News Feature | August 30, 2017

Amid Harvey, Houston Drinking Water Facilities Remain Operational

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Harvey has Houston residents bracing for interruptions to tap water availability and safety, but officials are working to assure them that it is safe to drink from faucets.

“What felt like an apocalyptic onslaught of pounding rains and rapidly rising floodwaters brought the nation’s fourth-largest city to its knees on Sunday, as highways and residential streets turned to rivers, waist-high waters choked off access to homes and hospitals, and officials begged boat owners to pitch in with an enormous and frantic rescue operation,” The New York Times reported.

Questions about tap water quality arose immediately, but officials sought to offer assurance. The Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) responded on Twitter to a "rumor" that water would be shut off. "Water is currently safe to drink and meeting 100 percent of need," OEM tweeted.

Houston Public Works added: “All Drinking Water Purification Plants are operational.”

Other cities affected by Tropical Storm Harvey have had to take greater action around drinking water.

“Due to conditions within the city caused by the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, a precautionary boil water notice is being issued by the City of Corpus Christi. A notice from the city public water system to notify customers of the need to boil their water prior to consumption (washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.),” KRISTV reported.

Some businesses sought to help residents store extra drinking water as demand rose for bottled water at stores.

“With stores across the Brazos Valley facing high demand for bottled water, Blackwater Draw Brewing Company is helping Bryan/College Station residents who are hunkering down for a long few days of heavy rain and winds,” WFAA reported. “And, this not your average tap water. It's called reverse osmosis water, a distilled version of water, used in brewing.”

Meanwhile, the Anheuser-Busch Cartersville Brewery “is sending more than 50,000 cans of emergency drinking water to the Red Cross facility in Baton Rouge, ready to be distributed to the Hurricane Harvey disaster zone,” KVUE reported.

To read more about how water and wastewater utilities can prepare for natural catastrophe, please visit Water Online’s Resiliency Solutions Center.