Utility shortages in Texas spread to the state’s water supply as the winter storms continue. Hospitals and millions of homes do not have reliable water service.
A dependable water supply is now on the list of Texan’s concerns after enduring days of power outages and freezing weather conditions. Hospitals in multiple cities are reporting disruption of water supplies and nearly 12 million Texas residents are without dependable, clean water.
Nearly 600 public water systems in 141 of Texas 254 counties reported disruptions in water service. Boil water notices and outright failures of systems impacted nearly 12 million people, a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesperson told the Texas Tribune.
In Austin, multiple hospitals reported losing water pressure on Wednesday.
“Water feeds the facility’s boiler, so as a result, it is also losing heat,” David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s HealthCare, said in a statement published by the Tribune.
Some patients are being relocated to hospitals that currently have water and heat.
Ascension Seton Hospital reported intermittent water issues at several of their facilities in the Austin area as well.
In Houston, Texas’ largest city, hospitals are also reporting water issues.
“Quite honestly, I think we probably could have handled everything up until the water,” Roberta Schwartz, executive vice president at Houston Methodist Hospital, told the Houston Business Journal. “The water has thrown a completely new loop onto everything.”
In Houston’s Texas Medical Center, workers report they cannot even flush toilets, KHOU CBS 11 reported.
“Due to a loss of water pressure, a lot of folks are out of water, including our hospitals,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters on Wednesday.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) announced Wednesday morning that residents using City of Houston water should boil before drinking, Breitbart Texas reported.
A boil water notice is now in effect in our city until further notice.
Please check with your local provider or MUD to see if you are impacted.
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 17, 2021
The water issues impacted many of Houston’s largest hospitals including Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, Texas Children’s Hospital, and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).
“You’ve got to flush commodes, you’ve got to wash your hands, you’ve got to sterilize instruments and equipment,” UTMB Health CEO Dr. Tim Harlin told the local CBS affiliate.
Many hospitals are curtailing elective medical procedures and patient appoints due to the lingering winter storms, Beckers Hospital Review reported. Power and water issues are impacting dialysis patients also.
Texas hospitals are also facing a shortage of oxygen tanks as delivery systems are less than optimal during the storms, the outlet reported.
Electrical power distribution is looking more favorable as less than 500,000 ERCOT customers are reported to be without power — down from more than 4 million two days ago, PowerOutage.us reports.