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Heat, other factors cause breaks in water lines in East Texas cities

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Aug. 8, 2011 at 11 p.m.

Several cities in East Texas have experienced water line disruptions in recent weeks.

In some cases, city officials are blaming the record heat, but others say broken pipes happen year-round.

City spokesman Shawn Hara said Longview has had about four line breaks in the past two weeks.

"A number of factors can contribute to water line breaks, including the age of the infrastructure, any ground movement, drought conditions, and system demands," Hara said.

"It can be very difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for which a water line failed."

Sean Pate, Gladewater city manager, said the excessive heat and drought have contributed to city water line breaks in the past month, but not for the reasons most people might assume.

"It's not so much the extra water usage, although that might be contributing to the problem," Pate said.

"The main factor causing breakage is that the ground is shifting because of the temperatures and drought conditions, which causes some of the older pipes to break."

In Henderson, City Manager Mike Barrow said the city has not been troubled with water line breaks or other problems with its water supply.

"We get water from two sources, wells and the Sabine River, and we haven't had to ask our residents to take measures to reduce their water usage," he said.

This past week, Marshall issued a request that residents begin voluntary water conservation to reach a goal of 10 percent water use reduction.

Kilgore City Manager Tony Williams said that city is experiencing only routine water line breaks this summer.

"We've been fortunate," Williams said.

"I think whether or not the drought is causing excessive water line breakage has a lot to do with the soil compositions in various cities. Kilgore doesn't have a lot of clay in its soil, which means we're at less risk for drought-related breakage than other places might be."

<em>- Reporters Christina Lane and Robyn Claridy contributed.</em>



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