Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter gave what he called a “hopeful” 72-hour window of time for the water pressure to be restored to the majority of the city.
“At this moment we are comfortable saying that if we can have our community support, if people will turn off those dropping faucets, if we can identify those leaks ... we believe in the next 72 hours we should have sufficient water pressure for the majority of the city of Lake Charles,” Hunter said.
This recent winter ice storm was declared as a federal disaster by President Joe Biden, marking this as the fourth federal disaster in Lake Charles in the past 12 months and the 10th in the past 25 years.
“There will be some reimbursement from the costs that we are incurring right now, and that’s the most immediate thing that it means. It could mean some pipeline of dollars opening up for the private sector — it’s a little too early to determine that. Just the fact that declaration was signed by the president is huge, and it signifies how serious and how intense this event has been for the city of Lake Charles,” Hunter said. “I don’t know if you research every city in America if you can find one (other) city that has had four federally declared disasters over the course of 12 months.”
“We find ourselves right now in Lake Charles in a very unhappy and not a very popular club to be in right now,” Hunter said.
Lake Charles is joined by 13 million Texans and Louisianians all suffering from severe water system issues as a result of this recent winter weather.
Progress continues to be made throughout the city as employees from Lake Charles and Lafayette scour the area for leaks and abandoned structures.
More than 750 leaks since yesterday have been found and capped according to Utilities Director for Lake Charles Keith Heise.
“All six of our water plants are continuing to operate at a very high level,” Heise said. “We’re very pleased with the production coming out of our plants.”
Heise said the pressure is continuing to rise and stabilize further into the system. The plants are continuing to produce double the amount they usually produce this time of year. The demand is extremely high as of now.
Hospitals have been allowed to run tanker trucks around the clock from the Lake Charles water systems, causing an extreme but necessary demand on the system. The city of Westlake has offered some of their own tanker trucks to help with this demand.
“We are going to continue to ask for our public’s assistance in trying to reduce this demand,” Heise said. “You know, one of the ways that we see that this demand is occurring is our wastewater plants. (They) are still receiving double the normal amount. That is an indicator to us that water is still coming through the faucets.”
Heise advises those with irrigation systems to go out to those systems and turn them off to prevent leaks and excess demand.
Multi-level structures are still expected to experience some difficulties with water pressure due to height and the water level continuing to be low across the board.
“Water employees, employees from other departments, contract employees and Lafayette Utilities Systems employees are scouring the city right now turning off water meters at any structure that has a leak and, at this point, any vacant structure,” Hunter said.
People are asked to continue to turn off dripping faucets, check their properties, and to report leaks to the city by calling either 491-1483, 491-1414 or 491-1346. The first two numbers are directly to a live person, while the third will go to a voicemail.
“What we are facing right now is Mother Nature. She has been brutal to us and over these last 12 months, she has really thrown everything that she could at us. We are at a better spot today than we were yesterday. We continue to see improvement daily. We continue to see improvement hourly.”