Austin Water prepares treatment plants should another extreme winter storm occur


AUSTIN (KXAN) — In addition to completing repairs due to damage done by the February winter storm, Austin Water is preparing its three water treatment plants for winter weather.

The water utility says it followed recommendations from a recent report released by Austin-Travis County officials outlining what could be improved should another extreme winter event occur.

Some of the winter storm damages at the plants included broken pipes, valves, basins and impacts to chemical feed systems. Repairs on those are finished, Austin Water says.

Winter weather supplies, including heaters, sand and deicing fluid, among other things, are also stocked at all water treatment plants to help with driving on icy roads.

Safety supplies are also at the ready, including boot spikes and tire chains. Austin Water says should staff have to stay at the plants for a prolonged time during an extreme winter event, cots, ready-to-eat meals and other supplies are available for them.

Operators have modified their winter maintenance schedule, so the plants are able to increase water production quickly if there’s a sudden uptick in customer demand, due to dripping faucets or leaks caused by burst pipes, both of which happened during the February winter storm.

Austin Water also says a new electrical substation at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant is under construction to “improve power resiliency,” and power distribution upgrades are nearly done at Davis Water Treatment Plant.

The water utility is also increasing lime residuals or “sludge” storage and disposal capabilities at all three plants, because hauling sludge from the plants in icy conditions is difficult.

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