With below-freezing temperatures gripping Houston on Feb. 15 and likely to continue overnight, many residents are dripping taps to prevent frozen pipes. The large-scale use of the tactic, however, could cause the city’s water supply to drop in pressure, Houston Public Works spokesperson Erin Jones said.
The city must keep pressure above a state-mandated threshold to maintain its safety for drinking and bathing. When it drops below the threshold, residents are required to boil water before using it. Houston’s water supply is not currently below the pressure threshold to trigger a boil water notice, Jones said.
“If your pipes are frozen, you are not going to be able to restore them until the temperature rises above freezing,” Jones said.
Houston’s water system is different than other systems in the we don’t use water towers to provide pressure to the system. We use ground storage tanks & pumps. Dripping the system can stress pumps and cause systemwide pressure issues, &possibly lead to a boil water notice
— Houston Public Works (@HouPublicWorks) February 14, 2021
The recommendation comes as 1.2 million residents are without power in the Houston region due to electrical supply failures.
Low water pressure and discolored water at individual households is due to frozen or burst pipes on an individual property rather than a citywide water supply issue, Jones said. Discolored water and signs of burst pipes should be reported to 3-1-1.