Over 275,000 gallons of wastewater spilled near downtown; Houston public water supply remains safe


A drainage system overflow caused by Tropical Depression Imelda released 275,100 gallons of wastewater near the University of Houston-Downtown, Houston Public Works confirmed.

The spill, at Milam Street and Washington Avenue, was stopped at 3 a.m. Sept. 20, and the city of Houston water supply remains safe. Residents or businesses that receive water through the city of Houston do not need to boil or distill water, a city news release states.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recommends that residents or businesses using private wells within a half-mile of the spill site or affected area use bottled water or boil tap water at a rolling boil for at least one minute before using. Private well users should also have well water tested and disinfected if necessary.

Anyone who comes in contact with contaminated floodwaters in the area “should bathe and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible,” the release states.

This is the second Imelda-related spill reported by the city of Houston. A 100,000-gallon spill that also did not affect public water supply safety was stopped and reported off of Eastex Freeway at 5 p.m. on Sept. 19.

Houston’s wastewater system was the subject of decadelong lawsuit with the Environment Protection Agency that was resolved through the approval of $2 billion consent decree in July.

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Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.
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