HOUSTON (NewsNation Now) — Roughly a third of Texas’ population is still facing water supply issues Monday after a winter blast left millions to brave frigid temperatures for days without power.
More than 8 million people across the state are still being advised to boil water before using, though all power plants were back online as of the weekend.
Last Friday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality estimated more than 14 million were on a boil water notice. That number dropped by roughly 5 million as of Sunday afternoon, NewsNation affiliate KXAN reported.
Officials in Houston, the biggest city in the state, said water there was safe to use without boiling as of Sunday.
“As of 7 AM Central Time Monday, more than 1,200 public water systems have reported disruptions in service due to the weather, many of them leading to Boil Water Notices. This is affecting more than 8.8 million people, in 199 Texas counties,” a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Austin is expecting a boil water notice to be lifted city-wide by Monday, according to Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros. The utility company is working to restore its water service throughout the city and as of Monday afternoon, Austin Water has started to lift the boil notice for downtown Austin and significant portions of central, east and southeast Austin. Full restoration citywide should follow later on Monday, Meszaros told KXAN.
“We expect to have all of Austin with water service by today and boil water notice lifted city-wide shortly after,” Meszaros said.
Austin first announced the citywide boil water notice on Wednesday after its largest water treatment plant temporarily lost electricity during the winter storm power outages. Water demand also rose 250% due to thousands of water pipes that burst during the storm, including large water main breaks.
“We understand the enormous challenges that Texans are facing because of either power outages or shortages of water,” Gov. Abbott said Sunday.
The Texas National Guard, the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have brought at least 3.5 million bottles of water into the state over the past few days, according to the governor.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday that makes federal funding available to people harmed by the storm, including assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans.
Gov. Abbott also said the state is “stepping up” to help with busted pipes due to the winter storms, bringing in more plumbers to meet demand. Homeowners or renters who do not have insurance may be able to seek reimbursement from FEMA, he said.
Reuters and NewsNation affiliate KXAN contributed to this report.