Thousands in Texas Still Without Safe Drinking Water

Hurricane Harvey was one of the most damaging natural disasters to ever hit the United States. The hurricane is said to have cost the United States $198 billion dollars, making it the most expensive tropical cyclone on record. The death tolls reached at least 82 people.

The hurricane made landfall three different times over the span of six days, causing massive flooding and destroying many structures in its path.

One-third of Houston was under water at the peak of the storm. The hurricane forced 39,000 people out of their homes with over two feet of rain falling in a 24-hour period. Houston’s metro area, consisting of 6.6 million people, suffered from 203,000 damaged homes and 12,700 homes destroyed.

An issue that remains over three months later is the lack of safe drinking water for over 3,700 people.

The state is dealing with more than a dozen boil-water notices in cities, housing developments and mobile home parks, according to reports from Beaumont Enterprise. Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality states that more than 3,700 people have not had clean drinking water since August.

Seven counties in the state have boil-water notices: Liberty, Jim Wells, Orange, Newton, Angelina, Matagorda and Harris.

Rose City’s boil notice still remains, as the plan doesn’t meet TCEQ standards. The standards for chemicals and pH levels are not met, according to the city’s’ water operator, Janice Ratcliff. Residents are reminded to use water ionizers to lower pH levels, boil water and use filtration systems for safe drinking water.

Running water was restored to the city in September, but the water remains unsafe for consumption unless boiled for two minutes.

“It’s been so touch-and-go,” claims Ratcliff. “It will run good for two weeks, but then something will happen.”

“It just makes no sense to remove the notice just to have to go right back on it,” she explains.

Ratcliff explains that it’s been delay after delay that is holding the water facility back from functioning with 100% efficiency. She claims a lot of the delays are due to insurance companies and FEMA. She agrees with many locals that water facilities should come first.

Faith-based organizations in the city have worked to provide the city with safe drinking water. The organizations are providing residents with bottled water. Mayor Bonnie Stephenson claims that residents have been very understanding through the entire process without anyone getting “real mad yet.”

Hurricane Harvey impacted 2,200 water systems in 58 counties. Harris County lost two water facilities that were either destroyed or deemed inoperable following the storm. Texas has implemented a “current conditions” page on the government website to alert residents of current conditions in the state.

A summary of areas with impacted public water and wastewater systems has been provided. The report was released on December 1 and shows that at the peak of the storm, 203 active boil water notices were present. There were 62 inoperable community water systems and as many as 40 non-operational wastewater facilities. These numbers have since dropped to 13 boil water notices, 3 non-operational wastewater facilities and 2 inoperable community water systems.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.