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McLennan County, City of Waco issue water conservation order ceasing operation of car wash, laundry establishments

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Posted at 2:41 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 18:08:45-05

WACO, TX — UPDATE:

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said the February 19, 2021, Supplemental Order Under Disaster Declaration is hereby lifted at 6:00 p.m. today, February 21, 2021 and is of no further effect after such time.

ORIGINAL STORY:

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton and the City of Waco have issued orders to conserve water which includes ceasing operation for car wash and laundry establishments until noon Monday if they are water customers of the City of Waco.

The supplemental order says continued high water usage makes normalizing the systems very difficult, and creates the potential for new emergencies.

"Even where the infrastructure issues have been fixed, the storage of water inventory has been significantly depleted. This creates the threat that water for fire suppression will not be available in sufficient amounts, and also creates the very real threat of water shortages and pressure issues."

Therefore, Judge Felton has ordered the followings steps "to protect public health and safety."

  • Beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2021, and continuing until 12:00 p.m. on Monday, February 22, 2021, all cleaning/dyeing and laundry plants, commercial laundry (self-serve commercial), and automobile car washing establishments in McLennan County are required to cease all operations and activities at facilities located within McLennan County.
  • Food service providers are encouraged to utilize disposable paper goods in lieu of dinner and silverware that require washing.
  • All other citizens of the County are encouraged to reduce water consumption, but to not hoard water. Each person is encouraged to keep water use to not more than one gallon per person per day, and not more than one gallon per day for cooking for the household.
  • A water service provider which is not experiencing the problems stated above, and is not a water customer of the City of Waco, directly or indirectly, or is a customer of Waco that is not taking water from Waco and does not intend to take water from Waco for 7 calendar days, may opt out of these restrictions by providing a notice to the County Judge in writing.
  • Except as provided by above, all persons in McLennan County, incorporated and unincorporated areas, are required to comply with this Order.
  • Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health.
  • A violation of this order shall be a Class C misdemeanor and the penalty for violating this order shall be a fine of not less than one dollar ($1.00) and no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), and each day a violation exists shall be a separate offense. That this Order and the Declaration it supplements also hereby authorizes the use of any other lawfully available enforcement tools.

View the order below:

The Mayor and City Manager of the City of Waco also took similar steps to ensure protection of the water system as we recover from the winter storm of the past week.

These steps are necessary because our water supply remains critically low, the city said.

While rising temperatures are welcomed for residents and businesses, rising temperatures will thaw water pipes and reveal new leaks which must be valved off and repaired.

"From a water system standpoint, these new leaks will drain the water system further," the City of Waco said.

"While we do not expect shutting off the water throughout the entire city, a community-wide boil water notice is imminent if demand doesn’t change. This demand is being caused by leaks around the city and high usage. The City of Waco is pumping twice our normal daily usage and the system’s storage is sitting at a critically low capacity."

If the system conditions worsen, some areas may not have water at all, depending on water system pressures and elevation.

If system conditions worsen further, the fire department could not have adequate water for firefighting, the City of Waco said.

"Our staff continues to develop alternative methods of fire protection, but water is the critical resource to protect property in the event of a fire."

Mayor Meek has signed an emergency declaration which takes the following actions regarding the water system:

  1. All cleaning/dyeing and laundry plants, commercial laundry (self-serve commercial), and automobile car washing establishments in the City are required to cease all operations and activities until noon on Monday, February 22, 2021.
  2. All other commercial and residential customers are urged to reduce water consumption and to not hoard water. Each person is urged to keep water use to not more than one gallon per person per day, and not more than one gallon per day for cooking for the household.

City Manager Bradley Ford, acting under his authority within the City’s Water Conservation Plan, has issued an order requiring the City’s top industrial water users to submit and obtain approval of a water consumption plan prior to conducting any business.

City of Waco Water Utility staff will contact these users immediately.

These water consumption plans will be submitted to the City’s Water Utility Services Department for prompt evaluation and response.

Approvals will be granted by City Manager Ford. City Manager Ford has also directed each of the cities who purchase water from the City of Waco to require water consumption plans for their top industrial users.

In recognition of the impacts to local residents and businesses from this storm, Mayor Meek’s emergency declaration waives certain permit and inspection fees for the repair of damages caused by the winter storm. Permits and inspections are still required.

The emergency declaration also permits Waco residents to place additional bagged trash at the curb.

Additionally, the declaration suspends the requirement for tree limbs to be cut and stacked into 4’x4’x4’ piles, which allows for tree limbs to be cut and placed at the curb for future pick-up.

"The past week has been difficult for all residents of Waco. Mayor Meek, members of the City Council and City Manager Ford are grateful for the diligent effort our citizens and businesses have made to inspect their buildings, valve off leaks, and to report leaks around the City and encourage them to continue these great efforts over the coming days," the City of Waco said in a statement. "We are nearing the end of this crisis and ask our residents and businesses to assist us over the coming days to reach full recovery."