Winter Storm Update
Morning of Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021
Our crews continue to work around the clock to recover from this week’s winter storm. Our focus and commitment remains getting our water systems up and running to provide each of you with running, clean water.
We will have both a drinking water and non-drinking water distribution event today as resources become available. We are thankful for the numerous partner agencies, businesses and individuals that have helped support our efforts this week.
Our operational goals today include:
- Continuing to review our water system for any and all options to accelerate systems coming back. This includes working with contractors, engineers, and City staff
- Planning and strategizing for water restoration to include preparation of tanks, lines and replacement parts should main breaks occur once the system is pressurized
- Preparing for and running distribution events at Whitehouse Fire Department and Whitehouse Junior High
- Working to clear storm drains to ensure runoff from streets
- Coordinating efforts with volunteer teams to provide immediate needs
- Sourcing any and all available resources from Smith County, the Texas Department of Emergency Management, and local vendors
We are steadfast in our efforts to keep you updated and informed as things change and improve.
While road conditions are improving please be cautious when approaching areas of 'snow' such as in the center turning lane of Main St. These areas are no longer soft slushy snow but are frozen solid and extremely hard. Vehicles that sit low to the ground may be damaged when driving in these lanes.
Fire Safety Tip: Check your home for any electrical appliances or extension cords you may have been using outdoors. As the snow and ice begins to melt the risk of electrocution and fire increase.
Report Your Disaster Impacts
If you have/had frozen pipe water damage to your home, please fill out this survey to explain your damages. TDEM will share your information with FEMA and FEMA Region 6 offices. Please report your damages to https://arcg.is/uOrOb.
If road conditions permit regular scheduled trash pickup for residential and commercial customers will resume Monday, 2/22/21 on your scheduled day. Trash collection will focus on household trash pickup only at this time. Curbside recycling will resume Wednesday, 3/3/21 and bulk item pickup will resume Thursday, 3/4/21.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I turn off my water meter?
If you are concerned about leaks and busted pipes once water is restored, you can turn off your water service. Many homes have a green circular lid next to the foundation that contains the ball valve which will turn off the water to the house. If you are unable to locate this disconnect you can turn off your service at your water meter. To turn the water off at the meter you will need a meter key or channel lock pliers. Carefully open the meter lid leaving the large wire intact. Locate the toggle valve or key and turn it until the eyelets (holes) line up. (Example photo of valve below)
Will my water be disconnected for non-payment?
Once the water is restored the City does not plan to conduct non-payment water disconnects for those who have not already paid their water, sewer, and garbage bill. Please make this payment along with the March bill due by 4:30pm on 3/10/2021.
Why are we out of water?The City of Whitehouse has two main water sources. Wells, and a secondary connection to the City of Tyler. Normally, the City uses six wells to supply the City with water. When power outages began, all City wells were without power. We had generators suppling power to the wells, but they are intended to run critical infrastructure and are not equipped to keep pipes and equipment from freezing in subzero temperatures. We managed to keep two wells operational but it was not enough to supply the system and running these two wells without relief would result in long-term outages. Even with our secondary supply with the City of Tyler, our supply and fill lines connecting to their system are frozen as well.
What is it going to take to get water restored?
Warmer temperatures. We hope to see a warming trend over the next several days that will help thaw our frozen pipes and allow our systems to get back online.
Why weren't we better prepared?
We have never dealt with a storm system like this. We always try to account for likely possibilities when designing critical infrastructure. We plan for power outages, tornadoes, flooding, and other disasters. Much like many other cities and utilities, we weren't designed to operate in these temperatures.
Why do other water providers still have water?
Every water system is different. Some water systems are wholly dependent upon other water suppliers, some use a combination of either other suppliers, ground water (wells), or surface water (lakes). Every plant and distribution system includes a myriad of factors that are specific to that location and that system's needs.
Systems have also experienced outages for different reasons. Some have experienced large-scale main breaks, some have had significant increases in demand as people fill bathtubs, drip faucets and experience leaks at their homes. Each of these issues requires a different resolution. Some systems need people to conserve, others need conservation and main break fixes, while others, like us, need warmer weather.
What is the City going to do moving forward?
Over the next few weeks we will do a review of our systems to determine how we can better serve our community. This will include more than just our infrastructure systems. We will look across all of our operations to determine where improvements can be made.