As Texas begins restoring power after a devastating week of freezing temperatures and winter storms, the state is confronting a new crisis: overwhelmed water systems that could extend misery for much of the population.
Leaks caused by frozen pipes have pushed the water supply to the brink. About 13 million Texans, nearly half the state’s population, remained under a boil-water advisory Thursday, according to Executive Director for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Toby Baker. More than 700 water supply systems are impacted.
In Austin alone, the state capital’s water supply lost 325 million gallons due to burst pipes, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said during a news conference Thursday.
“We know that there are tens of thousands of leaks,” Meszaros said. “As the fire department indicated they have responded to thousands upon thousands of burst pipes.”
At the peak from Tuesday night into Wednesday, the system lost 325 million gallons, he said.
“That is an incredible amount of water. Nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he said.
While temperatures in the 60s and 70s are expected to provide relief next week, some Texans face another round of record lows Friday night into Saturday morning. More than 25 million people were under a hard freeze warning through Friday morning for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The conditions have placed Texans in dire circumstances all week, with many boiling snow for water or having to burn household items for heat.
Read more about the situation here.