Winter Storm 2021

New fund pipes in emergency plumbing assistance to San Antonio residents

Fund pipes in emergency plumbing assistance to San Antonio residents

now in Houston January 2014 ice on pipe
SAWS is offering financial relief for busted pipes. Photo by Nokyunganaja/Statigram

As water continues to be restored to San Antonians and a days-long boil-water notice is lifted for much of the community, the local water authority if offering to help resuscitate residents’ freeze-damaged pipes.

The San Antonio Water System has launched a new program called Community Pipe Repair, or CPR, which aims to assist residential customers with making emergency repairs to damaged pipes in their homes so they can regain access to reliable running water — even if they can’t afford a plumber.

“The winter storm has passed, but the recovery is in its early stages,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday in a release announcing the fund. “Many of our friends and neighbors have immediate needs that they can’t afford to address, yet they can’t afford not to address them.”

As the program just launched, SAWS notes specific eligibility requirements will be available later this week on its website, and after residents complete an online CPR application, SAWS will be in contact within days to notify residents about their application status.

The CPR program is open to homeowners as well as renters. For homeowners who qualify, SAWS will send a plumber to the home — free of charge to homeowners — “to make repairs and restore water flow to key features: toilets, faucets, bathtubs, and showers.” Eligible renters who apply must also have agreement from the property owner to proceed in the program.

The program will prioritize emergency pipe repair that risks causing harm to the life, health, or safety of a building’s occupants. The CPR fund will be hosted by the San Antonio Foundation, and SAWS says the program will continue until all funds are exhausted. 
Though Nirenberg admits more funds will need to be raised for the program, it’s off to a good start, with early funding coming from a couple of well-known organizations. 

“I am pleased to announce that we have launched the fund with generous contributions from Spurs Give and Wells Fargo,” Nirenberg said. “The Spurs have committed $250,000 to the fund and Wells Fargo has agreed to contribute $25,000, enabling us to launch with $275,000 in the CPR fund.”

The creation of the CPR fund comes in the wake of last week’s record-breaking winter storm and widespread utility failures, which propelled SAWS to issue a citywide boil-water notice February 17. The water authority announced Monday that the notice had been lifted for most areas in San Antonio and that residents can resume using their tap water without boiling it.

The notice was lifted in most San Antonio communities after SAWS completed required water-quality sampling and its scientists and experts from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deemed the area’s tap water safe to drink. While parts of San Antonio remain under the boil-water notice — most significantly the northeast region of Bexar County — SAWS is continuing to test water samples in hopes of releasing those affected areas from the boil-water notice soon.

With the lifting of the boil-water notice, SAWS is asking San Antonians to turn off their irrigation systems as water pressure continues to normalize throughout the city. Additionally, SAWS is encouraging residents follow CDC guidelines to ensure their water is safe to drink. Those recommendations include:

  • flushing the pipes by running each hot and cold water faucet for two minutes
  • flushing, cleaning, and sanitizing appliances that use tap water (ice machines, dishwashers, etc.) per manufacturers’ instructions
  • running water softeners through a regeneration cycle
  • flushing ice machines per manufacturers’ instructions, including throwing out any ice that remains in bins and discarding an additional batch of ice
  • replacing filters in refrigerators and other appliances that use water
  • flushing drinking fountains by running them continuously for two minutes