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Grand Prairie Water Woes Should End Thursday

BJ Austin

UPDATE, Wed. 11:45am:  Water service in Grand Prairie returned to normal sooner than city officials anticipated. They had expected full service to be restored Thursday, three days after the major pipeline rupture. But the city's Amy Sprinkles credits swift and smooth repair and cut-backs in water use by residents with today's return to business as usual.

"We've got the water back on, flowing through the line," Sprinkles said. "We tested it, everything held. We got the water disinfected and we are filling the water tanks today. We are back to regular operations in Grand Prairie." 

Original story:

Grand Prairie officials say things should be back to normal Thursday after a major water main break threatened to leave the city high and dry for a couple of days.  The city's warning that the water could be shut-off sent residents scurrying to stock up.

Estella Aguayo brought two big jugs to a coin operated water dispenser in a parking lot near Center and Jefferson to fill up at 35 cents a gallon.

“I’m just getting water, "she said. My son-in-law called me up and said they were going to cut off water pretty soon.”

At a Kroger, Troy Swinney loaded four cases of water, three gallons of milk and two cases of soda in the back of his SUV.  He was stunned that the city might actually run out of water.

“That was a big surprise," he said. "Me and my family and friends were like, wow is this really happening?

But it didn’t happen.  City Hall spokeswoman Amy Sprinkles credits residents and businesses for cutting back immediately on water use.

“The issue was trying to get demand and use to match up with availability," she explained. "It looks like we’ve been able to get really close to that, but we’d like to keep that demand below availability so we don’t run out. “

Sprinkles says that means another day of the severe restrictions: no lawn watering, no laundry, no dishwashers – only water for personal hygiene.  City officials say they’ll spend today refilling the city’s storage tanks.

Grand Prairie tapped city wells and set up temporary pipelines to Mansfield and Fort Worth to bring in a limited amount of water. But Ron McCuller with the water department says the 60-inch pipe that ruptured is the main source of the water Grand Prairie buys from Dallas.

“You know losing this 28 million gallons that comes through pipeline was a big loss because we use as much as 40 in a day this time of year," McCuller said. "This is about as critical a situation as I’ve ever been in.”

McCuller says the pipeline is about 35 years old, and has a life span of 50. He blames corrosion for the break.   

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.