On top of the order for more than 200,000 Fort Worth residents to boil water due to a power outage at a treatment plant, the Fort Worth Water Department wants to also quell rumors that it will soon cut off water to the city because "pipes are bursting,” a viewer told NBC 5.
“We do not turn off water to prevent main breaks but we will turn off the water to repair main breaks,” said spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza. “We are seeing more breaks, so people will experience temporary outages” in areas experiencing problems.
Gugliuzza says there are about two dozen active breaks primarily inside Loop 820 where there are older cast iron pipe. Repairs are happening but may be slower than normal to protect crews working in frigid temperatures.
“We encourage people to keep water available in case of a main break,” she said. Reemphasizing water is only turned off to fix a main break.
As the water department responds to the current breaks, it is also trying to defrost equipment to get the Eagle Mountain Water Plant back in service as soon as possible.
A power outage at the plant forced the city to extend a boil water notice to include a total of 212,000 Fort Worth residents. Nine cites that buy drinking water from Fort Worth – Haslet, Keller, Lake Worth, Northlake, Roanoke, Saginaw, Southlake, Trophy Club and Westlake – have been notified.
"The good news is we now have power at all our treatment facilities, but the challenge is everything has frozen up," said Gugliuzza in explaining that several plants were impacted by power outages that started early Monday morning. "We were scrambling around trying to keep different parts of the system up and running but unfortunately we weren't able to do that with the northern most parts of the system."
Gugliuzza said without power and heat, valves and above ground control mechanisms for some of the pump stations simply froze as temperatures plummeted. The issue was not pipes, she said.
In a post on social media, the water department acknowledged that power outages mean some residents are not able to boil water.
"We know the boil water notice makes no sense if customers do not have water. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has specific required language for these notices that we must use, and that is the reason for the notice," the post said.
A plan to set up sites to distribute bottled water to residents also ran into problems, the water department also explained in the post.
"We anticipated having those operational today, but this morning we learned our emergency bottled water supplier is not able to open its plant. The water utility is searching for alternative sources of supply. We will publicize the locations and times once we have secured a supply."
In a notice to residents the city said, "When water pressure is restored, impacted customers should expect to be on a boil water notice through at least late Wednesday. The utility will issue another notice once it verifies the water is safe."
In the meantime, customers with questions can call water customer service at 817-392-4477 or email MyWaterAccount@FortWorthTexas.gov.