South Texas Crews Working on Water Supply

9-28-05 - Workers spent Tuesday restoring power knocked out by Hurricane Rita to 12 pumps that carry fresh water needed by 20 petrochemical plants and refiners to resume normal operations, Harris County officials said.

The pumps move 800 million gallons of fresh water daily from the Trinity River to the Lynchburg Reservoir for use by the chemical plants, refineries and others.

More than 600,000 people in parts of Houston, Pasadena, La Porte, Friendswood, League City, Webster, South Houston, Baytown, Deer Park and Nassau Bay are dependent on water from the reservoir. The water level has been dropping because the electricity has been out.

Officials said that without the electricity to the pumps and if the reservoir became depleted, people were facing a two week wait for power restoration and water.

When Harris County officials learned of the problem Saturday, they asked for help from federal energy officials and a local power company to try to fix the problem.

"If we hadn't fixed it pretty quick, we would have seen an interruption of the water supply to major employers, a major source of fuel for all of America and to the city of Houston," Houston Mayor Bill White said Tuesday. "That would have thrown the nation into recession if those plants would not have been up for an extended period of time. ... They need a fresh water supply to run those plants."