The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Community faces boil water notice, offers resources

Community faces boil water notice, offers resources - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Photo Illustration : A pot of boiling water. San Antonio Water System implemented a citywide boil notice urging residents to boil water before consumption. Photo by: Maegan Mendoza

Updated on Feb. 23: San Antonio Water System has cleared the water boil notice for all its customers. SAWS has issued the following tips for people transitioning out of the water boil notice:

  • Flush pipes by running each hot and cold water faucet for two minutes.
  • Flush, clean, and sanitize appliances that use tap water (such as ice machine and dishwasher) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.
  • Take proper steps to flush ice machines by following the manufacturer’s instructions, including at a minimum:
    • Throw out any ice remaining in all bins.
    • Make one additional batch of ice in each machine, and discard this batch of ice.
  • Put in new replaceable filters on refrigerators and other appliances.
  • Run drinking fountains continuously for two minutes to flush the system.

“SAWS is asking all customers turn off their irrigation systems as water pressure is normalized throughout the city,” according to their website.

Five days into an unprecedented weather event, many local residents are still without water services.

Despite some water services being restored, there is no normalcy. On Feb. 17, San Antonio Water System implemented a citywide boil notice.

SAWS advised to boil water for at least two minutes prior to using it for consumption, cooking and ice making. By doing so, residents will cleanse water of potential bacteria. 

“It’s good advice,” said Walter Den, professor and coordinator of the Water Resources Science and Technology program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. “For those of you who do not have a water purification system, do boil water right now before you drink it.”

We should note that standard water filtration methods – such as filter pitchers or refrigerator filters – are not sufficient, according to SAWS.

For residents still without power, SAWS offered alternatives to stove top boiling. Water can be boiled outdoors on a camping stove, grill or fish fryer. Both SAWS and Den emphasize the importance of not using an open flame in the household and be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Den said although he had water, he experienced power outages. He is following the guidelines and notes the longer water is boiled, the less chance of exposure to microorganisms. Den himself boils his water for five to seven minutes. 

Water pipes have created more issues for residents. Busted and frozen pipes can further delay the restoration of water service. 

To aid residents, SAWS opened seven water distribution locations and is providing bill relief for customers. A&M-San Antonio will be a bottled water distribution site until March 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

By Feb. 19, about 20% of Bexar county SAWS customers were still without water, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

“There needs to be a conversation or preparation for having this type of weather event again sometime in the near future,” Den said. 

Boil water notice:

  • Boil any water going to be consumed and used for cooking or ice making
  • Bring water to a vigorous boil, then let it boil for another two minutes
  • For those without electricity, water can be disinfected by adding 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water. Shake well and let sit for 30 minutes prior to consumption
  • Never use an open flame in the house or enclosed space. Beware of potential monoxide poisoning

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, boil water to brush teeth, but it is not necessary for showering. Use caution to not swallow water while showering. Consider giving children and infants sponge baths. Boil water prior to giving it to pets.  Dishwashers are safe if the final rinse of water temperature reaches 150 degrees or if it has a sanitize cycle. For handwashing dishes, use hot water and in a separate bowl, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of warm water. Let dishes soak in the water for at least a minute, and then let air dry. 

Water distribution locations:

Seaworld – 10349 Military Drive. W

Mission – 615 Theo Parkway

Seale- 254 Seale Road 

NACO (drive-thru)- 13655 O’Connor Road 

Maltsberger (drive-thru) – 8910 Jones Maltsberger Road

University (drive-thru) – 7172 W Hausman Road

SE Booster (drive-thru) – 1208 S. Loop 1604 W

  • Residents are asked to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions and maintain social distancing
  • Residents are required to bring their own water containers and are limited to 5 gallons per person
  • Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until the water system is operating normally.

About the Author

Asiah Mendoza
Staff Writer
Asiah Mendoza is a communications junior with a minor in psychology. Born and raised in San Antonio, she enjoys writing and listening to music in her free time. Her favorite things to do are go to concerts and discover new artists. After graduation, she hopes to combine her two interests and become a music journalist.

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