Bolivar Peninsula could be without fresh water service for a month because of Tropical Storm Imelda, officials said Friday.
The storm dropped 40 inches of rain on Winnie this week, completely covering the water-treatment plant that supplies Bolivar Peninsula.
Winnie was still flooded Friday, and it could take weeks to get the plant back in working order, said Jo Ball, the general manager of the Bolivar Special Utility District, which manages water utilities on the peninsula.
The district has enacted water restrictions prohibiting people from doing things such as watering lawns and washing cars, Ball said. As of Friday afternoon, the peninsula’s stored water supply was at about half capacity, Ball said.
The restrictions, and the fact the summer tourism season is over, will help the peninsula maintain its water stores for a few more days, Ball said.
“What we have in our storage tanks is what we have,” Ball said. “If we had a bunch of people coming in, we would have to put signs out at the ferry to get the word out. We are trying to tell the renters that are here that, yeah, they may be getting one more weekend, but we might be out of water.”
It’s the second time in two years damage to the Winnie plant caused a water outage on Bolivar. The same thing happened after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
This time, the utility district might take different measures to try to restore water service sooner.
After Harvey, the district connected its water system to old water wells while the Winnie plant was repaired, Ball said. That required peninsula residents to boil water to safely use it, he said.
After Imelda, Ball hoped that the Lower Neches Valley Authority would be able to negotiate a way to connect its water systems with the Trinity Bay Conservation District. If that happens, Bolivar residents would not need to boil water, he said.
A deal was not in place by Friday, but Ball hoped something would be worked out by as early as Saturday.
“They have to go though the proper channels,” Ball said. “That’s happening right now.”
Electric power was expected to be back sooner. Entergy Texas, which provides electric service to the peninsula and a large part of southeast Texas, estimated that power would be restored on the peninsula by 8 p.m. Saturday.
GISD PLANS WATER DRIVE
With no news about when water service would be returned to the peninsula, there are some efforts to get extra supplies to the area for the coming days.
The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management delivered shipments of bottled water to cooling stations that had been set up at local fire stations.
On Saturday, Ball High School students will collect donations of bottled water to be sent to the peninsula. The drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the high school, 4115 Ave. O.
The Galveston Independent School District has not yet decided how it will handle students from its two schools on Bolivar Peninsula when classes resume on Monday, district spokeswoman Dyann Polzin said.
After Harvey, students from the peninsula were bused to school in Galveston until water service was fully restored, she said. The district hasn’t decided whether it will take those measures again because of Imelda.
“We will talk out all the possibilities,” Polzin said.