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Texas energy crisis: Here's why officials need Texans to limit water, natural gas use as well as power

Winter storms have knocked dozens of Texas power plants offline, and the ripple effects are wreaking havoc on essential services for many Texans.

DALLAS — Officials are asking Texans who still have access to water and natural gas to limit their usage of those resources to only essential needs as the state delves further into an energy crisis. 

That's in addition to the request to curtail power usage, for those residents who have not been cut off from the grid.

Widespread power outages across the state have placed these utilities under greater demand and stress, officials say, leading to outages of their own as well as runs on these other supplies. 

Demand for water and natural gas is at an all-time high, officials say. 

Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, said while much of the natural gas available has gone towards Texans' homes, the state's power plants need this fuel as well but aren't getting what they need.

Natural gas providers haven't been able to manufacture, ship or transport their product either, according to Gov. Greg Abbott. He said people from these companies are telling his team, "It's just frozen right now. It's frozen in the pipeline. It's frozen at the rig. It's frozen at the transmission line."

Atmos Energy sent out a message Tuesday asking all of its customers and businesses to conserve as much energy as possible.

The natural-gas-only company is one of the nation's largest distributors. The Dallas-based company serves about 3 million customers in more than 1,400 communities in nine states.

RELATED: As demand for natural gas reaches 'unprecedented levels,' Atmos Energy asks customers to conserve energy

Credit: WFAA
Atmos Energy sent text messages to customers Feb. 15 and 16 asking them to conserve natural gas.

Water shortages, boil orders also occurring

At the same time, officials in local communities across North Texas are urging residents to only use water as needed and to conserve as much as possible. As power outages continue to plague water facilities and pumping stations, there is concern of the possibility of complete water outages.

Many cities across North Texas have already issued boil orders as treatment plants and stations face power problems, leading to Fort Worth officials asking for water donations from the public and for supplies from other agencies. 

The issues facing water utilities are complex. Some, like Arlington, are seeing nearly twice the normal demand they would expect during this time period. Others, like Wylie, are dealing with power outage-related problems affecting their systems. 

Texans should try to only use water supplies for drinking, sanitation needs and dripping their faucets to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. They should avoid doing laundry or doing dishes

A number of cities in North Texas are asking for residents to reduce water usage including McKinney, Plano, North Richland Hills and Stephenville as well.

Nearly all of Harris County and Houston were facing low or no water pressure Wednesday morning as well, also due to the power outages, KHOU reports.

RELATED: For a list of North Texas cities under a boil water order click here

And in some North Texas cities, residents are currently dealing with the double-whammy of no power and boil water orders, making any water that makes it through their pipes virtually unusable if they rely on electricity to power their ovens, stoves or microwaves.


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