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86,000 megawatts in the summer. ….

86,000 megawatts in the summer. …. 86,000 megawatts in the summer. ….

86,000 megawatts in the summer. But according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, on February 17, 46,000 megawatts of power were offline statewide - 28,000 from natural gas, coal and nuclear plants and 18,000 from wind and solar.

The weather also caused major disruptions to water systems in several southern cities, including Shreveport, Louisiana, and numerous Texas cities where residents were asked to stop letting water drip from pipes, a practice to prevent freezing, because of a major drop in water pressure from burst pipes.

On February 17, nearly seven million Texans were under a boil water advisory, and about 263,000 people were affected by nonfunctioning water providers, Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said at a news conference.

In the major cities of Austin, Houston and San Antonio, where temperatures plummeted to historic lows of 7, 13 and 9 degrees respectively, residents were told to boil their water because the pressure drop allowed bacteria to seep into the pipes.

And the city of Kyle, south of Austin, asked residents to suspend their water use entirely until further notice because of the shortage.

“Water should only be used to sustain life at this point,” officials of the city of 48,000 said in an advisory. “We are close to running out of water supply in Kyle.”

Water service was also temporarily unavailable for much of Abilene, Texas, on February 15 and resident assistants at McMurry University found ways to keep toilets flushing at their dorms by filling up coolers from the campus swimming pool. Residents there and in other areas where water service was suspended were melting ice to keep toilets running.

On February 17, in anticipation of a growing number of broken pipes and other water problems, Gov. Abbott announced the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners could give out provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers to help with repairs. Mr. Abbott said he would also issue a waiver that allowed plumbers with expired licenses to help as the state recovered.

Damages to U.S. homes and pools is substantial: freezing conditions combined with power outages quickly resulted in burst pipes, flooded homes and damaged property. Home owners were reporting flooding from burst pipes whose water melted when the power came back on briefly David Crow of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Arlington, Texas, said they had over 2,200 calls in 24 hours.

But anyone who works in hydraulics – and that certainly includes pool and spa service professionals - will be extremely busy in the coming weeks if not months. Texas service professionals were reporting completely frozen pools, frozen and burst plumbing, trashed equipment and equipment shortages that had already been depleted by Covid.

Because the work load is so great, Texas pool service companies solicited and received offers of help from outof- state service professionals and leak detection specialists on Facebook group pages. And because of the equipment shortages, some even offered to load up trailers and U-Haul’s before they arrive.

Many Americans were reported to have died from the effects of the storm including a 77-year old Louisiana man, who drowned after falling into an icecovered swimming pool.

Others across the country died from exposure, fires, carbon monoxide poisonings, car accidents, falls and more.

Equipment pad in North Richland Hills, Texas. Photo credit, Jason Lehmann, The Water Connection.

Equipment pad in North Richland Hills, Texas. Photo credit, Jason Lehmann, The Water Connection.

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