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JWSC Winter Readiness

Jonestown Water Supply Corporation

Winter Readiness

The Freeze of February, 2021.

As many of us remember, the record freeze of February 2021 coupled with the unprecedented failure of the Texas power grid, rained havoc all across Texas.  The first sign that something was amiss occurred in the form of a wide spread power failure in the early morning of Saturday, February 12th.   The magnitude of the failure was evident as it lasted until the afternoon hours of the following day, and further punctuated when, for the first time in Texas history, statewide “rolling blackouts” started a few hours later.  Homes without heat across the state had pipes freeze and burst, and electrical power outages in the water supply infrastructures statewide caused frozen pumps, valves and supply mains, leaving many without electrical power or potable water.

Jonestown Water Supply Corporation (JWSC) was among those hardest hit, and even though we were assured that our facilities were included on the list of essential services that would be spared the rolling blackouts.  In spite of these efforts, our facilities were included in the rolling blackouts, and the resulting short intervals of power were insufficient to produce treated water at sufficient quantities to supply demand

Preventive Measures going Forward

In addition to massive changes to the management structure of ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), the 87th Texas Legislature passed The Power Grid Stability Bill (SB 3). Some of the provisions of the Bill require renewable electrical generating companies to have some type of power back-up plan and to have all providers to winterize their equipment or face a fine of up to $1 million a day.

Another provision of the Bill requires affected utilities to be in compliance by submitting the locations and electrical supply information of equipment requiring uninterrupted power.  JWSC is in full compliance with all provisions of Senate Bill 3.

Additional preventive measures include

Freeze Protection. We now have 3000 watt generators and diesel powered heaters for our raw water intake on Lake Travis, our treatment plants on Easy Street, and other facilities as needed.  These additions will ensure the effectiveness of JWSC’s yearly winterization efforts.

Hardened Key Infrastructure Locations.  The 2021 freeze did tell us where we were the most vulnerable and all these locations have been addressed.

Antifreeze Equipment Included in Inventory.   Our staff has prepared a list of things that would have been nice to have during the 2021 freeze, and these items are now part of our inventory.  They include Tarps & Tents to retain heat over critical equipment and snow chains for our trucks, just to mention a few.      

Uninterrupted Electric Power.  As mentioned earlier, key provisions of Senate Bill 3 provide for reliable and uninterrupted electrical power to essential service providers.  We have confirmed our status as an essential service provider with PEC so that we will not be included in any rolling blackouts should they occur.

Improved Membership Communication.  One thing that became evident during the 2021 freeze was that we did not have a good way to communicate with our members.  To remedy this, we have replaced our old web site with a completely new web site that will allow us to post messages in real time so our members will have up to date information.  www.Jonestownwsc.org

New Mobile Alert System.  Members can now sign up for text alerts on their mobile devices. Everything from drought stages to boil water notices will be relayed instantly to your smart phone.  Just go to our website, www.Jonestownwsc.org and look for the red “Sign Up For Alerts” banner on our home page.

Your Suggestions.  Do you have an idea or comment that you feel would be helpful?  This is a member-owned corporation and you have a vote in everything we do.  Your ideas and comments are welcomed, just drop us a line at bruce_covill@jonestownwsc.org