Houston’s water returns to ‘normal operating pressure,’ mayor says; Boil water notice likely to be lifted Monday

A boil water notice in Houston will likely be lifted Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner reiterated during a briefing Saturday.

Earlier this week Houston residents were warned to boil their water -- if they had the power to do so -- after water pressure plummeted throughout the Houston-area.

Dozens of nearby municipalities, including the Pearland, Katy and Sugarland areas have also issued boil water notices.

Residents are advised to use bottled or boiled water for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes until the notice is lifted.

According to the public works department, the city’s water pressure dropped below the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) required minimum of 20 pounds per square inch on Tuesday afternoon, prompting the water boil notice.

A combination of bursting pipes and equipment failures at water distribution facilities amid extreme winter weather caused the plummeting water pressure, said Carol Haddock, director of public works.

Since Wednesday, water pressure has steadily improved across Houston and on Saturday city officials reported Houston’s water pressure had risen to a “normal operating pressure” citywide.

The public works department tasked itself with pushing the city’s system wide water pressure to 35 psi by the end of the day Friday. Ultimately, Haddock said, it made “significant progress,” achieving an increase to 55 psi and receiving approval from TCEQ to take regulatory samples.

Per regulation, once water pressure returns to normal levels, a 24-hour observation period on water samples must occur before a boil water notice can be lifted. If no bacteria is found in the samples, the boil water notice can be lifted.

“I will take every prayer and every good thought that you have towards are samples coming back,” said Haddock. “We are confident that are system is table, we are confident that our system is treating water the way it needs to be treating water and we are looking forward to good results at some point late tomorrow so we can achieve that Monday timeline.”

City officials said residents should see a noticeable improvement in their water pressure.

“I do want to thank the public works team, under the leadership of Director Haddock, for working around the clock,” said Turner. “This is a large water system that we have and when your pressure drops to 15 psi, that’s low pressure. To bring it up in this period of time to over 50 and to normalize the system, that’s major.”

Haddock said that individuals who still have low water pressure should check in with their neighbors and confirm whether the low pressure is an isolated problem or not.

“If they have full pressure and you don’t have full pressure, start looking around your house of leaks that you’re not aware of,” said Haddock.

Though water pressure has returned to normal, city officials urged residents to continue conserving water.

“I know it’s a beautiful day and normally in the city of Houston, people would rush to get their cars washed,” said Turner. “I’m going to ask that you hold on that car washing and I’m going to ask car washing companies, businesses if they will hold for this weekend. Let us get past this crisis, this challenge and then you can proceed.”

During the briefing, Turner also announced that water distribution sites remain open in city council districts. Information for many of these sites is posted here.

Turner also added that a fund will be created to assist those recovering from infrastructure damage related to the freeze. CenterPoint Energy’s Chief Executive Officer David J. Lesar had agreed to serve as the fund’s chair.

Watch a replay of Turner’s news conference below:


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