AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the past few years, Austin has seen quite a few boil water notices which led to major changes in Austin Water.

Last year, an Austin boil water notice lasted three days, resulting from an employee operator error.

After the boil water notice, Councilmember Alison Alter authored a resolution calling for an external review of Austin Water.

“We have to make sure there is ongoing accountability for the work that is underway so that we can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Alter.

In January, results from an external audit of Austin Water were released, detailing 53 recommendations the company could improve on.

Austin Water leadership will present their response to the audit and their implementation plan for the recommendations Wednesday afternoon.

According to the slideshow which was presented in the meeting, some recommendations have been implemented:

  • Austin Water is currently posting openings of multiple levels to allow hiring above entry level.
  • Austin Water now provides station checks throughout the distribution system on a routine basis to monitor storage levels.
  • AW provides seasonal communications and outreach about protecting pipes during freezing weather. The My ATX Water customer portal also sends custom notifications if water use suddenly increases indicating water loss at a home or business.

There are also recommendations that are underway, but have not been completed, some of those include:

  • Continuing to recruit and retain a skilled workforce and prioritizing vacant positions.
  • Identifying possible future scenarios that could present water quality and treatment challenges and implement solutions.

Skeeter Miller prides himself on good food and good service, but that can be hard when you have a boil water notice. He says over the years he’s had to boil water a few times.

“When you have to boil water you can no longer use your soft drink system, you have to buy bottle water you can’t use the ice in your ice machine,” said Miller.

The last major boil water notice, which was in 2022 lasted three days and cost Skeeter quite a bit of money. He was happy to hear there are steps being taken to improve Austin Water procedures and service.

“I am glad to see there are some steps because if they keep doing the same thing and expect a different result it is just not going to happen and so we definitely need to take a look at it,” said Miller.

“The real issue here is how do we rebuild trust in our water utility,” said Austin Councilmember Alison Alter.

Recruiting and retention strategies are also a priority as staffing issues have been a concern in the past.

Overall Austin water says they have implemented 14 recommendations, 23 recommendations are underway but not yet completed and 12 are still in the planning stage.