February 15th, 2021, Texas was hit by the historic winter storm Uri, the first in many years. The storm left millions of people living without electricity, water, and heat after tearing through the state. In preparation for the storm, USW Utility Group’s (USWUG) dedicated team was working around the clock to take extra measures to ensure that everything was in order for our customers and clients. Our team took time to run through the annual winterization process, a process performed at each facility to prepare the plumbing system and components, so they are not affected by temperature extremes. USWUG pushed to make sure everything was secure for a storm no one could have anticipated.
USWUG’s management team was on the phone with our local officials around the clock, gathering updates and going through the Emergency Preparedness Plan. Our staff monitored the conditions and communicated with one another to ensure that all facilities were prepared. We could not have predicted the rolling blackouts that left so many without power for days.
The City of Houston could not maintain water pressure due to massive water line breaks and customers running faucets to keep pipes from freezing. Due to loss of pressure, Houston had to issue a boil water notice to the entire area and surrounding communities.
One of USWUG’s main clients in the area, HC Municipal Utility District (MUD) 412, directly connects with the City of Houston. Earlier this year, USWUG treated for iron bacteria in the groundwater well so the District could blend their water, not having to rely on the City of Houston’s water. USWUG managed to shut down the interconnect with the City and supply the District from their groundwater well, keeping them from issuing a boil water notice. “I am proud that our District never lost water through this historic storm. Sincere thanks and compliments to your team for all you are doing to keep our operations running as smoothly as possible,” said HC MUD 412 Board President Mark Oehl.
Along with all the damage in Houston and throughout Texas, the Chickasha Water Treatment Plant located in Chickasha, Oklahoma,
suffered damage from a leak at the pumphouse piping. The leak, caused the pumphouse to spray water far and wide, transforming the building into a scene from Frozen. While the image is dramatic, the facility’s damage was relatively minor, and the dedicated USWUG staff restored operations in very short order. Through strategic thinking and dedicated staff, we managed to keep things running and received many thanks from our customers and clients.
The winter storms that devastated many southern states this year were challenging on so many fronts. Some of the areas impacted were unaccustomed to such severe weather and were not adequately prepared for the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures that ensued. Tragically, the storms left power outages, boil water advisories, deaths, and vehicular accidents on an unprecedented scale in their wake. The sub-zero temperatures caused pipes to burst, damaging businesses, homes, and municipal/state infrastructure. As a company, we are very grateful that we could prepare for and handle this devastating storm with minimal complications that were not too much for our talented team to take on.