Entire Texas city without water in the middle of an unrelenting heat wave

Residents of Odessa, Texas, have little or no water after a water main break forced the city to shut down its entire system on Monday.

The city has not determined the cause of the break, which affected around 165,000 people in and around Odessa. Aging infrastructure may have played a role, with officials noting that Odessa’s water system is now about 60 years old.

City of Odessa Water Distribution crews (Julian Mancha / Odessa American via AP)
City of Odessa Water Distribution crews (Julian Mancha / Odessa American via AP)

Many residents have been stocking up on bottled water at grocery stores and lining up for emergency water at city-run distribution centers.

Odessa fire chief John Alvarez said in a press conference Tuesday that the city has been providing emergency water to the hospital and “nursing homes that needed it.”

Some people have been venting about the situation on social media.

“This is what happens when a main water line breaks in Odessa, Texas,” TikTok user yolie915 said in a video showing their supply of emergency water cartons. “We had to go stand in line to get some emergency water...great.”

For any residents still able to access some running water, the city has instructed them to boil it before using it to “ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes.”

The loss of running water comes in the midst of a brutal heat wave in the area. Temperatures in Odessa are expected to reach nearly 100 degrees every day this week.

On Tuesday, Texas governor Greg Abbott said on Twitter that he had directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to deploy resources to the area, which included the delivery of truckloads of water to local distribution points.

As for when water will be restored, Odessa mayor Javier Joven told NBC’s Morgan Chesky that he hoped water could be usable again by Wednesday morning.

“We feel that we’ll be able to restore the complete system (of) water to the city, the entire city, by tomorrow morning,” he said late Tuesday evening.

This is just the latest infrastructure crisis to hit Texas. In February 2021, a severe winter storm caused massive power outages across the state and led to food and water shortages for millions of people.