Drought conditions taking heavy toll on city’s water lines
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

City workers Darrell Wilks (top) and Francisco Melendez fix one of the water lines Thursday morning which ruptured due to the drought conditions at the corner of Carter Street and Sprite Drive.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts 

August 3, 2006 - The hot, dry conditions are taking their toll on Northeast Texas in many ways. And while a number of cities in the area have implemented water conservation measures, the problem faced by Sulphur Springs is quite different, as workers try to  catch up with an extremely high number of broken water lines.

As the ground dries out, the soil tends to shift laterally, and City Manager Marc Maxwell said the city's old water lines just cannot stand the stress.

"The ground is shifting dramatically," the city manager said. "We are seeing eight to nine water line ruptures daily, and these are not minor leaks."

Sheer numbers of water line ruptures have forced the city to shift workers from the Capital Improvements Program to help the overworked water department crews and street crews.

On Thursday morning, Maxwell said, there were a dozen or more water leaks lined up waiting for repair.

While other cities are keeping close tabs on water consumption, Maxwell said the leaks are responsible for a significant increase in water being pumped into Sulphur Springs.

"Obviously, we are seeing a 20 to 25 percent increase in water consumption as a result of the leaks," he said.

But even with the increased consumption, Maxwell continued to project the city would not have to consider implementing water conservation measures until the first of next year.

The city in early July still had half of its allocation of water remaining in the lake. Maxwell estimated that quantity would drop to about one-third by September. The city manager still projects Sulphur Springs will continue to stay in the comfort zone this year.

"I really think, by early next year, if the situation doesn't change, we will be switching over to Lake Sulphur Springs water or making those preparations," he has said in the past.

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