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Winter Storm Information

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Winter Storm Information
Posted on 02/19/2021
The City of College Station has established itself in recent years as a leader in water conservation. As residents assess Winter Storm Uri's impact and repair pipes and irrigation systems, we continue to stress the importance of conserving water every day, even after we recover from the storm. Efficient daily water use allows the city to provide high-quality service, respond to emergencies, and responsibly manage a limited critical resource.

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NEWS RELEASE (Tuesday, Feb. 23):
CSU customers won't face massive rate hikes

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We appreciate your patience during this unprecedented event. Thanks to improving conditions, Utility Customer Service has additional staff answering phones today. As more information is gathered and assessed, we’ll have clearer details on the path ahead. Here’s what we do know:

  • Disconnects and Late Fees: CSU has suspended delinquent disconnects and suspending late fees until March 1. Your electric utility never disconnects during freezing weather.

  • Billing: No bills have been sent out that reflect electric usage during this event. The most recent statements reflect usage only through Feb. 11. Bills covering Feb. 12 through the storm may be higher due to individual usage. We will work with those needing assistance on payment flexibility.

  • Costs: The unanticipated costs of supplying electric, water, and wastewater services to our residents increased significantly during the storm. The city will exhaust all available avenues to cover those costs before considering rate increases. Rates are among the many items the city council and city staff will discuss in August as part of the budget process.
Again, thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Thanks to the efforts of our customers and operators, sufficient water pressure is being maintained in our water systems. The Cities of Bryan and College Station have rescinded their call for water conservation and are not under a boil water notice. 

Crews continue to monitor the water system and encourage residents to be mindful of their water use. If you continue to run faucets to protect pipes from freezing, keep it to a small drip. We encourage customers to locate their home’s isolation valve and be ready to turn off water in the event of leaks as pipes thaw out. To limit possible property damage, customers whose pipes have frozen may wish to proactively turn off their water to control leaks.

Customers with questions should call:
· City of Bryan Public Works Call Center: 979.209.5900
· City of College Station Utility Dispatch: 855.528.4278

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City offices and facilities will remain closed to the public on Friday. A significant amount of staff will continue working remotely, and online services remain available. Offices and facilities are expected to reopen Monday.

Solid waste and recycling services will resume their normal schedules on Monday. There will be no special makeup schedule for either service (check or our free College Station Curbside app for your schedule).

If you have more household trash than will fit inside of your container, please place it in bags at the curb on your scheduled bulky collection day at least four feet away from stationary objects, including your containers. Do not place additional waste next to or on top of your container or it will not be collected until cleared of these obstructions.

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Water System Status

We have several wells operational and running, backup generators at critical locations, and tanks are filling due to the reduced demand. That has allowed us to continue to be proactive in managing water demand.

Customers have done a great job in responding to the call for conservation. However, conservation is still critical because as we thaw out, more leaks will happen. College Station’s water comes from a deep aquifer that’s quite warm, and steam could indicate a water leak.

Discolored Water
Discoloration comes from naturally-ocurring minerals such as iron settling out from some of our older pipes or sand from the aquifer itself getting stirred up in the water column due to changes in the flow direction. College Station’s water is still disinfected, and we have not lost pressure, so the water can still be used. Discoloration in water is not a reason for boiling it and does not mean the water is unsafe to drink.

Typically, College Station asks customers to report discolored water to Utility Dispatch, and we send a crew to flush the hydrant nearest the customer’s location. That isn’t currently being done due to the at-or-near freezing temperatures and the need to reduce demand. When conditions change, we’ll re-evaluate the need to flush for discolored water.

Leaks and Frozen/Thawing Pipes
As the weather warms, pipes that were frozen will thaw and may break. If customers were flowing faucets outside to prevent freezing, that can be curtailed to a very slow drip, if absolutely necessary. Check sprinkler systems — especially above-ground backflow preventers — as well as swimming pool equipment for leaks.

Locate and turn off the main water source to your house if the leak is on the house or the sprinkler shutoff if the leak is on the sprinkler system. The home water shutoff is usually located between the house and water meter, sometimes in the same box as the meter or a nearby box. The valve between the street and the meter is the angle stop. It’s only meant to be operated by the water utility. Turn the customer shutoff all the way to the right and call a licensed plumber.

The sprinkler system shutoff will be an isolation valve between the water meter and the sprinkler backflow preventer. Note that older sprinkler systems may not have this isolation valve. Sprinkler system repairs will need to be completed by a Texas licensed irrigator. If your backflow preventer needs to be replaced, that must be done by someone with a Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) license. In many cases, plumbers or irrigators hold that license as well.

