MEMPHIS, Tennessee, USA – Some 7 million people in Texas – a quarter of the second most populous state in the country – were advised to boil their water or stop using it altogether at a time when homes , hospitals and businesses deal with ruptures and leaks in distribution pipes and inside homes, many of them in areas that are not used to sustained freezing temperatures.
Winter storms in the past week in North Central, Texas and the Southeast forced water providers to manage the flow, as sub-freezing temperatures were a serious problem.
The Texas town of Kyle, south of Austin, asked residents Wednesday to stop using water until further notice because of a shortage.
“Right now, water should only be used to sustain life,” the city of 45,000 said in an ad. “We’re close to running out of water in Kyle.”
In Memphis, Tennessee, the company that provides the electricity and water asked residents to cut back on water until Friday.
Memphis, Light, Gas & Water said in a statement that it is experiencing a reduction in pressure throughout its distribution system due to freezing temperatures this week.
The company also reported that the levels of the dams in the pumping stations have decreased and that several water distribution pipes have broken. MLG & W asked its clients to take short baths, refrain from running the water while rinsing the dishes, and not wash clothes until Friday. The authorities also asked people that instead of leaving taps running to let the water run and thus prevent the pipes from freezing, they only let them drip.
Oklahoma City authorities said on Twitter that power outages and extremely low temperatures led to an interruption in water service and low pressure for customers.
Three hospitals in Shreveport, Louisiana, were left without water due to the storm, KSLA-TV reported. Municipal fire trucks distributed the liquid, and authorities were delivering bottled water to patients and staff.
In Austin, Texas, the fire department said it has received thousands of calls since Monday to report broken water pipes. On Tuesday alone, the department handled 685 calls about broken pipes.
The weather also severely disrupted the water systems in the Texas cities of Houston, Fort Worth, Galveston and Corpus Christi.
In Houston, residents were asked to boil their water – if they have electricity to do so – because of a weather-related drop in liquid pressure. Austin Water told residents in the southwestern section of the city to boil their water before using it for drinking or cooking.