Austin water treatment plants stable, ‘significant challenges’ remain to restoring water to some

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Water said Wednesday morning its treatment plants are stable but it is facing “significant challenges” in restoring water to customers and areas without it.

“Austin Water is working with the City’s Emergency Operations Center to address the needs of critical customers, including hospitals and power plants. We do not have a timeline on when full service will be restored at this time,” it tweeted at 9:38 a.m. “We know that some customers do not have water service and returning your service is our priority,” it continued in another Tweet.

It says people can report a water emergency, including a leak or main break, using its Leak Report Form.

Earlier Thursday, Mayor Steve Adler said the west Austin water treatment plant, which lost power Wednesday forcing the citywide boil water advisory, was back online and has power.

“The plant is back online,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “and yes, we just need people to conserve at this point so we can just build up the reserves and the pressure, and then the water boil will come off, but we need people to conserve.”

Adler joined KXAN live Thursday morning. He said the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant lost power but called the outage temporary.

“We had a water treatment plant that went down temporarily yesterday because of the power issues. That impacted [the city’s water supply] along with just incredible demand on water the last 36 hours,” Adler said.

Adler said it’s unclear right now how the water treatment plant being back online will impact the citywide boil water notice.

He said Austin Water crews must first look at how much water usage drops due to the repeated calls for residents to conserve. He said that will help crews determine how much of the increased usage was due to bursting pipes.

He says that’s why it’s important for people to continue to boil their water and to limit their water use as much as possible.

“We need people to conserve. Don’t use a drop of water that you don’t need to use,” Adler said.

He also addressed the changing guidance on whether or not to drip faucets, which can help prevent burst pipes when the temperatures are below freezing.

“We’re at one of those places where there are no great answers,” Adler said. “It’s just the best answer at any point in time. What we’re being told right now is that the temperatures have risen sufficiently that the risks associated with not dripping is not as great as the risks associated with actually dripping it impacting the consumption levels of water in the city. So if you want to wrap your pipes, open up the cupboards under the sink so the warmer air can get to the pipes.”

KXAN meteorologists report the area may get just above freezing for part of the day, but will be back below freezing overnight. See the latest forecast here.

Austin has been struggling to keep up with demand and keep pressure in its system, especially following burst pipes across the city. The loss in water pressure led to some areas of Austin, including the southwest portion of the city, to lose water Wednesday.

Adler anticipates Austin Water will have another update Thursday morning on the boil water notice.

State law requires testing of the water before any boil water notice is lifted. That means it’s unlikely the citywide boil water notice ends before Friday.

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