City officials expect water service to be restored this afternoon

Karl Terry, Portales News-Tribune Managing Editor

According to Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department, residents should have water within the next 90 minutes.
Crews that are on site of the water break that occurred on Sunday evening have completed installing a valve and pipe to fix the break. Crews are know in the process of turning designated valves on to begin charging the system and releasing air, Berry said.
Residents east of the water break should expect to have water within the next 45 minutes, while residents to the west are expected to have water soon after that. Full restoration of water to the city should be on by approximately 1:30 p.m., Berry said.

As much as half the city of Portales was without water Sunday evening after a water main break forced shutdown of parts of the water system.

By nightfall, potable water tankers had been brought in to supply Roosevelt General Hospital and Heartland Continuing Care with water if necessary. Another tanker was located at the First Baptist Church for residents without water to draw from.

“We’ve cut a significant amount (of service) off right now to get the water down in the affected area,” said Capt. Lonnie Berry spokesperson for the Portales Police Department, speaking from the PPD mobile command center around 9 p.m. Sunday.

The Portales Municipal Schools cancelled school Monday due to the water main break, according to a press release from the school district.

The problem appeared to be with a 24-inch line on the west side of Portales — the same size line and the same general location of a break that occurred last year. The entire city was without water for more than 20 hours following that break.

City crews were busy pumping water away from the area of the break across the highway, adjacent to Super 8 Motel on West U.S. 70.

Berry said the areas that are affected were all service west of the break and the 18th Street and Oklahoma Drive, businesses and residents in the area around Eastern New Mexico University and areas north of the break.

Berry said anyone needing water could obtain it from the tanker at the First Baptist Church at the corner of First and South Avenue C. He said residents would need to bring their own containers to transport the water in, however.

City officials had no apparent cause for the break and water department crews were still trying to clear water away from the break so that the damage could be assessed and repairs made. Crews left the area briefly Sunday night as a lightining became a threat. With its passing they planned to stay on scene until repairs were made.

Berry said he planned to keep the police mobile command center operating until the water was restored. Mutual aid from surrounding fire departments was helping with the water stations and other issues.

“It looks like they’re (water crews) going to be up to their rear ends in water for awhile,” Berry said.