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Water main breaks leaving SAWS crews scrambling, over 400 breaks reported in June

SAWS says they have fixed more than 400 breaks this month.

SAN ANTONIO — At more than 300 million gallons per day during the last few weeks, the San Antonio Water System isn't breaking pumping records yet. But they say usage is so high it is putting a lot of stress on their system.

SAWS Communication Manager Anne Hayden said "That amount of pumping is really hard on the system.   All the pipes, all the pumps that move that water around? They're undergoing a lot of pressure at the same time that the soil is drying up and pulling away from the pipes."

Hayden says in house crews and contractors they have hired are working as fast as they can but the breaks are fast and furious.

"All of that pumping, all of that dryness, is causing a lot of main breaks. So far in June we've had 444 main breaks. Just in June!" Hayden said.

Hayden said even when breaks are reported, there are no immediate fixes.  Hayden said they have to triage the breaks and fix the most dangerous problems first.  They also have to make sure to locate and avoid other underground services in the area around the break.

"When a main break is reported we send a tech to evaluate the situation and see if he can valve it down.  After that we still have to do the locates," Hayden said. She said the goal is to address problems that impact large numbers of customers first, as well as breaks that may cause dangerous traffic conditions if leaking water floods a heavily traveled road.

Hayden says until the area sees significant rainfall, the problems are bound to continue.

"Regarding rainfall, this is the lowest amount of rainfall that we've had, year to date, since 2011 so in more than ten years, this is the driest it's been," Hayden said. 

Because SAWS has diversified water supplies over the past decade, Hayden says even though this is a very dry year, there is a bit of wiggle room with regard to usage.

"It's not a dire situation but we need to respect that it's very dry.  It's very early in the year to be this dry and we have to work together to make sure we pull through," Hayden said.

Hayden said because water restrictions have been in place for a while, everyone should now understand and follow the rules for watering.

"We've been in stage two for a while now and everybody should know their days so if it's your day to water?  Get out there and water.  You can do that. But - don't water not on your days. We're counting on everyone to stick to that once a week," Hayden said.

With about two million people in the local area relying on SAWS, Hayden said any help they can get from customers is appreciated.

Click here to access information about all the programs SAWS has to help save water and money. 

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