Chipped pipe may have been to blame

By Tony Parra

Debi Lee, Portales city manager, informed city councilors that water department officials believe the failure of the water pipe which caused a water outage on Feb. 18 was because it was chipped when the pipe was placed in 1992.

Lee said that over time the chip turned into a crack and it expanded. Lee said city officials are exploring the idea of having an engineer look at other portions of the pipe to see what shape it is in.

“We need your support in moving forward,” Ortega told city councilors. “There are things we need to have in place. There is a need for more water valves and a master plan for the water system. If the city manager needs to buy six or seven water valves, we need to allow her to do it, immediately.”

Tom Howell, public works director, said the first priority is to get water valves in place and that they are already looking at prices for this work. Howell said a water valve at Avenue K would allow water department employees to shut the water off for a part of Portales instead of for the whole city, as was the case with the Feb. 18 water outage.

Another priority is developing a water master plan showing the infrastructure of the water pipes in Portales.

Lee said loss of water for almost 24 hours caused resident inconvenience and economic loss to industrial park businesses and restaurants.

• Lee said during Tuesday’s city meeting that the Portales city officials will be taking over the Portales Area Transit system on March 25.

According to a letter from Community Services Center officials, CSC board members held a special meeting on Feb. 21 and at the recommendation of Pam O’Malley, CSC executive director, the decision was made that CSC officials would no longer operate PAT after March 24.

Lee said Jim Good, director for the senior citizen center, will be managing PAT with the help of Howell. Public works committee members will review the PAT operations and financial set-up.

She said there has already been interest for the positions to help Good operate the PAT system.