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Houstonians ordered water to boil after power cut at city factory

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Residents of the country’s fourth-largest city were told to boil water on Sunday after the pressure of the pump-driven water system dropped due to a power outage, raising concerns about possible contamination.

The cooking post essentially pertains to Houston’s 2.3 million residents. Bottled water is an acceptable alternative, public works officials said in a statement.

The Houston Independent School District said schools would be closed to employees and students on Monday and the closure could be extended depending on how quickly the water problem is resolved.

“We will closely monitor the situation and provide additional updates tomorrow,” the district said in a statement.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement late Sunday that the city is submitting a plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to get approval to lift the cooking notice.

The earliest the city can be freed from the cookout is Monday evening, 24 hours after the report was published, he said.

“We believe the water is safe, but due to regulatory requirements we are required to issue a boiling water alert when the pressure drops below 20 psi,” Turner said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he was advancing the city’s request to expedite water test results and analysis that could put an end to the cooking mess.

“We are currently working to meet the city’s request for assistance with a rapid turnaround of water sample results,” he said in a statement.

A power outage on Sunday at the East Water Purification Plant caused pressures to fall below 20 psi, or pounds per square inch, the state threshold that triggers boiling water alerts, Houston Public Works said.

Not long after, the city’s water pressure was restored to an acceptable level, but if contamination had occurred during the low-pressure period, it could still be flowing through the system, which explains why a boiling alert was in effect despite sufficient pressure.

The pressure of the water system can use the weight of the fluid to occupy cracks and crevices that would otherwise be exposed to outside incursions such as urban runoff. Similarly, hydraulic pressure is sometimes used in timepieces, especially diving watches, to increase resistance to leaks as underwater pressure increases and forces seals and parts together.

In early 2021, Houston Public Works explained that its system is not as reliant on gravity as those in other major cities.

“Houston’s water system is different from other systems in that we don’t use water towers to pressurize the system,” he said. tweeted. “We use storage tanks and pumps on the ground.”

It’s not clear what caused Sunday’s outage. The East Water Purification Plant is located outside of town, in Galena Park. CenterPoint Energy, the utility that serves the area around the plant, said in a statement that the power outage was not a result of the service and that it may have been caused by a problem at the facility.

Joe Studley and Lindsey Pipia contributed.


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