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Winter Storm Brings Water System Crises to North Texas, Residents Ordered to Boil Drinking Water

Power outages have not been the only issue residents of North Texas have been dealing with during sustained cold temperatures and negative wind chills. 

Several municipalities have had water supply issues, requiring them to ask residents to conserve remaining water and even to boil water for safety before using it. Some residents have no water service.

Three of the four Fort Worth water treatment centers have lost power, according to Water Director Chris Harder, but the northernmost plant, the Eagle Mountain Water Plant, was still not operational on Tuesday afternoon and did not have the ability to treat drinking water for its customers. 

Fort Worth issued a boil water notice Monday evening. It affects over 200,000 residents in the northern sections of the city as well as nine other localities that buy their water from Fort Worth: Haslet, Keller, Lake Worth, Northlake, Roanoke, Saginaw, Southlake, Trophy Club, and Westlake. 

In a press conference held Tuesday afternoon, Harder explained that power was restored to the Eagle Mountain Water Plant late Monday night, but that the valves were still frozen on Tuesday so that the plant is not yet back in service, resulting in some customers going without any water.

Harder explained that the city is using heaters and other methods to get the valves unfrozen and the plant operational. 

After water pressure is restored, residents can expect to continue boiling drinking water until at least late Wednesday, the water department said.  

Once the water is safe for drinking, another notice will be issued by the city.

Southlake, one of the city’s affected by Fort Worth’s issues, asked residents to conserve water.  

“Please prioritize it for drinking water and essential needs only. Please hold off on cleaning dishes, running laundry, and avoid showers/baths. Dripping water from indoor faucets on exterior walls is okay,” the city’s Facebook page announced on Monday. 

It even pointed out that its firefighting capacity is compromised. “As Fort Worth works to make adjustments to its system, Southlake is not receiving new water from Fort Worth. This means we are relying on what is already in our water tanks. We are working with area cities to help supplement our supply and preserve our fire-fighting capabilities, but our options are not ideal, and at this point, every bit counts.”

Keller, another city in northeast Tarrant County that buys water from Fort Worth, has reached critically low levels of water. 

As we feared last night in our conservation message, the Keller water system has now reached critically low levels. The stores in our water towers have been depleted, leaving only what is left in the pipes,” a post on the Keller Public Safety Facebook page said Tuesday.

Fort Worth has also experienced 17 water main breaks due to the frigid temperatures, Harder announced, but he said these were expected and manageable. 

The City of Weatherford in Parker County, west of Fort Worth, suffered six water main breaks during the extreme cold. It appears the repairs were completed on Sunday and no current water shortage or boil notice is in place there. 

In northern Collin County, the City of Anna is dealing with water system issues due to the cold as well. Residents are suffering from low water pressure.

“Due to the Oncor outages, we have multiple pumps in our system without power. This has resulted in lower than normal water pressure in our system,” the city’s website states. The city has also issued a boil water notice to its residents. 

“In the meantime we are currently working to gather large supplies of bottled water that can be distributed throughout our community,” the city’s Facebook page announced.

Fort Worth instructs its residents, “To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.”

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