Story at a glance
- Texas cities ranging from Houston to Austin are cut off from a safe water source.
- Frozen and burst pipes, along with treatment plant outages, are being blamed as culprits.
While about half a million Texans continue to fight off cold temperatures from Winter Storm Uri without power, many homes are experiencing water supply issues as levels are dangerously low and may be unsafe to drink.
Multiple health agencies across Texas are issuing warnings regarding widespread low water levels and asking Texans to boil tap water to ensure safe drinking quality.
This, of course, is already complicated with many homes still suffering from power outages.
Due to conditions caused by the severe weather, the City is experiencing system-wide low water pressure causing our Boil Water Advisory. If you do have water, please use it sparingly for health and safety. The same goes for power. #ConserveUtilities @HouPublicWorks pic.twitter.com/DgCqu9TqJp— Houston OEM (@HoustonOEM) February 18, 2021
Local outlets report that cities in North Texas are under a boil alert, meaning tap water is not potable, or safe to drink, unless boiled first.
The Texas Tribune reports that about 590 public water systems in 141 Texas counties reported interruptions in service, which affects about 12 million customers, as of late Wednesday.
During a press conference Wednesday, Toby Baker, executive director of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, noted that the disruptions in water supply are due to power outages, frozen and burst water lines, and excessive faucets dripping. Many residents dripped water from their faucets to prevent frozen pipes from bursting.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) tweeted an advisory asking city residents to conserve water.
Water pressure is very low. Please do not run water to keep pipes from bursting. Turn off water if pipes have burst. Please contact us if you don’t know how to turn off water. Be conservative on water usage today. It is needed for hospitals and fires. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 17, 2021
About three hours east, Austin’s city water company wrote on Twitter that its water treatment plants are operating stably, but that it is struggling to keep up with its customer’s supply needs. The citywide boil alert remains in effect.
Our water system has experienced rapid changes due to extreme weather. Water use surpassed typical usage by 250% over the past 24 hrs due to dripping faucets/pipe leaks/line breaks from freezing temps causing pressure & storage to significantly drop. Conserve water when you can.— Austin Water (@AustinWater) February 18, 2021
READ MORE ABOUT THE TEXAS ENERGY CRISIS