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Texas Electricity Generation Coming Back, but Water Crisis Is Growing

Feb. 18 , 2021 (EIRNS)—Texas officials estimated the number of homes and businesses without electricity at over 600,000 coming into today—as compared to some 2.7 million yesterday—and that number had dropped to 325,000 by Gov. Greg Abbott’s mid-afternoon briefing. He emphasized that power generation is back online, those who are now still without power are victims of downed power lines or require being manually reconnected to the grid, and that the power company crews were rushing to resolve those.

Temperatures are not forecast to rise above freezing until Feb. 20, however, and Governor Abbott was cautious about declaring the electricity crisis fully over. Officials from grid operator ERCOT were still warning that it might have to institute short, rolling blackouts.

Food supplies in grocery stores, restaurants, and some institutions are running low or empty, but Governor Abbott hopes that this crisis will resolve as roadways become increasingly passable.

Water quality and supply, however, remains a bad and apparently worsening crisis, as the effects of frozen pumps, burst pipes, and low water pressure endanger both. Coming into today, Texas officials had ordered 7 million people—a quarter of the nation’s second-largest state—to boil their tap water before drinking it. By the governor’s mid-afternoon briefing, the boil water order had been extended to 13 million people. An official from the governor’s team reported at the briefing that he and his people had been mobilizing water quality labs across the state, and lining up mobile water quality labs from out of state, in order to have the necessary capacity to test samples from the more than 1,500 public drinking water systems in the state, which are either under boil-water orders already or have some issues developing.

Usually when one water institution runs into trouble, water can be brought in from another area while the problem is being fixed, but this time almost every water institution has been hit, the official pointed out. And it is not just home pipes which have burst, but also those under the streets and those which supply institutions such as hospitals or community centers.

Similar water crises are reported in several cities in Louisiana: New Orleans, Shreveport, and Lake Charles being cited in the media. City fire trucks are delivering water to several hospitals, and bottled water was being brought in for patients and staff; in Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter warned yesterday that water reserves remain low and local hospitals without water face having to transfer patients to other areas.

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