The 10:30 a.m. outage caused the plant’s water pressure to drop below the required level. That caused water pressure issues for some residents that were resolved later in the day, public works officials said in a statement.
More generally, however, the outage raised doubts about the safety of water for 2.2 million customers. Houston’s order issued Sunday night directed residents to boil all water used for eating, drinking, bathing or brushing teeth and to avoid using water from refrigerators or ice machines.
It was not clear what caused the water plant’s blackout, why it took the city 10 hours to issue a water boiling order or how quickly the order could be lifted.
Houston resident Jacqueline Westman posted photos on Twitter Off supermarket shelves Sunday with only a few cases of water left: “There will be people in communities who will know about the cooking notice tomorrow and most likely won’t be able to buy water from their nearby supermarket.”
Westman also wondered why it took the city so long to notify residents, especially those in low-income neighborhoods without internet access.
‘Public Works has a huge budget and we all found out two hours ago. What about those who aren’t on Twitter?” she wrote. “We deserve answers.”
In response to complaints from residents who received the message after cooking, brushing their teeth, showering or bathing their children, Houston Public Works posted on Twitter that there are “proper procedures and protocols in place before a boiling water notification can be issued,” and that it consulted with state environmental officials “to ensure that all steps were taken before the notification was issued.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement that he had been in contact with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) about the order to boil water, which Abbott said was due to a power outage at three water plants — two more than Houston officials had cited.
Abbott said state environmental quality officials were “working to meet the city’s request for assistance with a rapid turnaround of water sample results” and noted that the state “stands ready to review the City of Houston’s water sample results and provide all necessary technical assistance.”
“Texas is responding quickly to help get a safe water supply back online in Houston,” Abbott posted on Twitter.
While areas around Houston have issued boil water orders in recent months and other Texas cities have issued this year, Houston has not experienced such a widespread water emergency since the statewide freeze and power crisis in February 2021.
Houston is the largest city in Texas, led by Turner and other Democratic officials in a Republican-dominated state. Water problems have plagued several cities in recent years, from Baltimore to Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Miss.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation into whether Republican-led government agencies in Mississippi discriminated against the state capital by refusing to fund improvements for its failing water system that led to water pump failures, loss of running water and boiling water. water orders extending from summer to autumn.