The city of Houston is under a boil-water notice after an unexplained power outage at a purification plant lead to fears of contamination.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reported the drop in water pressure at the East Water Purification Plant, Galena Park in the Houston suburbs after a power failure on Sunday morning.
Pressure fell just below 20 PSI, according to TCEQ, the required minimum to stop the water system being infiltrated.
Soon afterwards, the public was warned not to drink water without first boiling for at least two minutes, or drinking bottled water instead. The boil-water notice covered cooking, washing and brushing teeth. Residents were also warned not to use chilled water lines on refrigerators or automatic ice-makers.
The boil water notice is expected to last until Tuesday morning for Houston’s 2.3 million residents.
“We believe the water is safe but based on regulatory requirements when pressure drops below 20 psi we are obligated to issue a boil water notice,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted.
He later added: “Water samples will subsequently follow and hopefully we will get the all clear from TCEQ. The City has to wait 24 hours from that point before the boil water notice is suspended. The earliest would be tomorrow night or very early Tuesday morning.”
Children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems were advised to be particularly careful due to the risk of harmful bacteria.
Classes were cancelled at schools across Texas’s largest city on Monday.
In a statement to The Independent, CenterPoint Energy, the utility provider for the area, said it was aware of the issues and was in contact with the city of Houston on any potential assistance it may need.
“After learning of the issue yesterday, we assessed our facilities in the area and determined that the power issues were caused by the City’s equipment and not related to CenterPoint Energy’s system,” a spokesperson added.
This article has been updated with the response from CenterPoint Energy