Houston Issues Boil Water Notice and Cancels School on Monday
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File photo of bottled water.
Houston, Texas, issued a water boiling alert for over 2.2 million people Sunday night after three water treatment plants suffered a power outage Sunday morning. Houston residents should boil all water used for drinking, bathing, or even brushing teeth for at least three minutes, according to a tweet from the city of Houston shortly before 7:30 p.m. Local time, 8:30 p.m. ET.
Houston residents are encouraged not to use chilled water that flows through pipes in domestic refrigerators. The city also advises that residents should stay away from ice cubes made in automatic ice machines.
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Regulators are collecting water samples that are taking about 18 hours to process, meaning the boiling water advisory is likely to be lifted early Tuesday when all appears safe. As the Houston Chronicle notes, Houston has seen two more reports of boils in the past two years -- during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021 and after a water main burst in February 2020.
The power outage happened around 10:30 a.m. local time, according to the Texas Tribune, and caused water pressure to drop below levels considered safe by health officials. Low water pressure can cause the system to reverse, allowing potential contaminants to enter drinking water supplies, although city water officials do not believe this has happened.
“The reason we are doing the boiling water notice is because of a government requirement. Our system kept the pressure up. We never completely lost pressure, so there was never a chance of anything getting into our system. They fell just short of legal requirements," Houston Water director Yvonne Williams Forrest told local television news station KHOU.
Houston Water Director Explains Citywide Boiling Water Alert
Although Houston's water authorities don't seem overly concerned, the public school district canceled all classes for Monday. School offices will also remain closed.
“Due to the late evening Boil Water Notice issued by the City of Houston, all Houston ISD schools, offices and facilities will be closed on Monday, November 28, 2022. #HISD will be closely monitoring the situation and providing additional updates regarding operations tomorrow," the school district said in a tweet.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive Sunday night from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to use the resources needed to ensure Houston's water is used safely can be.
"The state of Texas is responding immediately and providing support to Houston as they work to bring safe water supplies back online," Gov. Abbott said in a statement posted on his website.
“We have been in contact with Mayor Turner to offer the state's full support and we are currently working to honor the city's request for help in expediting the processing of the water sample results. Thanks to TDEM and TCEQ for the quick response to resolve this issue. We urge those affected by the boil notification to continue to follow the advice of local officials and take proper precautions when boiling and using water. Together, we will ensure our fellow Texans are supported while the city's water supply returns."
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