HOUSTON Dry conditions are taking a huge toll on the area s infrastructure as city officials face a record number of water main breaks.

Alvin Wright, the spokesman for the Houston Public Works Department, said his crews are tallying an average of 500 to 600 active water main repair orders every day. At one point, those orders peaked at more than 700 a day, he said.

Previous hot summers brought just about 200 daily leaks.

We, as everyone knows, are fighting an epidemic of water main breaks, Mayor Annise Parker said last week.

That epidemic is forcing the city to hire emergency contractors. But even they can t keep up with the increased workload, Wright said, adding that about 40 crews were working daily to fix the leaks.

OnWednesday, the director of the public works department, Dan Krueger, briefed the City Council and the mayor about the water main breaks. He said crews are only about to repair about 80 leaks a day.

I've never seen a summer like this, said Isidoro Mercado, a city employee who spent Tuesday trying to fix several leaks in southwest Houston. Hopefully, we'll get rain soon.

Most of the water main breaks are happening in the northwest and southeast parts of the city, Wright said.

In some areas, water pressure is being affected. If the pressure drops below a certain point 35 p.s.i. the city would have to start issuing boil water advisories.

Wright said that s very unlikely because work crews have been able to maintain the average pressure between well above 40 p.s.i.

Other municipalities are dealing with a similar increase in leaks. Many of them are struggling to find the resources to fix them quickly.

In Bellaire, for example, a large water line has been gushing since Friday.

David Mata, an employee at Money Part Pawn at the corner of Bellaire Boulevard and Chimney Rock Road, said the leak has only gotten worse in front of his business.

It gets a little dangerous because (drivers) start zipping through here, he said.

Work crews Tuesday worked most of the day in the blistering heat to fix the line.

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