News Feature | September 8, 2017

Water Utility Officials Continue Responding To Harvey

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome

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Water utility officials in the region struck by Harvey are using an array of safety protocols and strategies to respond to the storm and secure tap water service for residents.

In West Houston, where treatment plants were inundated with over seven feet of flooding, utility officials asked residents to conserve water.

“Officials urged residents near the West District and Turkey Creek wastewater treatment plants to start conserving wastewater where they can. That means people should flush the toilet less, take shorter showers, and not run the dishwasher,” ABC 13 reported.

“Houston Water is asking the community to conserve wastewater by minimizing water use in sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers,” the report said.

Houston officials also reminded residents their tap water is safe to drink, the report said.

Beaumont, TX, was among the hardest-hit areas of the state. The water treatment plant shut down after the storm hit because backup pumps went down when it was inundated with floodwater, PBS Newshour reported.

James Singletary, the Beaumont police chief, told PBS Newshour that water service was restored to some ratepayers sooner than others. He added that a boil-water notice remained after service was restored.

“That in itself is an amazing story,” he remarked on the water restoration process.

In Beaumont, locals stepped up to make bottled water available after the plant shut down, even going so far as to break into a Coca-Cola facility to pick up 14 cases of bottled water, according to USA Today. That task was accomplished by hovercraft with Coca-Cola’s permission.

“Someone with the Coca-Cola Company informed Beaumont’s Fire Department that the facility contained thousands of bottles of fresh water, but flooding in and around the building prevented people in most vehicles from entering and retrieving it,” the report said. “Compared with most of his rescue missions after Hurricane Harvey, [Bill Zang’s] effort to remove water from the Coca-Cola warehouse was a bit of a lark.”

The above image reflects some of the rescue efforts taking place in Texas, per Flickr: “U.S. Soldiers and Sailors load water onto a U.S. Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter in Beaumont, TX, on Sept. 3, 2017. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region. U.S. military assets supported FEMA as well as state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)”

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Image credit: "170903-F-KA253-0320," U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos © 2017. Public Domain Mark 1.0: