When something goes wrong with a public water supply, utility officials often issue an advisory warning residents to boil water before using it for drinking, cooking, or bathing. Such measures are generally temporary—a brief period of caution while crews repair the source of the problem. However, residents of Corpus Christi, Texas have been living under a boil advisory for nearly two weeks, and it’s the city’s third in 10 months. Nobody knows for sure when locals will have access to safe drinking water again.
The current boil advisory was issued May 13, after utility officials reported low levels of chlorine disinfectant in the water supply. Chlorine is being used to kill harmful bacteria, which itself was at the heart of a previous boil alert in July 2015. Prior to that time, the city was using a different method for disinfecting the water, and it wasn’t working. Potentially hazardous levels of E. coli had been detected, and utility managers were unable to combat the bacteria without switching to a chlorine-based disinfectant. Ironically, the disinfectant in the water is now posing a threat to local residents.
Local news reports say the chlorine was expected to disperse through the water supply quickly after a treatment on May 19, but it’s taking longer than officials thought it should. A final treatment was performed at 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 24 and needs at least 18 hours before water tests can confirm safe disinfectant levels. The boil alert could be lifted sometime today, Wednesday, but the debacle has left residents frustrated and upset, feeling as though city leaders have let them down.
Corpus Christi city manager Ron Olson resigned his position just days after the current boil alert was issued amid claims he mishandled the situation. Some residents are calling for the city’s mayor, Nelda Martinez, to step down as well.
Via Huffington Post