Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Water suppliers weren’t ready for Ike’s arrival
Polk County Enterprise - October 2008
When the lights went out during Hurricane Ike, the larger water utilities were able to keep their customers supplied, others had outages of a week or more. Residents throughout the county are asking their providers when they’ll adopt measures to ensure power outages don’t automatically cause water outages. Why were some water systems up and running and others were not? Did some companies adopt emergency preparedness measures after Hurricane Rita three years ago and others believe that storm to be one in a hundred years? Are there regulations requiring water suppliers to continue service for health and sanitary concerns? These are a sample of questions recently voiced by many county residents. The answers to some questions are simple. Others are not. Some water suppliers did not lose service.
Other providers had service to customers within one to two days while others were, rather ironically, “dead in the water” until electricity was fully restored. Water suppliers’s duties are laid out in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 30, Chapter 290, Subchapter D, Section 290.45 and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) oversees and enforces these lengthy and complicated regulations. Under the code, requirements for water storage, well capacity, gallons per minute, pressure maintenance and many other technical aspects of water service are outlined in detail. When customers are without service they expect on a daily basis, they do not care how complicated the regulations are. They simply want the service they paid for with hard-earned dollars. This week the Enterprise asked each of water suppliers in the area about their disaster plans and it revealed a wide spectrum of services in Polk County. Here are some of the responses we received. Onalaska Onalaska Water & Gas serves approximately 1,500 customers. Only one subdivision in their service area lost service after Hurricane Ike.
Those customers were without water for a few hours while a storm-related leak was repaired. The cooperative owns and maintains its own generators. Livingston The City of Livingston serves approximately 2,700 customers. The city provided continuous water and sewer service to customers using natural gas generators when electrical service went down. Memorial Point Memorial Point Utility District serves about 500 customers. Service was interrupted from Saturday until Monday. Memorial Point uses contractors from Houston for maintenance and operation of the district. Lake Livingston Lake Livingston Water Supply (LLWS) serves 113 subdivisions and approximately 6,800 customers and represents the largest customer base in the county. Some of the subdivisions they serve are located in other counties. LLWS customers were without service until electric power was restored in each subdivision. Tempe Tempe Water Supply serves approximately 2,000 customers with five water systems.
Diesel and propane generators were purchased after Hurricane Rita and set at well sites. Due to storm-related leaks, some customers were without service for one to two days; however, the majority of customers experienced no interruption. Leggett Leggett Water Supply serves approximately 550 customers with three wells. Emergency plans included purchasing three diesel generators after Hurricane Rita. Service was not disrupted to customers. Pure Pure Utilities serves less than 1,000 customers. Customers received delayed services due to storm-related leaks. Portable generators were used on a rotating basis to provide temporary service to some customers while others had no service until electricity was available. The majority of customers were without service at some time after the storm. The Enterprise attempted to contact other area water suppliers, however, many were unavailable.