most of the time, according to Stevens, breaks in the 60-year-old CRMWA line are dealt with behind the scenes and can be quickly corrected by repair crews.
"It's an old, cement casing pipe wrapped in steel wire," Stevens said. "Over time, the West Texas weather, wind and rain will eat anything up, including that pipe. This is a situation we are going to face and the other communities will face along the way. This just happened to be our time, our day that it cracked. It's to no one's fault by any means. It's just deterioration of the line over time."
Many Lamesa businesses were forced to close until the "all clear" was given Thursday morning. As one of the biggest consumers of water in the city, Lamesa ISD let out students at noon on Wednesday and canceled classes for Thursday. Superintendent Jim Knight said the school is prepared for water restrictions with bottled water on standby for consumption and use in the cafeteria, but a complete shutdown is rare.
"You can't find a way to flush toilets without running water, so that was our biggest concern and that's a health concern," Knight said. "It's hard to make provisions for that. We have emergency plans for almost everything from fire, to bomb threat, to just about everything in the book, but when you are dealing with necessities to make school work, it's a little more difficult."
Knight said the missed time will be made up in the Spring. He credits a great relationship between the city and school, and especially with parents, for a smooth decision-making process in an instance like this.
"When you cancel school, parents aren't prepared for child care," Knight said. "They had to take care of their kids the rest of yesterday and today. We appreciate them understanding it's for the greater good of the community and school doing our part."
Stevens tells KCBD his town is small but resilient.
"I can't say enough about our city staff, our water department, our council and people as a whole," Stevens said. "It was a pretty scary situation yesterday and we made it through. Everyone came tougher as one and I'm very propound of the City of Lamesa."