Boiling water

Due to reduced distribution system pressure, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the city of Mineral Wells public water system to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption.

Mineral Wells Mayor Regan Johnson, during a radio interview with KHits 95.5 Wednesday morning, said the city ran into problems Tuesday night, with several wholesale customers having leaks that coupled with another main leak near Palo Pinto General Hospital.

The city issued a boil water notice to customers, but some residents were without water due to low pressure in the system caused by the leaks.

The North Rural Water Supply Corporation, which is one of Mineral Wells' wholesale customers, issued a notice to its customers who live in the Millsap/Garner area Wednesday afternoon.

"Mineral Wells has shut their water off to us and other wholesale customers due to breaks and leaks in their main lines," according to North Rural Water Supply. "Once they get us up and going again, we will have to build our pressure back in order for our customers to receive water back in their homes.

"We are hoping this is completed today and everyone will have their service restored by tomorrow."

Johnson told the radio station that the city's tanks were filling back up and "moving in the right direction" Wednesday, though it would still be a process.

As for the boil water notice, Johnson said she didn't expect it to be lifted Wednesday.

"It takes time to go through the TCEQ protocols," she said. "If you are without water at this time it is likely due to low pressure in the system. If you are in your home and near a kitchen sink for example, you can leave that valve open to know when you will get water back. It will also help get air out of the lines. Don't leave a faucet on unattended."

Under the city's notice, 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.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Questions may be directed to Bob Neal, the city's public works director, at 940-328-7775 during regular business hours. For emergencies, including no water, low water pressure or leaks, call 940-328-7865.

Johnson said residents have been "resilient" during this time by helping others, and said she was proud of the city's employees who are "relentlessly working through this."

Mineral Wells has also been dealing with power outages, due to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas requesting rolling blackouts across the state to ensure grid stability.

"We've gotten calls from residents but they are being rerouted [to the water department] because even at city hall, our phone and internet is down," Johnson said.

A large portion of Mineral Wells residents struggled with power outages beginning about 2 a.m. Monday, but most homes had been restored early Wednesday morning, Johnson said.

In a media call Wednesday, ERCOT officials said 40% of "full, installed capacity," which are power generation plants, went offline Monday. Sixty percent stayed online.

Winterization of these plants, while encouraged, is not mandatory, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle.

Officials said power generators had instrument lines freeze during the severe cold weather. Various elements at the facilities froze up, and there were freezeoffs in wellheads. Wednesday, at least one generator is down because icy roads are preventing water from being brought in.

ERCOT officials could not give a firm estimate of when power would come back on for people, but did say they hoped to soon get back to rotating outages that only last 15 to 30 minutes in a best-case scenario. Hours-long controlled outages remain in place, however.

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