A third of Texans still have issues with their water supply after widespread power outages

Water is loaded into a vehicle at a City of Houston water distribution site Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Houston. - David J. Phillip/AP

Originally Published: 21 FEB 21 14:55 ET

Updated: 21 FEB 21 22:31 ET

By Eric Levenson, CNN

    (CNN) -- Water service remained disrupted for nearly a third of Texas residents Sunday evening, a lingering consequence of the widespread power outages from devastating winter weather and an unprepared infrastructure.

While that number decreased by several million over the course of the day, more than 1,200 public water systems still reported disruptions in service, with many leading to boil-water notices, according to Gary Rasp, media specialist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The issues were still affecting more than 8.8 million people -- or roughly a third of the state's population of 29 million -- spread across 199 counties as of 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) Sunday. Rasp said 258 boil-water notices had been rescinded.

Houston announced Sunday afternoon it had lifted its boil-water notice effective immediately. "Water quality testing submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has confirmed that tap water meets all regulatory standards and is safe to drink," the city said in a news release.

Galveston also lifted its boil-water notice midday Sunday and is removing water restrictions, according to a post on the city's Facebook page.

The water issues are part of the sprawling impacts of extensive blackouts: families forced to sleep in frigid homes and cars, scavenge for a hot meal, forgo medical treatment or use melted snow to flush the toilet.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said around 30,000 people remained without power in his state.

"Based upon the speed that I've seen power get restored, I suspect that all power will be fully restored across the state of Texas to every house either later tonight or tomorrow," Abbott said.

The governor said water services were being restored throughout Texas and that more than 3 million bottles of water had been distributed in an effort by the Texas National Guard, US Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Warmer weather and the return of electricity has provided some relief for Texans, but many remain without clean water or in homes that have been damaged by broken pipes and flooding.

That includes Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican, who told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that her own home was flooded. She said her insurance will cover the damage, but that might not be the case for other Texans.

"At some point we're going to have to have additional plumbers and resources, but there's going to have to be dollars follow that to help these folks who don't have the ability to pay this themselves ... and that's going to have to come from the federal government," Price said.

During his news conference Sunday, Abbott said uninsured residents with burst pipes could qualify for a FEMA reimbursement.

"We have had FEMA assistance granted by the federal government, and a part of that is individual assistance that will assist individuals whose homes or apartments have been harmed because of the winter storm," he said.

Share this article:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?