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Climate Adaptation

Texans’ Frozen Pipes Are Warnings of Yet Another Climate Threat

Power outages are just the start. Aging policies and infrastructure are making drinking water vulnerable to extreme weather.

A plumber repairs a burst pipe in a home in Houston on Feb. 21.

A plumber repairs a burst pipe in a home in Houston on Feb. 21.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At first, Amanda Fuller thought she was one of the lucky ones. Then the water stopped running.

As Texas started dipping into single-digit temperatures overnight Sunday, power companies began instituting blackouts across the state, but Fuller's home just outside Austin stayed warm and bright. On Monday, though, as she was fixing a mid-morning a snack for her two children, ages one and six, the water from the tap suddenly “went to a trickle within a few seconds and was gone,” she said. It turned out the freeze had caused several water mains to break and disrupted power to the city’s primary water treatment plant.