San Antonio Water System will join Texas cities such as Corpus Christi, Arlington and Fort Worth this afternoon by issuing a boil-water notice, CEO Robert Puente said during an emergency city council meeting.
"This is a precautionary boil-water notice," Puente said, explaining that state regulators require residents to boil water they consume when water pressure is low. The order will not apply to water used for bathing and other uses.
"If you're going to consume water from your tap, boil it," he added.
During this week's crippling winter storm, power outages have plagued SAWS's pumping stations, which has led to low pressure or a complete lack of water in some neighborhoods. Puente said the utility will continue to have problems with its pump stations as long as the intermittent power continues.
CPS officials said problems with power outages will likely continue through Saturday as it grapples with ongoing winter weather that's placed unprecedented strain on the state's entire power grid.
Steve Clouse, SAWS's chief operating officer, cautioned that problems with water pressure and outages are likely to continue even once normal power levels return. Burst pipes at homes and businesses will further burden the system.
Clouse added that the utility is now in talks with San Antonio-based grocer H-E-B about making bottled water available to residents. It only has one tanker truck with which to deliver emergency water, he added.
Councilman John Courage told SAWS officials that they can't afford to let homeowners sort out the problem of burst pipes by themselves, prolonging the problem. He urged the utility to help customers switch off service and conduct repairs.
"We can't just rely on residents to take care of the problem when their pipes are bursting — not in this situation," he said.
Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan said she's frustrated that SAWS was only now having conversations with H-E-B about distributing water.
"That conversation is too late," she said. "When we knew we had a system coming in, we should have had an acting planning session, not waiting to see what happens."
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