AUSTIN (KXAN) — A boil water notice has been issued for Austin Water users Saturday night. Additionally, emergency water restrictions have been issued, meaning residents are asked to conserve water.
A release from Austin Water says the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant is out of service due to an “internal treatment process issue that resulted in high turbidity within the plant.”
“It appears this will be over in a couple of days,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in the release.
Austin Water says it is increasing water production at two other water treatment plants, Davis and Handcox, and managing the water pipelines to keep water service coming to customers. There have been no power disruptions at drinking water plants, as of the last time of this report.
“We have no indication that there was a contamination,” Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Saturday night.
Meszaros said the boil water notice is not connected to the winter storm that swept through Central Texas Thursday, calling the timing “coincidental.”
This is Austin Water’s first boil water notice since the February 2021 winter storm. Austin Water issued a boil water notice that lasted nearly a week on Feb. 17, 2021 when the city’s largest water treatment plant temporarily lost electricity during winter storm power outages.
Timeline for lifting the boil water notice
Austin Water officials released a checklist Sunday with a step-by-step process for how the utility ends the boil water 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
- Austin Water begins water sampling at the treatment plant
- Water sampling results reveal “no water quality issues”
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality authorizes Austin Water to lift boil notice
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Sunday that it has reached step three of the process — testing water quality at the treatment plant.
This third step takes time, Meszaros said. Testing is estimated to start Sunday night and run into Monday.
Meszaros said the findings will be submitted to TCEQ. The end of the boil water notice may come Tuesday night, pending test results.
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.
What to do during a boil water notice
During a boil water notice, you should use bottled water or boil tap water for drinking and to prepare and cook food. When boiling water, let the water bubble vigorously for two minutes before letting it cool for use. Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice or water from a refrigerator, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In many cases, you can use tap water to wash your hands. When it comes to bathing or showering be careful not to swallow any water. Only use boiled water to brush your teeth, the CDC says.
The CDC says 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, the CDC says.
Who is affected by the boil water notice
The release says all Austin Water customers and retail customers of Austin Water Wholesale Districts and Utilities should follow the notice.
Here’s a list of the retail customers affected according to Austin Water:
- Night Hawk
- Travis County WCID 10
- Creedmoor-Maha WSC
- San Leanna
- Marsha WSC
- Wells Branch MUD
- Northtown MUD
- Sunset Valley
- High Valley
- Mid-Tex Utilities
- North Austin MUD 1
Emergency water use restrictions were issued by Austin Water Saturday at 7:30 p.m., meaning all customers should limit indoor water usage and stop outdoor water usage. The restrictions were lifted on Monday evening.
City of Austin water stations
Austin Water is setting up water distribution sites Saturday night for anyone who needs it at the following locations:
- Glen Bell Service Center: 3907 South Industrial Dr.
- North Service Center: 901 W Koenig Ln.
Potable water will also be available at those sites. Austin Water’s director said they will add more locations for water pickup Sunday.