About 10 million people in Texas still don't have safe drinking water on Monday and are relying on the state government to provide bottled water that's in short supply, a week after a rare winter storm rolled in and disrupted treatment plants.
The state lifted water boiling notices Sunday for about 5 million of the 15 million people originally under the order, the Commission on Environmental Quality said. That includes Houston, Texas' largest city.
"The city of Houston boil water notice has been lifted," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted late Sunday. "You may use for drinking, cooking, washing."
"Our community helped each other through tough times and once again showed why we are Houston Strong," he added in a statement.
This is WRONG. No power company should get a windfall because of a natural disaster, and Texans shouldn’t get hammered by ridiculous rate increases for last week’s energy debacle.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 21, 2021
State and local regulators should act swiftly to prevent this injustice. https://t.co/Qo2e4pwv4z
The government has so far given out almost 4 million bottles of water to residents in need, according to Gov. Greg Abbott, but some distribution sites have run out. A site in Fort Worth went through 50,000 bottles on Sunday.
About one-third of Texas' population of about 30 million people are still without drinkable water, including residents in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
The emergency started last week after a rare bout of freezing cold temperatures, snow and ice arrived in Texas and crippled many of the state's basic services, like water and power. The outage affected water treatment plants, which were forced to shut down and halt operations.
By Monday morning, only about 11,000 customers statewide remained without electricity, according to poweroutage.us. Last week, at peak disruption, more than 4 million in the state were in the dark -- as well as hundreds of thousands of others in neighboring Louisiana and Mississippi.
A major problem now for many Texans is steep sticker shock over their power bills. Because Texas operates its own energy grid and allows customers to opt to pay for power wholesale, that means utilities can charge customers more at peak demand times.
As a result, some customers have seen bills for thousands of dollars for just a few days or weeks of service.
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