Pumping the Streets: Drought Brings Mandell Place Residents Free Water

What to do when the city can’t get around to fixing that leak on your street? An enterprising resident of Kipling St. near Dunlavy bought an $80 pump at Southland Hardware and connected it to a hose, allowing neighbors to take turns watering their lawns with the water, which has been running for about 2 weeks. “I hope the cost of the electricity is less than the water cost savings,” he tells Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia. Garcia herself called 311 about the leak more than a week ago, and says others who have reported it say they’ve been told by city officials that the heat and drought has caused more than 400 water leaks around the city, and that the biggest leaks are being tackled first. As of last night, a second pump has begun operating up the street.

Photos: Candace Garcia

12 Comment

  • Seen this in several neighborhoods around this fair city.


  • pipes are busting all over the city. i’ve seen several that were also breaking through cracks in the road. At this rate, water rationing is going to be here before we know it

  • There was a crazy big leak on West Grey just infront of Barnaby’s. I noticed it at around 9PM when i went to eat, and when we left Byzantin at 1:30AM it was still pouring out. I’m talking shooting into the air a good 20+ ft. Crazy amount of wasted water, i wish i’d had some buckets to water some nearby brown trees/plants.

  • the only other sensible way to reclaim some of that wasted water is to place a reclaiming berm in the path of the water. Like this:


    Innovation is king in times of shortage.

  • Duh… every time there is a hotter/drier than normal summer this happens. The Public Works or Water Dept acts like it’s the 1st time it has ever happened and go into their big excuses and crying about there being soooo many leaks and they can’t keep up… ever see the pace those people work at?

  • @markd, jus thow fast do you think they ought to work? Repairing a water leak usually entails using a backhoe. I’ve seen backhoes, not City ones, hit gas lines twice through carelessness. The city guys work their asses off in my experience. They worked 18 hours straight to repair a break caused by a contractor in Midtown 9 years ago.

  • I have moved to Austin (but still check in at the Swamp from time to time) and one morning earlier this month, I went to get my paper and noticed a small stream heading down the street. I called 311, others likely did as well and it was fixed by noon.

    I was stunned. After 30 years in Houston, that level of service amazes me.

  • @Ross – I think they should work Austin fast.

    Last time the city was out to fix a leak over here in Winlow Place it was many days after many phone calls that many crews made many trips to repair one not so big leaky curb. One crew dug a hole. One crew worked in the hole. Another crew came back by and filled the hole. The last crew(3 LARGE people) came by after all the others and threw some chunks of sod down on the mud where the hole once was.(This was most interesting to watch, due to the size of the people and the pace at which they moved)

    Could have been much more efficient, but hey, I work in the private sector…

  • We had a water leak like this one two months ago. Took six weeks to fix.

    Lots of free water for the neighbors, though.

  • Update from Austin – this morning, the steert cleaning machine was out to suck up the dirt and rocks left from the repair. I’m the one blown away.
    So how come one city can do this and another cannot?

  • Houston has 400+ active water leaks. They can’t get them all fixed in a day. Austin doesn’t have the same soil problems Houston does, and has fewer breaks. Houston could fix all those leaks quickly, but I’m not willing to pay for 500 extra public works employees. Losing the water costs a lot less.

  • clever @Finness!