Houston public schools will be closed on November 28 after the city issued a boil water notice on November 27 due to a loss of water pressure at a purification plant, according to officials. The Houston Independent School District said on Twitter that it is monitoring the situation.
“Earlier today, the water pressure dropped below the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s required minimum of 20 PSI during a power outage at the East Water Purification Plant,” the city said in a news release on November 27.
According to the city, water for drinking, cooking, washing hands and faces, and brushing teeth should be boiled for at least two minutes before use to kill all potentially harmful bacteria and other microbes. According to the utility’s website, Houston’s drinking and wastewater utility serves approximately 2.2 million customers per day.
According to Houston Public Works, water pressure has been restored, but the boil water notice will likely remain in effect until at least November 29 morning to allow for proper testing. Erin Jones, Houston Public Works Public Information Officer said that a water sample plan has been sent to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
After the water sample plan is approved, the City of Houston Public Works must collect the water samples, who will then send them to TCEQ, where they must sit for 18 hours to see if anything grows on them, according to Jones. The state will give the city permission to revoke the boil water order if no bacteria are found on the water samples. According to Jones, the city cannot revoke the boil order on its own; it must wait for the state to do so.
The revocation of the order will undoubtedly take longer if something does grow on those water samples, Jones continued. “We are working closely with the City of Houston and stand ready to review the city’s water sample results and offer any technical assistance that may be needed,” TCEQ said in a statement.