AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Austin officials announced a citywide boil water notice Saturday night, Austin Water representatives estimate the notice will be in effect for “a few days.” The Ullrich Water Treatment Plant was taken offline due to an “internal treatment process issue” that led to high turbidity, or cloudiness, in water.
What needs to happen first to lift the notice?
- Ullrich Water Treatment Plant comes back online — officials acknowledged in a tweet Sunday morning the plant is back online
- Ullrich is operating under normal plant treatment levels — officials said the plant’s production levels resumed as normal Sunday. All three water treatment plants are fully operational and producing normal volumes of water as of Monday; water conservation restrictions are lifted.
- Austin Water begins water sampling at the treatment plant — officials said they began this step Monday evening. AW got approval from the state to begin the water sampling process at 5:45 p.m.
- Water sampling results reveal “no water quality issues”
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) authorizes Austin Water to lift boil notice
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Sunday it has reached step three of the process — testing water quality at the treatment plant. This third step takes time, Meszaros said. Testing was originally estimated to start Sunday night and run into Monday.
But on Monday evening, the city said Austin Water had officially deployed staff across the community to begin collecting water samples from about 45 sites, both residential and commercial. Samples will be tested over a 24-hour time period, and those results will be shared with TCEQ, the entity that determines if and when the boil water notice can be lifted.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that, if the water samples pass regulatory requirements and the TCEQ approves our results, we will be able to lift the water boil notice late Tuesday evening,” said AW Director Greg Meszaros in a statement on Monday night.
What led up to boil water notice
A review by Austin Water is painting a clearer picture for what went wrong leading up to the boil water notice.
The Austin Water director said operating staff at the Ullrich Water Plant made a mistake in the water treatment process, which prompted leaders to send out the notice Saturday night.
Meszaros said all operators are licensed and Austin Water is reviewing the potential repercussions for the mistake.
“I know this is incredibly frustrating and tiring for our community. This is not the standard we set for our utility,” Meszaros said.
Where to get bottled water
Five water distribution sites are available for service on Sunday, with the two hosted by Austin Water open 24 hours. Residents visiting the Austin Water locations will need to bring their own containers for the water, officials said.
- Travis County Expo Center: 7311 Decker Lane, Austin
- Austin Water Glen Bell Service Center: 3907 South Industrial Drive, Austin
- Austin Water North Service Center: 901 W Koenig Lane, Austin
- Kelly Reeves Athletic Stadium: 10211 West Parmer Lane, Austin
- Southeast Metropolitan Park: 4511 Hwy. 71, Del Valle, Austin
The distribution sites at the Expo Center and Kelly Reeves don’t require visitors bring their own containers, but they do have limited hours. The Expo Center will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and the stadium will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Del Valle location will be open until 8 p.m. Sunday and reopen at noon on Monday.
When is it safe to not use boiled water?
During a boil water notice, residents are asked to boil all water used for consumption, such as drinking, eating or brushing your teeth. The boil water notice also extends to consumption uses for any pets.
Under a boil notice, residents are asked to bring the water to a “rolling boil” for a minimum of two minutes before letting it cool; after which, it’s safe to consume. Tap water can be used to wash hands and bathe in, but residents are cautioned to avoid getting any in their mouths.
The CDC said it is generally safe to use laundry machines and wash clothes as normal. When it comes to your dishwasher, that too is generally safe as long as your final rinse temperatures reaches at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit, per the CDC.
Austin Water has outlined a full FAQ on its website for any additional questions related to the notice.