The dollars, refunded through federal relief funding, will be spent on nearly 20 projects, from performing waterline repairs to installing backup generators at 15 water system facilities.
Damage across residential properties was extensive. Houston Public Works reported that about 1 in 4 residential water customers suffered from burst pipes during the freeze.
As a result, Houston City Council also approved a rate adjustment program March 10 to prevent water customers from overpaying high water bills resulting from burst pipes or leaks.
Efforts to prevent similar issues in the future are still being discussed, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, including the possibility of “microgrids” that would power important public infrastructure during extreme weather events. The microgrids would provide power specifically to facilities, such as water treatment plants, rather than having those rely on a broader grid system that could be subject to rolling or unplanned blackouts, Turner said.
“Most of the generators did work. There were 10 to 12 that did not, and many of those generators there had problems because they were purchased after Hurricane Ike in 2008,” Turner said. “At the same time, I’ve instructed public works to address that situation or look to another system, such as microgrids, that will tie into the Texas system and turn on automatically.”
City Council's Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee will likely review proposals for microgrids or new generators in April, Committee Chair David Robinson said.