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Portales water outage dries up revenue



PORTALES — Parts to repair a broken water line cost the city of Portales about $800. The cumulative costs of most of a city shutting down are untold.

Officials said the Portales water pipeline was damaged late last Tuesday morning when a contractor cracked it during construction of the reuse water pipeline for the city’s new wastewater plant. That caused city water officials to have to shut water off in Portales for more than 24 hours.

Portales restaurants that had to shut down on Wednesday because they had no water sustained heavy financial blows.

Vines Italian Restaurant and Mark’s Restaurant and Catering Co-owner Karyl Vigil said she and her husband Mark’s two businesses are looking at thousands of dollars in losses.

She said Vines brings in somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500 per day while Mark’s brings in much more.

“Anytime you shut down for a day, it affects your whole month’s worth of funds,” she said. “Life happens. You can’t be upset, because being upset makes you old.”

Vigil said food suppliers expect to be reimbursed within seven days, and reimbursement is difficult when a restaurant has no opportunity to sell dishes it prepared with those foods.

But, she said, in the restaurant business, you just keep going and find ways to make up for the lost day. Vigil said the situation made her realize it’s easy to take simple things like brushing her teeth or taking a shower for granted.

“I’m so grateful it was only 24 hours,” she said.

The only restaurant open in town during the day Wednesday was the Roosevelt Brewery.

Owner Justin Cole said the restaurant saw about a 20 percent increase in customers Wednesday, but wasn’t sure how much he could attribute to the shuttering of other eateries.

“A lot of people who came in were really grateful we were open,” Cole said.

The brewery stayed open without running water by dipping into a supply of distilled water it normally keeps on hand for making its house-crafted beer.

Meanwhile, water flew off the shelves at local grocery stores.

Super Save Discount Foods Manager Tim Russell said the store sold 17 pallets of water bottles over the course of 36 hours. That’s nearly 30,000 bottles, as each pallet holds 72 packages of 24 bottles.

Russell said that is well over twice the amount of water the store would normally sell in that amount of time, but he doubts he’ll see a giant impact on store revenues.

Public Works Director John DeSha said the city could have fared much worse in the situation, considering the pipeline only required $800 in parts to repair. The city lost about 2.5 million gallons of water, roughly equal to a day’s worth of city consumption.

DeSha said the overtime pay for city workers has not been calculated.

“It was kind of a city-wide event,” DeSha said. “At any given point and time, there was 12 of us working on it at once.”

DeSha said the Portales emergency management director and police officers even came out to assist in different ways.

“It’s bad when we have any water loss, but it’s not going to be that bad,” he said. “We were fortunate we were able to shut it down like we could.”


©2015 The Portales News-Tribune (Clovis, N.M.)

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