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City of Houston issues boil water notice

If you don't have power to boil water, you are advised to consume bottled water.

HOUSTON — The City of Houston has issued a boil water notice Wednesday effective immediately.

All water consumed by people and pets should be boiled to kill potential bacteria caused by ongoing water supply issues. That means water used for drinking, cooking, making ice and brushing your teeth.

What boil water notice means

  • Bring water to rolling boil for two minutes, then cool before consuming.
  • Boil tap water even if it is filtered.
  • Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator.
  • If you formula feed your child, provide ready-to-use formula, if available.
  • If you don't have power to boil water, you are advised to use bottled water only. Mayor Turner said he's asked grocery stores to stock up.

RELATED: What to do when a boil water advisory is issued

Mayor Sylvester Turner is also asking residents to conserve water. He is asking everyone to stop dripping faucets to keep pipes from bursting and turn water off if they have burst. 

If you’re unable to turn off your water connection, please call 311 (713.837.0311) and Houston Water will walk you through steps you can take to turn off the water connection.

He said the water is needed for hospitals and fire stations.

Some local businesses, including grocery stores and restaurants, have had to close because of water issues.

"People are working feverishly to do what they can to boost water pressure," Turner said. 

Why did Houston lose water pressure?

Pubic Works said the majority of the city is under the boil water notice with the exception of Kingwood and the area near Willowbrook which is not connected to the main system.

They ask if you do have power at your home to take the opportunity to boil water while you can in case you lose it. Once you boil the water it will last.

Officials said the power outages have impacted the drinking water system. They do have backup generators at all of their facilities as required by law. This was something that the city learned during the outage caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Director of Public Works Carol Haddock said the treatment plants have had backup generators online and direct power to their plants the entire time the entire time and remained in operation. The challenge came from their distribution system.

At around noon on Tuesday, they started to see a decrease in the water presser in a large area of the system and it fell below 20 psi (pound per square inch). Later in the evening, they realized they were not going to recover the water pressure and issued the boil water notice Wednesday morning.

“I am not gonna make excuses, we had gens throughout the system, and they did not start because the temps were too cold for for the gens to start, so we have had to go out and manually warm these gens throughout the system, and get them back up and operational, even though they were fully operational on Saturday,” Haddock said Wednesday morning at a press conference at the George R Brown Convention Center.

Public works said their teams have been working around the clock to get the main generators back in service, to make sure the wells are operational and back online.

The good news Wednesday was that they had increased some water pressure and the east water treatment plant is back up to 70 psi.

As the weather got colder public works said they had to slow down the water treatment process since the chemical feed lines had frozen. It also affected the chemicals they were using.

Another unit at that same plant will be back in service later in the day on Wednesday. That will help increase pressure.

Public works said they are also working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality once they get pressure back up so they can lift the boil water notice.

Nearly all parts of Houston and Harris County are experiencing issues, according to ReadyHarris.

Water utilities are struggling to operate in light of the state power issues.

OEM says this will not improve until more power is restored. 

The boil water routine is all-too-familiar to Houston residents.

Last February, City of Houston residents and parts of Missouri City were under a boil water notice for two days after a massive water main break.