In the latter half of February, Winter Storm Uri wreaked havoc on many homes and businesses throughout the Greater Houston Area. Many systems that supply water in and around the area were impacted by sustained sub-freezing temperatures, resulting in power outages, equipment damage, and the loss of water pressure for thousands of local residents.
Thankfully, Emerald Forest Utility District's operator, Regional Water Corporation, had a plan to handle such emergencies, and worked tirelessly to keep the District's systems fully operational during the freeze event. Lonnie Lee with Regional Water Corp. was happy to answer some questions about their actions before and during the storm.
Below are questions and answered by the District’s Operator:
Q: What preventative actions were taken prior to the storm?
A:We turned on heaters in facilities. When possible, we insulated water valves and opened valves to keep from cracking. Regional turned off lines and drained water to keep from freezing when previous steps were not needed.
Q: Where there any issues at the time of the freeze event (Sun/Mon)?
A: Power issues were the bulk of the issues. Our generators ran at facilities with no loss of water service.
Q: What actions were taken during the storm?
A: Just pre-storm preparation, as mentioned above.
Q: Did you have a tech stationed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant? The Water Plant?
A: No personnel were permanently stationed at facilities, but all facilities were checked all facilities throughout the event.
Q: Are there permanent generators at the facilities? Are they Diesel or Natural Gas?
A: There are diesel generators at two water wells, one wastewater treatment plant, and three lift stations.
Q: Was the customer service office impacted?
A: No power at office and surrounding areas for almost 3 days caused some difficulty in receiving calls, but we were able to maintain communication with customers and residents throughout the event.
Q: How did you avoid having to issue a Boil Water Notice? Did you lose water pressure?
A: We had good generator power and strong water flow through the system. Because of that, we did not need to issue a boil water notice
Q: Did you have techs working in the District to aid in resident water shut-offs, where needed?
A:We dispatched techs out in a limited capacity, as needed. We did not want everyone on the road for their (and resident) safety. We continued to assist residents when we could.
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