Following an unprecedented winter storm that stretched from Texas to the New England states, over 14 million Texas residents are still without access to a safe and clean water supply. A boil water advisory is still in effect for 190 counties within the state.
Although several water systems within those counties have continued to stabilize after the storm damage, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has chosen to keep the advisory in place. The advisory to boil water is expected to remain in place for the remainder of the week as officials work diligently to fix the issues at hand.
TCEQ officials continue to work alongside local officials in an attempt to bring the wastewater systems back online. Until this is achieved, the commission will keep the boil water advisory in place. The advisories instruct residents as to the need to drink bottled water and, if that is no available, to boil their tap water because community water could become or is currently contaminated.
Toby Baker, Executive Director of TCEQ, said: "TCEQ is doing everything we can to support water systems as they recover from this weather event. We understand that it's tough to be without water or to have to boil it before consuming it because we're experiencing it firsthand alongside so many Texans."
On Saturday, Texas was declared a disaster area by the Federal government, which allows them to receive assistance from the federal level to aid local and state efforts for recovery. The statewide outage of power had a domino effect, as instabilities occurred in other systems, such as those including water systems and wastewater treatment facilities. At the peak of the storm's disruptions, an estimated 4 million households were reported to be without power.
Some residents have been seeing a spike in their electric bills, despite the statewide outages, with one individual claiming to have received a bill for $17,000 from three meters over the course of only five days of use. As a result of such claims, Governor Greg Abbott called an emergency meeting with several Texas legislature members and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.
In regards to the meeting, Abbott said: “We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”
Do you think the state of Texas should have had contingencies in place for just this type of weather event?