The Anna water main break crisis began on Wednesday afternoon, June 26, and left most of Anna without water for approximately 16 hours. The drama continued for four days, however, affecting residents, restaurants, businesses and Anna ISD summer classes.
"Construction workers relocating water and sewer lines at the intersection of FM 455 and State Highway 5 in preparation for the FM 455 reconstruction project ruptured a 12-inch water main on Wednesday afternoon," explained City Manager Philip Sanders. "It was one of those things that may happen during construction."
City crews, which included the entire Public Works department staff, worked frantically through the night repairing the break. In addition, city safety forces were on duty throughout the evening, as was the city’s crisis management team, which includes the entire senior staff.
On Thursday morning, Anna residents were advised that the main was repaired and the city was recharging the water system, a process which would take several hours before full pressure would be restored. Residents were also advised that once water was restored a Boil Water Notice would go into effect requiring water to be boiled for consumption until further notice.
Drinking water was provided for residents by the city with firefighters and county workers passing out water at Brookshire’s parking lot around the clock. Those who could not get to Brookshire’s, such as the elderly, disabled and single parents, were delivered water by the city’s safety forces. The city purchased the water from a variety of stores in McKinney and Sherman "because we did not want to deplete Brookshire’s supplies," Sanders pointed out.
But when things go wrong, they go wrong.
"We saw water seeping out of the ground where the break was repaired," said Sanders. "Obviously something was leaking and we called the contractor out."
What the crews spotted was troublesome. A section of the main was taken out and replaced and two valves were installed. While the repair required shutting off the water to the Westfield subdivision, water pressure for the rest of Anna continued to increase overnight.
When finally the situation seemed to be stabilized, things took yet another bad turn. On Friday morning, an Atmos contractor hit another water main, again on FM 455.
"This was a separate incident west of the first main break," said Sanders. "Here we replaced a six-inch main and had better luck in isolating the water flow."
Finally, by 5 p.m. on Friday, all water main breaks were repaired. On Sunday, June 30, the long-awaited update came at 11:45 a.m. advising residents that the boiled water requirement had been lifted.
Sanders was quick to thank city crews and others outside of the community who came to Anna’s aid.
"We had tremendous support from other communities and agencies with resources that the city could not handle by itself," said Sanders.
During the four day water crisis the city did an outstanding job communicating with residents on the city’s website, social media, e-newsletter and the Code Red emergency alert system.
And in the 13th and final e-newsletter, the message was clear: "We thank our residents for your patience, support and understanding. Our staff needs to rest."