City of San Angelo lifts boil water order, but water issues affected San Angelo ISD

After nearly two days, the City of San Angelo lifted its boil water order on Thursday and announced that its water is safe to drink again.

Crews are continuing to work on repairing a 10-year-old water pipeline that ruptured on Tuesday afternoon in southwest San Angelo, according to a press release.

The City of San Angelo's press release stated the pipeline has a 50-year lifespan, but city officials believe that "a shift in the soil, after months of searing heat, followed by a week of rain" caused it to break.

Administrators at the San Angelo Independent School District had to scramble after the boil water order was issued to accommodate its 14,500 students, who are spread across 24 campuses.

"So that first night, Tuesday, was pretty chaotic, being prepared and coming up with a plan," Derrick Jackson, Director of Communications for San Angelo ISD, said. "We had to look at our number of students at every campus to decide how many water bottles we were going to get."

Jackson said that the school district encouraged students to bring at least two water bottles if possible, but administrators also distributed bottled water to those in need.

San Angelo ISD was also forced to change its lunch menu on Wednesday and Thursday by serving food that did not use water and could be prepared in an oven.

"Our first priority is that our students are fed, but they're fed safely," Michelle Helms, Director of Child Nutrition at San Angelo ISD, said on Thursday.

Furthermore, school officials covered water fountains with plastic bags and placed hand sanitizing dispensers in bathrooms.

Jackson said that it was not easy making sure that each student and every campus received the district's same message of water safety.

"First time I’ve ever dealt with anything like this," Jackson said. "And not only the first time I've ever dealt with something like this, but because of the number of layers that it touches, it's probably one of the most challenging."

According to the city's press release, some residents in San Angelo may still have low water pressure.

Below is the City of San Angelo's full press release:

The boil water notice issued Tuesday was lifted as of 2 p.m. Thursday by the City of San Angelo. City water is safe to use immediately without any further precautionary measures.
The notice was rescinded after the Water Utilities Department reported to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality that pressure throughout the water system exceeded state guidelines and that none of the 21 water samples taken from throughout the system Wednesday night showed any evidence of contaminants.
“We appreciate the patience, understanding and grace our customers have shown through this inconvenience,” Water Utilties Director Allison Strube said. “We hope they know a team of dedicated public servants has been working tirelessly to return water service back to normal.”
Customers may temporarily experience reduced water pressure. Water pressure in the system may not return to normal until after the repair to the broken pipe, which will allow water tanks to refill.
Crews continue to work to repair a significant water main break in southwest San Angelo. All needed parts have arrived, as has specialized equipment to jackhammer rock away from the pipe to complete the work. Difficult site conditions have complicated and slowed repairs.
The break occurred in a section of main that is approximately 10 years old, but has an expected lifespan of 50 years. Water Utilities officials believe shifts in the soil, after months of searing heat followed by a week of rain, caused the PVC pipe to fail. Because it was in an isolated pasture, finding the leak took longer than normal. That caused a precipitous decrease in water pressure in the system, which forced the boil water notice. Pressure within pipelines helps keep contaminants from seeping in. Water quality testing throughout the process revealed no contaminants anywhere in the system.
Following the break, Water Utilities officials rerouted water in the system to ensure continued service to all parts of the community.
Because the work site was submerged under up to four feet of water, it had to be drained and a temporary path and pad built to move heavy equipment into the marshy pasture. The pipe was found to be sitting just atop bedrock, which had to be cut away to allow for the damaged portion of the pipe to be replaced.
Residential and commercial customers with water filters should contact the equipment’s manufacturer for any special instructions following a boil water notice.
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