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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Campus

Mayor talks to campus about city water leaks


Annise Parker has been served the city of Houston as mayor since Jan. 2, 2010, and was a member of city council from 1998 to 2003. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Annise Parker has been served the city of Houston as mayor since Jan. 2, 2010, and was a member of city council from 1998 to 2003. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Students were treated to hot coffee, finger foods and an explanation of why pipe leaks are causing water shortages by Mayor Annise Parker Tuesday night in the University Center Underground World Affairs lounge.

The event, which was hosted by the Urban Experience Program, featured several speakers on a variety of topics, ranging from the mayor’s Q-and-A to a talk about ways students can organize their time.

Parker called Houston a “water rich city,” saying that it has an “abundant supply of water” in both Lake Conroe and Lake Houston.

“Part of the problem is that the city of Houston is used to an abundance of rain,” Parker said, “This is the driest summer in the state of Texas; this is the driest period in the recorded history of the city of Houston.”

Houstonian’s need to change their relationship to water, Parker said.

“We are profligate water users,” Parker said. “We need to begin to change the way people think about water.”

The reason Houston has a water problem is because of a huge number of leaks in the pipes that carry the water from the reserves to the people who use it.

“On a normal, bad summer day in the city of Houston, I have 200 water leaks across the city. Today I have 1,000,” she said. “That’s been going on for weeks.”

The city is having trouble keeping up with the damage to the pipes, Parker said, and the problem isn’t that Houston doesn’t have enough money; it’s that it doesn’t have enough manpower.

“Let me tell you the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night,” Parker said. “These forces that are pulling our water mains apart and causing the water leaks; once it rains again (…) the soil’s going to swell, and it’s going to torque the water pipes in the other direction. So the leaks are going to happen all over again.”

Those same forces are going to be acting on the ground underneath Houston’s roads, Parker said.

“You can’t see it yet, for the most part,” she said, “but we’re going to have an epidemic of potholes next year.”

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