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SAWS Lifts Boil Water Notice For All San Antonio Areas

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente speaks in this undated TPR file photo.

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Updated on Tuesday, Feb. 23

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, all SAWS customers can use their tap water without boiling it.

Area sampling by SAWS and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reveals test results that draw the boil notice to a close.

SAWS still recommends that pipes, ice makers and water fountains be flushed before using water for drinking or cooking.

More detailed information can be found at saws.org.

Previous reporting

The San Antonio Water System issued a voluntary boil water noticefor customers on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Water used for drinking, cooking and ice-making should be boiled beforehand. The notice is voluntary because not everyone may be affected by it.

The notice comes as residents across San Antonio experience frozen pipes, lack of water pressure, and overall service outages. SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente made the sudden announcement of the notice during a special city council meeting called to address the ongoing weather, energy and water crisis in San Antonio and Texas.

Major cities across the state have issued similar boil water notices. However, this notice was issued as a precaution as pressure was affected along the SAWS system, Puente said.

“When the pressure goes down like that, (the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) mandates that there be a boil water notice,” Puente said. “I will tell you and all of our community that this is a precautionary notice. Usually it’s because of a line break and your system is exposed to contaminants and that’s why you have a boil water notice.”

That lack of water pressure and pipe breaks in some homes and businesses pushed the utility to issue the notice as a safety measure.

“We, SAWS, have not had breaks. These are the loss of water by a lot of homes and businesses,” said Puente.


  • To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.
  • In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.
  • When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, SAWS will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.
  • Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, SAWS will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

The notice applies only to water that will be consumed. Water that’s used for bathing, cleaning or other means does not need to be boiled. The notice will be in effect for several days.

“The 100-plus hours of below-freezing temperatures have caused issues maintaining water pressure above 20 PSI in portions of the distribution system. At this time please take precautions to boil your water until you are notified from SAWS that you no longer need to do so,” a SAWS news release said.

SAWS officials held a press conference after the council meeting to provide further details. Jelynne Burley, SAWS Board Chair, said the notice was voluntary because not everyone may be affected by it.

“If your pressure has not changed during this event then you are probably safe,” Burley said. “But if you have had a difference in the pressure in the water system of your home or business I would follow the recommendations in our safe water notice related to drinking and cooking.”

Boiling water is meant to reduce any risk of contaminants, SAWS Chief Operating Officer Steve Clouse said, for people who have had their pressure compromised.

“We can’t absolutely guarantee that those people in the low pressure areas are absolutely disinfected in the water,” he said. “They probably are but we can’t guarantee it.

SAWS officials stressed that if you have a leak in your home to turn off your water at the meter.

“If everybody just lets water free flow through their garage or out of their wall and down into the yard for days on end it’s going to be hard and harder for us to recover and get adequate pressure into the system,” Clouse said.

SAWS officials showed a map detailing areas far north northwest, and southern Bexar County that had low pressure or no service. The shaded red areas indicate where SAWS is not pushing water due to that lack of pressure. But they noted they could not provide a number of people affected system-wide as some outages were due to pipe bursts in people’s homes. Other areas could also be experiencing a lack of water as well.

There is no timeline of when service will be returned to affected homes and businesses.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules