More than 14 million Texans still have issues with their water supply

Gov. Abbott is convening an emergency meeting to look into the situation.


Water service remained disrupted for about half of the residents of Texas early Sunday, a lingering consequence of the widespread power outages from devastating winter weather and an unprepared infrastructure.

More than 1,300 public water systems have reported disruptions in service, with many leading to boil-water notices, according to Gary Rasp, media specialist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. On Sunday the issues were still affecting more than 14.1 million people -- or slightly less than half the state's population of 29 million -- spread across 197 counties.

The water disruptions have been slowly declining now that the majority of power outages have been restored. As of Sunday morning, 145 boil-water notices have been rescinded, Rasp said. The city of Galveston lifted its boil-water notice midday Sunday and is removing water restrictions, according to a post on the city's Facebook page.

The water issues are part of the sprawling impacts of extensive blackouts: families forced to sleep in frigid homes and cars, scavenge for a hot meal, forgo medical treatment or use melted snow to flush the toilet.

Warmer weather and the return of electricity has provided some relief for Texans, but many remain without clean water or in homes that have been damaged by broken pipes and flooding.

That includes Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican, who told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that her own home was flooded. She said her insurance will cover the damage, but that might not be the case for other Texans.

"At some point we're going to have to have additional plumbers and resources, but there's going to have to be dollars follow that to help these folks who don't have the ability to pay this themselves ... and that's going to have to come from the federal government," Price said.

Burst pipes and surprise electric bills

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, noted just how widespread the water issues are for many.

"Let me just say right now with so many homes across the city having pipes that burst because of the frigid weather and major leaks, major water damage, we need a lot of plumbing materials and supplies like right now," he said.

"We have a number of licensed plumbers but could use even more. But the main thing is that even when plumbers are going out, it is very difficult to find the necessary materials and supplies. And we're needing water as well for people across the board."

Turner said that the water pressure in Houston is finally back to normal, but the city remains under a boil water advisory. The city is waiting on the state's response on if the water system is "ready to go," which could happen anytime from later Sunday to Tuesday, he said.

In addition, some Texans are facing unprecedented price hikes in their energy bills as a result of the recent storm. Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw said he got a $7,000 bill from his electric company, which charges customers at a market rate.

Texas' utility regulator, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said Saturday that it is investigating "the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes."

Gov. Greg Abbott is also convening an emergency meeting to look into the situation, according to a statement released from the governor's office.

The winter weather also caused major delays in COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, but the backlog is just temporary, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

"The number was six million doses got delayed, we've gotten two million out and we project that by the middle of the week, we will have caught up," Fauci told NBC's Chuck Todd.