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Houston residents can again drink tap water after city lifts boil-water notice

Isaiah Chirip helps push a pallet of bottled water during a water distribution and free flu vaccination event at the Holman Street Baptist Church in Houston on Nov. 28, 2022.
Mark Felix for The Texas Tribune
Isaiah Chirip helps push a pallet of bottled water during a water distribution and free flu vaccination event at the Holman Street Baptist Church in Houston on Nov. 28, 2022.

Houston residents are safe to use and drink tap water again after the city lifted its boil-water notice early Tuesday morning for all customers.

"Customers should flush their water system by running cold-water faucets for at least one minute, cleaning automatic ice makers by making and discarding several batches of ice, and running water softeners through a regeneration cycle," a news release from the public works department said.

Nearly all of the city’s 2.2. million water customers were under a boil-water notice from Sunday at 6:40 p.m. through early Tuesday after a power outage at a water treatment plant.

Two transformers at Houston’s East Water Purification Plant went offline about 10:30 a.m. Sunday due to a ground fault, prompting water pressure levels to drop below required minimum levels. The outage was caused by the city’s equipment, according to CenterPoint Energy, which delivers power to the city of Houston.

Low water pressure allows contaminants to enter drinking water. On Sunday, water levels at most of the city’s monitoring sites were below minimum regulatory levels for less than two minutes. City officials have said there is no evidence of contamination and that the boil-water notice was issued as a precautionary measure. Still, at least four area school districts closed Monday in response, and water customers were told to boil water for at least two minutes before preparing food, drinking, bathing or brushing teeth.

The city collected water samples Monday morning and sent it to a Houston lab. On Tuesday morning, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reviewed the water samples and agreed to rescind the water boil notice.

Residents have criticized Houston officials for poor communication about the power outage and the boil-water notice. The city began making calls to residents around 6:40 p.m. Sunday, several hours after the power outage. But many residents reported not receiving a notification from the city until late in the night.

Disclosure: CenterPoint Energy has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/11/29/houston-boil-water-lifted/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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