City of Odessa Overwhelmed With Water Violation Calls

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The city of Odessa has been flooded with calls from people reporting water wasters. It's so bad they're having to hire additional help to catch violators.

Odessa code enforcement officers have been so overwhelmed by water complaints, they just can't keep up. Now the city is rolling out a heavier presence of enforcement officers to get people to comply and to drive those numbers down.

"Water is such an important thing right now that it's really an issue that we really need to address and try to gain compliance," Community Development Director, Merita Sandoval, said.

But getting people to comply is the problem.

Just one week into two-day watering restrictions, Odessa residents are still going over the daily limit.

On Tuesday, July 5th, the city was 4 million gallons under the target limit, but Wednesday was different.

"We didn't do so well," City of Odessa Public Information Officer, Andrea Goodson, said. "We went about 8 million gallons over."

Sandoval said since water restrictions started, code enforcement officers have been stretched thin.

"I've been having some of the staff work 12 to eight in the morning or three to eleven," she said. "We were seeing evidence of water in the streets and places it shouldn't be."

Now they're trying to keep up with the demand of cracking down on water wasters.

"We already have hired two inspectors and we will be hiring two more," Sandoval said.

They even had to hire a temporary clerk just to answer phones.

"It's almost non-stop all day long and the majority of them are about water," Sandoval said.

"With questions comments, complaints, suggestions, you name it," Goodson added.

Code enforcement is now on a 24-hour patrol, on top of keeping up with regular workloads.

"We've got over 400 wells that our guys need to verify," Sandoval said.

"The hope is with the 24-hour code enforcement officers, people will understand this is very serious," Goodson said.

They said the message is out there, but it's up to residents to do their part in this drought.

"People need to step up, adhere to the restrictions and do what is right," Goodson said.

"Odessa is in a serious situation and we have got to cut down our water usage," Sandoval said.

Right now, the biggest violation they're seeing is nuisance water runoff. They want to remind residents this ordinance applies to everyone even if you have a well.

The city is also encouraging all residents to call their water hotline. That number is 432-257-0572.