Status of Water Systems in Areas Affected by Harvey

WASHINGTON (September 4, 2017) – (RealEstateRama) — Working together, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) continue to coordinate with local, state and federal officials to address the human health and environmental impacts of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, especially the water systems in the affected areas.  As of Saturday, September 2nd, 2017, the following information is available:

  • Drinking Water:  Half (2300) of the 4500 drinking water systems potentially affected by Harvey have been contacted. Of those: 1514 systems are fully operational, 166 have boil-water notices, and 50 are shut down. The agencies are contacting remaining systems to gather updated information of their status.  Assistance Teams are in the field working directly with system operators to expedite bringing systems back to operational status. Additional drinking water assessments should be up and running within the next day.
  • Waste Water and Sewage:  Currently, 1656 of approximately 2469 wastewater treatment plants are fully operational in the affected counties. The agencies are aware that releases of wastewater from sanitary sewers that is occurring, due to the historic flooding and are actively working to monitor facilities that have reported spills, conduct outreach and provide technical guidance to all other wastewater facilities in flood-impacted areas.  EPA and TCEQ are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas Military Department, and other local and state agencies to continuously monitor wastewater systems. Houston’s unified command will be up and running shortly to support water testing. Assistance Teams will be deployed to work directly with system operators to expedite bringing systems back to operational status.
  • Residential Wells: EPA is developing a plan for sampling residential wells, and is coordinating with TCEQ to establish several locations where residents can bring water samples from their wells to be tested.
  • Flood Water: Water quality sampling will be focused on industrial facilities and hazardous waste sites.  Floodwaters contain many hazards, including bacteria and other contaminants. Precautions should be taken by anyone involved in cleanup activities or any others who may be exposed to flood waters.  These precautions include heeding all warnings from local and state authorities regarding safety advisories. In addition to the drowning hazards of wading, swimming, or driving in swift floodwaters, these waters can carry large objects that are not always readily visible that can cause injuries to those in the water. Other potential hazards include downed power lines and possible injuries inflicted by animals displaced by the floodwaters.

Additional EPA/TCEQ updates include:

  • Superfund Sites: EPA and TCEQ continue to get updates about the status of specific sites from the parties responsible for ongoing cleanup of the sites.  The most recent information can be found here.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: One of the many preparations for Hurricane Harvey included EPA, TCEQ, and other monitoring entities temporarily removing approximately 75 percent of the stationary air monitoring equipment from the greater Houston, Corpus Christi, and Beaumont areas. Since then, state and local authorities are working to get the systems up and running again.  As of Saturday, September 2, over 70 percent of the monitors are up and working again; and authorities expect that the network will be fully operational again by next week. Of the available air monitoring data collected from August 24-September 2, 2017, all measured concentrations were well below levels of health concern. Monitors are showing that air quality at this time is not concerning and local residents should not be concerned about air quality issues related to the effects of the storm.
  • Fires at Arkema Facility in Crosby, Texas: EPA and TCEQ are coordinating closely with Harris County Officials along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other local public safety officials. As a result of initial chemical fires while the facility was flooded, EPA has collected downstream surface water runoff samples at four locations outside the evacuation zone, near residential areas. EPA and TCEQ will maintain a 24 hour watch and maintain a 24-hour presence at the incident command operations center near this facility, to support local emergency personnel on the ground.  The 1.5 mile radius evacuation zone remains in effect until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe.
  • Refineries/Fuel Waivers: In addition to waivers for 38 states and D.C., EPA signed four No Action Assurance (NAA) letters on September 1, to help address fuel shortages.  NAA will help expedite the distribution of existing gasoline supplies to both Texas and Louisiana, while the refineries work to re-start and resume normal operations.  Each is effective until September 15, 2017, and should allow for the distribution in Texas of 10 million or more gallons of gasoline to consumers.

For additional information from TCEQ, please visit: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/response/hurricanes

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

EPA employs 17,000 people across the country, including our headquarters offices in Washington, DC, 10 regional offices, and more than a dozen labs. Our staff are highly educated and technically trained; more than half are engineers, scientists, and policy analysts. In addition, a large number of employees are legal, public affairs, financial, information management and computer specialists.

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