a heated discussion
Ken Hoffman takes Houston's temperature after frustrating boil water issues
As we all probably know, the City of Houston issued a boil water notice at 7:27 pm Sunday, November 27 after a water pressure issue at a water purification plant near Galena Park at 10:30 am — that same Sunday.
Let’s see: 7:27 pm minus 10:30 am equals …
You can crunch the numbers yourself, but leave it till tomorrow to discuss why it took city officials all day to alert Houston’s 2.3 million residents that their tap water might be dangerous to cook with, bathe in, or drink.
Until the boil water notice is lifted, which according to Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, could be Tuesday morning at the earliest, per our latest reporting, here’s what you need to do:
- Boil all water used for drinking, food preparation, bathing or brushing teeth.
- Allow water to boil for three minutes before consuming.
- Do not use chilled water lines from your refrigerator.
- Do not use ice from automatic ice machines.
As we noted this morning, reports are that a power outage at the East Water Purification Plant near Galena Park caused the pressure from Houston’s main water system to drop below the Texas Commission on Environmental Qualities minimum requirement of 20 PSI.
That’s probably a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to most Houston residents, who more likely were racking their brain Sunday night trying to remember if they splashed a teaspoon of water in their scrambled eggs or brushed their teeth after eating a poppy seed bagel or drank a glass of water from the refrigerator door earlier that day.
The City of Houston waited til damn near 10 pm to tell us we been on a boil water notice.. I been cooking and cleaning all day.. I done already poisoned myself.
— Unmarried ham hock with eyes (@whitney_like) November 28, 2022
Yes, adding a teaspoon of water in your scrambled egg mix will produce lighter, fluffier eggs. During a boil water notice, you can substitute milk for tap water.
Sunday night, Turner issued a statement meant to calm residents. He said, “We believe the water is safe but based on regulatory requirements … we are obligated to issue a boil water notice.”
Whew, that’s a relief! Our mayor “believes” the city’s water is safe. “Believes” ain’t good enough, buddy.
Tap water is like electricity. You don’t realize how often you use it until you can’t. Remember when the grid failed during last winter’s deep freeze, when you still were flicking on light switches three days after the power went out?
Houston’s school kids enjoyed a boil water notice day on Monday – classes were canceled by HISD and most other area school districts.
Boil water notices aren’t rare in this area. We were told to boil our water during the freeze last year. In 2020 a boil water notice was issued after a water main break. Some neighborhoods are routinely advised to boil their water.
While the notice was issued for all of Houston, there are pockets of separatist cities and towns within Houston’s borders that have their own water systems. Bellaire has its own system but officials advised its residents to boil their water anyway.
Mayor Andrew Friedberg said, “I’m told staff are preparing to issue a notice for Bellaire, just out of an abundance of caution since we take surface water from Houston. However, we’re isolating our system to take groundwater only, which isn’t affected by any issues with Houston’s system.”
West University Place officials said it’s safe for its residents to use tap water, except for residents of Law Street on the city’s north end. West U has cut off any water from Houston that may enter its system.
I keep a fall/winter home in West U and I’m inviting my friends who live in Houston to come over to brush their teeth.
But, they have to leave immediately after. And they can’t use the toilet.
If you live in one of the “not Houston” communities inside Houston, contact your city hall to see if your water is okay or if it’s on the boil notice list.
What’s next? The city will do what it takes to make our water safe to drink and use again. We’ve been through this before. But there may be some leftover stink. That’s typically what happens when the city corrects a water issue.
Last year, Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock responded to residents complaining their water smelled fishy by saying, “This is a harmless odor that we try to avoid in our water system, but right now Houston Water is disinfecting the drinking water at higher concentrations in response to last week’s water emergency.”
The foul aroma set in two days after the boil water notice was lifted. It took two additional days for the city to “adjust disinfectant concentrations back to normal operating levels.”
While you’re waiting for Mayor Turner to “know” (not just “believe”) that Houston water is safe, bottled water, a 28-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles, was on sale for $3.11 at my neighborhood supermarket Sunday night — for those keeping track.
Contact Ken at email@example.com.
28 bottles of 16.9-ounce purified drinking water at the supermarket for $3. I drink that. I pretend I’m in foreign country.