You may also report water main leaks to Utility Dispatch at 855-528-4278. Choose option 2 to report a problem.

We appreciate your patience and diligence in finding and fixing leaks. Your efforts make a difference.

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ERCOT has authorized CSU to restore power to all customers. If you remain without power, please report it at 855.528.4278. And please continue to conserve power however you can to help prevent ERCOT from requiring another round of rolling outages.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all make our way through these conditions.

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The City of College Station Water Services department requests that customers cut back on non-essential water use due to high water demand. As the weather has warmed slightly, pipes that were frozen are thawing, and that is likely leading to leaks driving the demand.

If customers were flowing faucets outside to prevent freezing, that can be curtailed to a slow drip if absolutely necessary. Check sprinkler systems, especially above-ground backflow preventers, as well as swimming pool equipment, for leaks.

If a leak is identified, locate and turn off the main water source to the house. It is usually located between the house and water meter, sometimes in the same box as the meter or a nearby box. It may be in the garage or house (the valve between the street and the meter is the angle stop and is only meant to be operated by the water utility). Turn the customer shutoff all the way to the right and call a plumber. Water leaks can also be reported to Utility Dispatch at 855-528-4278. Choose option 2 to report a problem. We appreciate our customers' patience and diligence in finding and fixing leaks. Those efforts make a difference.

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The warming center at Reed Arena will extend hours of operation until noon on Friday, Feb. 19.

If traveling to the center, use extreme caution due to hazardous road conditions. If you need transportation, call Brazos Transit at 979-571-0701.

There are chairs and tables for guests, including individuals wishing to stop by to warm and charge phones, access Wi-Fi, rest, hydrate and/or snack. Guests wishing to stay are encouraged to bring pillows, blankets, food and beverages (no alcohol). The Red Cross has some blankets on hand. Community partners have provided bottled water and snacks.

Parking is available in either lot 102 or 100; enter at the main entrance of Reed Arena (look for the “Reed Arena” sign on the building side facing Kyle Field). Anyone considering relocation should do so before 9 p.m. due to anticipated worsening conditions after dark.

Physical distancing measures remain in effect due to COVID-19. Face coverings are required. A limited number of face coverings are available. No pets are allowed in Reed Arena; make arrangements for your pets to stay safe while you are not at home.

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CSU has been working to maintain power to our customers during this extreme weather. Our Operations Center handles calls not only for Electric but also for Water. With the rolling outages, busted water pipes, and other outage calls, we have a backlog of nearly 10,000 calls we are working through. We will work through and listen to all the calls.

In the meantime, if there are CSU Electric customers that have been without power for four hours or more — and still do not have power — call the CSU Hotline back at 855-528-4278. We have someone handling the new calls to allow us to address problems more quickly and schedule crews.

We will address all calls, and this system will allow us to find your issue more quickly among the other calls.

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ERCOT and CSU are doing everything possible to prevent total outages. We are in a statewide emergency that is even more dire than predicted. We understand and share in your frustrations.

As you already know, rolling outages are occurring, as well as other power outages that crews are trying to fix as quickly as possible. Equitable outages in these circumstances is impossible to achieve. Hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire stations, grocery stores and other critical commercial operations must stay online. If you live or work in proximity to any of these and share their feeders, you benefit, too. Also, some neighborhoods run off of completely different feeders, which is why you may be out but others in your neighborhood are not. If your outage lasts longer than 45 minutes, know your account number and report directly to dispatch at 855.528.4278.

It is essential that customers turn off or unplug everything that’s not absolutely essential. This will make it much easier to bring systems back online because it won’t be pulling such a heavy load. It has been taking longer than expected to bring some rolled outages back online.

For those who say they’ve reported their outage but don’t see it on the map, it’s a manual process. So, those reports have been noted but may take a while to appear on the map. Crews are mostly focused on taking areas offline and getting them back online to meet ERCOT’s mandate.

A reason why the statewide power generation has bottomed out is because Texas gets 25% of its power from wind farms — and those are not generating anything right now. Same with some gas plants. Typically, winter demand is low, but we’re seeing it at peak summertime levels — so, demand is far exceeding supply.

This statewide emergency could span multiple days, please do your part to help the system.

>> Feb. 16 Disaster Declaration for Severe Winter Weather Conditions (PDF)

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