Winter Storm Update
Morning of Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021
Our restoration efforts remain on track this morning. Overnight last night, we were able to fill the City’s elevated and ground storage tanks. Beginning this morning, crews plan to begin putting water into the City’s distribution system. As early as this morning, we expect that some of our customers will have water. Please know that who specifically will have water service is determined by a myriad of factors including elevation, proximity to storage tanks, any breaks in the lines, or leaks.
As we begin turning on water service, we will also begin flushing the lines, and will continue to do so over the next several days. This means that crews will open fire hydrants around town. When this occurs, water will be pouring out of the hydrants. This is a necessary step to safely pressurize the system and required to get our boil notice rescinded later in the week.
Again, service will be intermittent as our system comes back online. Customers can expect that we will experience water main breaks, leaks, sewer stoppages and other things that may impact our supply. When you receive water you can expect there to be sand or dirt, discoloration, air, odor, and milky water. Once you have full pressure at your home, you only need to run your faucets for a few minutes to ensure your lines are functioning properly. Please do not continually run your water to try and clear it up.
Conservation will still be necessary to ensure our system remains up and running. If each and every Whitehouse resident does their very best to make this community effort a success, we will be able to continue to provide water to the entire City on our way to returning to full capacity.
If you experience a leak in your home or you observe a water main break, it is critical that you call (903)510-7500, option 3. If it is an after-hours emergency call (903)245-8274. We need to immediately address any leaks and breaks to ensure we have enough water to continue to distribute.
Road conditions continue to improve however there are many places that have not thawed completely (typically in shady or low lying areas). Please continue to use extreme caution while driving.
Preparation for Water Restoration
If you believe you have a leak or busted pipe and you can find your shut off valve you may want to turn off water service to your house. If you cannot find that valve you can turn off service at your water meter. There are a few different types of valves used for our water meters. Most valves require a half turn clockwise to shut off the water; others may require a three-quarter turn. Some valves have an arrow on top of the valve while others do not. If there is an arrow and it faces the house that indicates the valve is on and if facing the street it is closed. Please be sure to turn the valve slowly and do not over turn the valve as this could damage it and cause a leak. If you are unsure about this process please contact the water department during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 903-510-7500 option #3 or after hours at 903-245-8274.
If you are not turning off your service at your house or meter you may want to check all faucets or fixtures to ensure they are off.
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.
Republic Services will pick up additional trash bags on your regular trash day that are placed next to your blue trash cart for the next 2 trash pick ups.
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.
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.