Mar 18, 2021

How Winter Storm Uri Stressed Texas Water Plants | WWD Weekly Digest

How Winter Storm Uri Stressed Texas Water Plants | WWD Weekly Digest

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Winter Storm Uri passed over Texas dropping snow and reducing temperatures to historic levels in many communities. Utilities saw it coming and prepared their plants. They topped off fuel tanks for their generators and double checked their chemical levels. And then the power went out. And the diesel fuel began to gel. Resiliency plans were stretched and creative solutions were needed to solve problems and restores water.

Clarence Wittwer is the city of Pearland, Texas, Public Works Director. During the height of the storm, his plant lost power and when fuel began to dwindle, his emergency request for more was met with a problem central to his: because there is now power, the fuel station could not resupply. He talks about the challenges Winter Storm Uri presented, how he and his team communicated with the public, how Pearland is recovering and what is next for the city’s plans now that it is armed with new knowledge. But most of all, Wittwer noted how communities came together and neighbors helped neighbors. It was a silver lining in the electrical blackout.

  • Intro: (0:00)
  • Resiliency plan preparation for Winter Storm Uri: (0:37)
  • Weather proofing and winterizing: (2:38)
  • Initial challenges the storm presented to Pearland, Texas: (5:38)
  • The domino effect of lost power on resiliency plans: (9:19)
  • How did you communicate with the public?: (10:40)
  • To drip faucets or not to drip faucets? What’s the message?: (13:36)
  • The plan for recovery and updating current construction designs: (16:30)
  • Interconnect resiliency can help, but can also hinder: (18:08)
  • Creative resources and community solidarity became champions: (20:33)
  • What’s the next step for resiliency in Texas for water utilities?: (22:16)
  • How Texas utilities help each other when they need it most: (25:22)
  • Networking with fellow utility managers pays off in crises: (27:43)
  • Outro: (28:52)

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