PA water leak forces schools, restaurant closings

Published 5:59 pm Monday, November 9, 2015


Students are directed to stay home Tuesday and restaurants are prohibited from preparing food until a boil water notice necessitated by a 36-inch water main break in the city is lifted for much of Port Arthur.

Port Arthur City Manager Brian McDougal said the line likely would be repaired by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. Monday night after a part coming from Texarkana arrives.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We have the part ready, just have to put the clamp on when it arrives,” McDougal said.

Though repairs are expected to be completed by Monday night, the boil water notice will remain in effect at least 24 hours after the water main is fixed, McDougal said.

The break at Savannah and 19th Streets occurred at 5 a.m. Sunday and affects areas south of Texas 73 from Fourth Street between Texas 82 and Taft Avenue. This area includes the West side of Port Arthur including Sabine Pass, and Pleasure Island to the east side of Port Arthur to FM 366.

The main break has interrupted service to several hundred residential and commercial water customers, Jimmie Johnson, director of water utilities, said in a press release Monday.

As a result of the break, businesses and schools are operating with very low water pressure, if any at all.

Port Arthur’s Health Department is requiring all food establishments in the affected areas to cease food services until the water issue is resolved.

The order pertains to ay establishment that cooks or prepares food items, and/or uses water for fountain drinks or ice making.

The primary immediate areas affected include Texas 73 to Fourth Street between Texas 82 and FM 366.

In order to ensure the health and safety of the public, these guidelines must be adhered to, Judith Smith, Port Arthur Health Department Director said.

Rules have been set into place to effectively prevent any form of contamination and/or spread of disease while the city works work to resolve this matter, Smith said in a press release Monday.

All Port Arthur ISD students and staff were told to stay home Tuesday. Custodians were to report to work.

Port Arthur ISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said while students had ample water supply, the problem of flushing remained a problem.

Port Arthur schools are expected to resume classes on Wednesday.

Taft Elementary School, which is located in Port Arthur city limits but within the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District, is also affected by the water line break but will have class on Tuesday.

“We had school today (Monday) and had a good day. It was not an ideal situation,” PN-GISD Superintendent Rodney Cavness said. “We have maintenance workers waiting in the hallway when the children get out of the restrooms and we have ample water to ensure the toilets are flushing. The AC (air conditioning) is working.”

Food service will continue though the menu will be modified.

“We are able to clean using boiled water,” he said. “And today we hauled in about 900 gallons of water there today (Monday). It’s not the perfect situation and I know some parents are concerned. We will not put the kids in an unsafe and unsanitary situation.”

Cavness said they will have additional hand sanitizer available.

Lamar State College-Port Arthur closed its campus and offices at 10 a.m. Monday due to the break, and will remain closed Tuesday.

Those in affected areas are asked to boil water for at least two minutes after water comes to a rolling boil prior to drinking, cooking or preparing baby food.

Johnson said the city is replacing water lines throughout the city to prevent or lessen water breaks in the future. The current 36-inch water main will be repaired in place, which will restore service to water customer in affected areas.

The city is notifying customers of service outages through the Southeast Texas Alerting Network (STAN.) Residents who are not currently in the system can register online at

Customers who don’t have access to a computer can call John Tatroe, support services director of the network at 409-983-8668. The News will continue to publish updates, as they are made available.


Twitter: skooncePANews