Friday, February 28, 2020


The city of Houston has had a bizarre but revealing incident.  Yesterday about midday, a contractor working for the city was moving soil at a pipe repair site and caused a massive rupture in an 8 foot diameter water pipe...a water pipe that supplies water to more than 50% of Houston.

The initial deluge flooded several neighborhoods and left people stranded on car rooftops as an entire freeway was flooded in minutes across all main lanes.

At the office building where I work, we had no water.  No sinks working.  No toilets working.  

Businesses across the city began shutting down.  About mid-afternoon everyone started leaving work early as the mayor asked all non essential businesses to send people home since any building over 2 stories would not have a functioning sprinkler system (obvious fire/human life dangers).

I was at lunch just doing some routine shopping when the boss let us know we could go on home.  I had wondered why every single basket was filled with water.  I ventured to the water aisle and snapped some pictures (above and below).

Here is the reason.  This is the boil water notice for at least 24 hours.  

For Houston...

For ALL of Houston...

Population 2.3 million people...  

That is TWO MILLION PEOPLE who went to work on a normal workday and in an instant their way of life, albeit temporarily, was changed. 

In case you are wondering how this warning looks, this is what his was sent out everywhere via emails, texts, automated phone calls and news media:

"Due to reduced distribution system pressure, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the Houston Main Water System (TX1010013) to notify all customers that they must boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.  Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail."

This has been a real eye opener not only for us personally but to watch the news.  We actually still have two cases of water from hurricane season and we regularly keep a couple of 1 gallon containers of spring water to use for our coffee maker and things like that.  We're good (as long as it's just a couple of days) but it really is interesting to see how fragile our connection is to the things we take for granted, like turning on a faucet and having clean, potable water come out.  

At the farm we have well water.  Someday when we are there full time, we shouldn't have to worry too much about things like this though we do realize some extreme event could contaminate well water.  Still that would be less likely than a city having a boil water notice after a disaster of some sort.

But what if this was not over in 24-36 hours?  What if the boil water notice had to last for days or even weeks?  There is a fine line separating normal life from chaos.  One would hope that other resources (state/federal) would step in to get water to people that needed it but again, this happened in one afternoon, out of the blue, and affected 2.3 million people.  This was more widespread than our last two major hurricanes.  What if they couldn't put together a safe system in a day or so?

Anyone have any good water emergency advice?  Things you do to prepare?


  1. Wow! I caught a bit of this story and until now did not have a clue as to what was happening. I was away from the house and news all day. Being out of touch could put a person at further risk, too. Of course, I suppose the cell would alert me. Buying water was on my list of things to buy today just in the course of things. You write well.

    1. It's an odd story for sure. I mean, scary of course, but odd in what happened and the colossal disaster it caused. We are still, tonight at midnight, under a boil water notice. Hopefully lifted sometime tomorrow. And yes I never thought about that fact, being out of touch and not knowing. Oh and thanks, you are too sweet!!! :-)

  2. I was thinking about all you folks living downtown. (We are well out of the affected zone here.) Mayor says water pressure readings are stable since midnight & again 5 AM & they're working with Tx Commission on Environmental Quality to approve a water testing plan so they can end the boil notice. 610 @Clinton (East End) is open again, at least. It's just amazing what a huge mess one contractor can make, yikes!

    1. Our water pressure was low but we never lost it. Now many places (as you know) around Houston just had zero water. It's weird to turn n a faucet and nothing comes out in the middle of the day, ha. Hoping things get back to normal soon. Glad you were ok too.

  3. Now that I live in town, this could easily happen to me also. But I have brothers and a sister who live outside town who have water wells. So I could drive to their house for water if necessary. And if the electricity was off for an extended time, my brother has a diesel powered rice well.
    But, as you say, we don’t realize how quickly daily life can change. So it’s always good to have a plan.
    Glad that you all were prepared.

    1. Water wells are a blessing in these cases. We could always drive to the farm and load up on water too. 2nd Family has a manual pump of some sort if the power was out. Now we are considering having our own well drilled when we get a new house out there. Just so we aren't so reliant on them. And yes, that's what was so amazing, how in the morning having to boil water later that day was the furthest thing that you could think of. Stay prepared!

  4. somebody didn't call 1-CALL to locate that pipe before digging. what a drag. but yes, the earth is fragile.

    1. Yep!! Someone is in trouble for sure, yikes. The Earth is indeed fragile!

  5. Yes I saw the highway with the people on top of their cars on the news here in Bribsane, Queensland, Australia. Safe drinking water is such a huge resource for humans and animals.

    1. All the way there? Wow!!! And yes, water is the one thing we all share that is so precious.

  6. Some years back I bought a Berkey water filtration system. You could put scummy ditch water in it and it would make it clean for drinking. 2 simple stainless steel containers with filters in the top part. They come in different sizes and the filters are long lasting with regular cleaning, especially if you are mostly filtering tap water. Much cheaper than buying bottled water and you are not adding plastic to the landfill. I have also cleaned out juice bottles thoroughly and filled with tap water and a tiny bit of bleach, leave uncapped for at least 30 minutes and then you can store out of sunlight. Use them for drinking, washing, etc. I have also used the huge jugs from cat litter to save water for flushing and refilled bottles that held laundry soap for washing people, clothes, dishes. Hurricanes and other emergencies make you think of how to manage without city services. I would suggest some emergency measures at the farm too especially if your well depends on electricity to pump it. Best wishes, I always enjoy your blog posts.

  7. What a tragedy for everyone there in Houston. A water line that large doesn't take long to flood the areas causing the whole city the size of Houston having to shut down everything.
    Future doesn't look good for the city contractor and you wonder how many lawsuits will become of all this.
    A person really misses something once something like this is out of our control.
    You wonder what the hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, police stations etc. do in such a situation.
    Hopefully the probable will be fixed soon.
    Take care & stay safe.
    Have a great weekend.

  8. To be prepared, I can water. It is very easy to do and the instructions for doing this can be found on Pinterest. I have used this water several times when our water has been shut off for a full day. It is basically free and has certainly come in handy.

  9. Oh my, this is exactly why being prepared is so important. It's not just about zombies!

    Didn't you get a Solar Oven? If it's sunny out, you can sterilize water in that too.

  10. You want to get scared to death? Read "Dies the Fire" by S.M.Stirling. The power goes,completely. Cars don't run,planes fall out of the sky. The End Of The World As We Know It.. He really writes well,too.
    Hurricane season is just around the corner. We aren't affected that much,but HEB re-routes hundreds of trucks to the Texas coast,so I'm stockpiling bottled water (and non-perishable foods)

  11. Berkey filters towers. we have 2.


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