Sulphur, Westlake, Vinton dealing with broken pipes after freeze

Rita LeBleu

Attending to water system woes was the order of the day Wednesday for local municipalities Westlake, Vinton and Sulphur. Because the winter storm caused unusually low temperatures in the teens, residents dripped faucets to prevent water in pipes from freezing. This, combined with water leaks discovered after the thaw began, has caused a dip in water pressure and levels.

Westlake Mayor Bob Hardy told the American Press, “right now we’re doing OK.”  

The mayor said he expected the water pressure to be back to normal in Westlake by the afternoon.

Leaks causing low levels and pressure can jeopardize the water pumps and other equipment, according to Vinton Mayor Kenny Stinson.

The town had to turn off its water at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, Stinson said. “We are under a boil advisory. If we lose pressure, we might turn it off again.”

The boil advisory goes into effect when water levels dip below the water table, exposing the supply to possible contaminants.

“We have one good-sized water leak in a section of town that has pulled us down,” Hardy said. “The water pressure is a little low. The Westlake public works department has been shutting in a lot of people with broken lines.”     He said six houses were without water on Goos Street because of a leak and a contractor was at work making repairs.

“All homes inside the Westlake city limits have a courtesy valve just a foot north of the meter. It has a green cap,” he said. “They may not know it’s there. Grass may have grown over it.”

Residents do not have to call the water company to turn the water off or on as they do in other cities.  

Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said, “It’s been a crazy 24 hours here. We haven’t had a hard freeze of this nature in many years, and we’re all in the same boat. We ask that residents not drip pipes since we’re past the hard freeze. As things begin to thaw out, we are finding broken pipes. We are out right now trying to cut off as many leaks as we encounter”

“We’re holding steady (water pressure) for now, but we’re going to watch it until late this afternoon,” he said

The Sulphur water system might have to be shut down.

“That’s the worst-case scenario, and we’re trying to avoid that at all cost,” he said.

Danahay said the city has been in touch with emergency facilities and is making them aware of what is going on.

Hardy said all Westlake roads are passable. He said Westlake’s trash day is Friday and Waste Management told the city trash will be picked up that day if road’s are passable on its normal routes.Water fountains at Heritage Square are still flowing in the winter weather in Sulphur on Monday.

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