>> Questions or Comments: ac@tceq.texas.gov
You are here:

Status of systems in areas affected by Harvey

Washington - Sunday, September 3, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ContactRyan Vise
Phone512-239-5000
After Hrs

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. TCEQ has 500 people assisting in response to this natural disaster. As of Sunday, Sept. 3, the following information is available:

Drinking Water: To date, about 2,000 drinking water systems potentially affected by Harvey have been contacted. Of those: 1,757 systems are fully operational, 188 have boil-water notices, and 37 are shut down. Both EPA and the TCEQ are contacting remaining systems to gather updated information of their status. EPA and the TCEQ are working closely with the Texas National Guard, including the 6th Civil Support Team (supporting TCEQ in Corpus Christi), Arkansas National Guard, 61st Civil Support Team (supporting TCEQ in Houston), and the Texas State Guard Engineering Group, and other local and state agencies to continuously monitor water systems. Assistance teams are in the field working directly with system operators to expedite getting systems back to operational status.

Waste Water and Sewage: Currently, 794 of approximately 1,219 wastewater treatment plants are fully operational in the affected counties. The agencies are aware that releases of wastewater from sanitary sewers are 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 Texas National Guard, including the 6th Civil Support Team (supporting TCEQ in Corpus Christi), Arkansas National Guard, 61st Civil Support Team (supporting TCEQ in Houston), and the Texas State Guard Engineering Group, and other local and state agencies to continuously monitor wastewater systems. Assistance teams will be deployed to work directly with system operators to expedite getting systems back to operational status.

Residential Wells: EPA is developing a plan for sampling residential wells and is coordinating with the TCEQ to establish several locations where residents can bring water samples from their wells to be tested. If a private well is flooded, the water should not be used from the well until the following three things have occurred:

  1. Flood waters have receded from the well and the plumbing system;
  2. The well has been disinfected as well as the plumbing; and
  3. The well has been sampled and laboratory analysis report has confirmed that the disinfected water contains no bacteriological contaminants.

Guidance for private well owners can be found at www.tceq.texas.gov/response/hurricanes.

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.

Critical Water Infrastructure: The agencies are continuing to work closely with dams. The larger dams are full in many cases and may be releasing water; the structures are secure at this time. There are 340 high- and significant-hazard dams in the impacted areas, and TCEQ has been able to make contact with 200 of these dam owners. Of these 200, only five dams have been damaged or have failed. We have also been notified that three low-hazard dams have damage. TCEQ is continuing to contact dams to get status updates.

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 at www.tceq.texas.gov/news/releases/status-of-superfund-sites-affected-by-harvey.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: One of the many preparations for Hurricane Harvey included EPA, TCEQ, and other monitoring entities temporarily shutting down several air monitoring stations from the greater Houston, Corpus Christi, and Beaumont areas. Since then, state and local authorities have been working to get the systems up and running again. As of Saturday, Sept. 2, more than 88 percent of monitors are up and working again in Corpus Christi, 85 percent in Houston, and 36 percent in Beaumont. The network is expected to be fully operational again by next week. Of the available air monitoring data collected from Aug. 24-Sept. 2, all measured concentrations were well below levels of health concern. Monitors are showing that air quality at this time is not concerning, and residents should not be concerned about air quality issues related to the effects of the storm.
  • Fires at Arkema Facility in Crosby: 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 gasoline waivers for 38 states and D.C. and diesel waivers for Texas, EPA signed three No Action Assurance letters on Sept. 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. The waivers and NAA letters are effective until Sept. 15 and should allow for the distribution in Texas of 10 million or more gallons of fuel to consumers.

For additional information please visit the TCEQ's hurricane response page.