Communication Failure Results in Boil Water Notice
On May 31, 2019, the City of Murphy issued a Boil Water Notice (BWN) for portions of Murphy. The notice stated, “Due to a failure within the communication network of the water distribution system, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the City of Murphy/0430042 public water system to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption including washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, and other uses. Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.”
Tim Rogers, City of Murphy Public Services Director explained what factored into the ‘failure within the communication network of the water distribution system’, “Due to the storm that occurred two days prior to the event, the electronic communications system for the water utility failed. There are alarms that are programmed to call our staff when communication failures of this nature occur. The call out did not function as designed, resulting in a loss of water pressure that led to the issuance of the notice.”
Rogers informed that there was no contamination in the distribution system. “The BWN was issued by staff when system pressure dropped below 20 psi. This is a requirement of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.” Since there was no contamination, once the BWN was rescinded, residents did not need to take additional actions such as flushing water pipes, removing water from ice makers, etc. Rogers said, “Staff will always make a good faith effort to communicate to the residents if any additional precautions are required.” There were not any reports of residents becoming sick from consuming water during this BWN. Rogers emphasized this was because there was no contamination within the system. He is not aware of a BWN ever happening in Murphy before this event.
The BWN was active approximately 23 hours, from 1 p.m., May 31 – 12 a.m., Jun. 1. The City of Murphy press release from May 31, stated, “The area affected by this Boil Water Notice are north of FM544, west of N. Murphy Road and north of Betsy Lane.” This affected 1,954 homes and 32 businesses. It did not affect the rest of Murphy because the identified location was the only area that dropped below 20 psi within the system.
While residents were under the BWN, Rogers explained what was being done to remedy the situation, “First, staff worked to restore system pressure above the required 20 psi. This was accomplished by turning on additional pumps. Staff flushed distribution lines within the system and checked for chlorine residuals in those areas where system pressure fell below 20 psi.”
Residents were notified of the BWN via staff issued press releases, notifications on the city website, posts on all social media sites, implementation of telephonic and email notice through the city’s RAVE alert system. Staff also called food establishments to alert them of the situation. Rogers informed that these efforts were not 100% effective, “Staff will always make a good faith effort to reach out to all of the City of Murphy customers. We have found that some residents did not receive the notice. Residents are encouraged to sign up for notifications using the city’s RAVE alert network.” Murphy residents can sign up for RAVE at http://www.murphytx.org/166/RAVE-Smart-911.
Rogers said that in order to prevent a BWN from happening again, “A procedure has been established to provide multiple alarms to alert staff of water pressure issues.”