Saturday, February 18, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere...

...and not a drop to drink.

It’s been more than 12 hours since I posted about the Portales Water Event and I’m still without water. As a matter of fact, I gave you what was probably the first (albeit drunken) notice that there actually WAS a Water Event around 1:30 a.m. this morning. In the interests of full disclosure, I edited that inebriated post this morning to change my “two feet deep” water in the streets hyperbole to a more realistic “one foot deep.” And it was at least a foot deep in some places last evening…er…early this morning. If you didn’t follow the link above, here’s what the Portales News-Tribune says, in part, on the subject:

Shortly after midnight Saturday a major water main in Portales broke causing flooding and necessitating that city crews shut down water to the entire city.

According to City Manager Debi Lee, the broken line was a 24 -inch water main near First and Avenue O, behind Taco Box.

Lee said that for a time city water tanks were losing three feet every 20 minutes. Water in the streets rose fast enough along Avenue I that sand bags had to be brought in because of the danger of homes flooding.

There were a couple of other things I didn’t tell you this morning, too. Like the fact the City is pumping water from the broken main directly into the streets. This isn’t unusual, because like a lot of western towns, Portales has no storm sewers. Run-off from rain is channeled directly into the streets and it all winds up, eventually, in one of the city’s main thoroughfares on the southwest side of the city. This street has a channel for accumulated rain run-off engineered/built into the center of the street. During heavy or moderate rain storms I’ve actually seen kids paddling small boats down the center of this street/channel. It’s an amusing sight. The street/channel funnels the accumulated run-off from most of Portales into an arroyo outside of town. Cheaper than storm sewers, and entertaining for kids with small boats.

So, back to pumping huge volumes of water into the street. In this morning’s update, I mentioned I ran down to the convenience store to buy bottled water. I also mentioned the fact it was 12 degrees outside. What I didn’t tell you, Gentle Reader, was about the asshat in the jacked-up 4x4 pickup who thought it was funnier than Hell to drench my car in the bow-wave created by his pickup doing 40 mph through a foot of standing/running water. In warmer weather this would be simply annoying. Being deluged with supercooled water in 12 degree weather instantly created a sheet of ice on my windshield, and friends, that was frickin’ dangerous. In a blink of an eye I couldn’t see a damned thing, flipping on the windshield wipers made things worse. All I could do was frantically lower my window and stick my head out to see where I was going. Not a fun experience in those temperatures, even at my greatly decelerated rate of travel. Not to mention the fact there was still a copious amount of water and ice shavings streaming off the windshield and on to my face. It’s a good thing I wasn’t armed at the time.

So, while a whole town being without water for an extended period of time is pretty tame as far as disasters go (more of an inconvenience, rather), it’s still no picnic. No shower today. Sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Washing my hands and face from water in a saucepan, warmed on the stove. Just minor inconveniences that make good blog-fodder. I managed to get through the day on six liters of water and still have enough left for a full pot of coffee in the morning, assuming I’m still water-less in the A.M.

Laurie, in the comments to this morning’s post suggested having a couple of pop bottles filled with water for emergencies. That’s a great idea, and I used to keep a gallon jug of water on hand just for emergencies and Acts of Incredible Stupidity, like having my water lines freeze up because I forgot to leave a tap dripping overnight. And then there’s this: Since I live in an RV, I have a 30 gallon fresh water tank. Unfortunately I drained the damned thing about a year ago and left it empty since I’ve been docked in this same space for an extended period of time and have no plans to hit the road anytime soon. A better strategy would have been to fill the tank up completely. If I had done that I would have been one of the few Portales residents with running water today. Coulda-shoulda-woulda, and all that. {sigh} And they say wisdom comes with old age. Inquiring minds wanna know: Where the HELL is it and what's taking it so long to get here?


  1. Having lived in NM, I use to keep coke bottles (it is not "soda" or "pop" to me; I'm a Texas girl)full of water on hand for just such emergencies. Things like no electricity and no water were the norm especially on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve when the town of RR was full and everyone wanted to eat out.

    By the way, it is cold and icy here in OK. Being stuck in the house is getting old.

  2. Sorry about your situation and hopefully it'll be fixed quick and in a hurry.Ya never miss the water till the well runs dry, right?As if you needed me to say that. I know you'll be ready next time and of course there probably won't be a next time. Take care Buck and keep us abreast of the situation.And wear cologne!!


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