Disaster declared as Texas city loses water amid heatwave

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Disaster declared as Texas city loses water amid heatwave
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Many residents of Odessa, Texas, have gone more than 24 hours without water after a water main break.

The break occurred as temperatures in the West Texas city reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) earlier this week, with forecasts in the high 90s F (36 C) on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, the water treatment plant is running again but the system needs time to recharge and full water service could take until the evening to be fully restored, CBS7 reports.

A boil water notice is in effect for residents and will remain even after water is restored as officials ensure water is safe.

The city reports that water is being distributed, including to nursing homes.

A judge had issued a disaster declaration as about 165,000 people were affected by the water main break, according to a press release from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The governor has directed state officials to help coordinate the response to the water main break.

The cause of the water main break isn’t exactly clear, but likely due to age, as the pipe is around 60 years old, reports the Texas Tribune. The break first occurred Monday evening, they add.

To repair the break, the city needed to shut down the water treatment plant, CBS7 notes.

There were reports on Tuesday of cancelled surgeries and nursing homes requiring help, the Tribune reports.

Most of Texas has seen intense heat this week as a heatwave powered through much of the US. Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, are especially at risk from heat-related illnesses.

Heatwaves are expected to get both more frequent and more intense as the climate crisis accelerates. Planetary warming has already lead to more extreme heat in most of the world, according the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), considered a global authority on climate science.

As the planet warms to around 2 C more than 19th century temperatures, heatwaves that occurred once every 10 years will now occur almost six times as often and get 2.6 C hotter, the IPCC says. Currently, the world is on track to around 2.7 C of warming by 2100, according to the Climate Action Tracker.

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