AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Water issued a citywide boil water notice Wednesday night, after its largest treatment plant lost power.
Austin Water said the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant, the utility’s largest water treatment facility, experienced drops in water pressure. Staff is working with Austin Energy to assess the system and restore power to the plant.
Earlier on Wednesday, Austin Water mandated residents to conserve water after broken pipes, water main breaks and high demand has spiked water use to more than 250% of typical usage in the past 24 hours. The loss in water pressure led to some areas of Austin, including the southwest portion of the city, to lose water Wednesday.
Residents like Brooke Anderson, in southwest Austin, had to fill her bathtub and several jugs after losing water and power.
“I honestly am prepared to go into the weekend without water,” said Anderson. “I felt that way about the electricity. I just have to have in my mind that I’m not going to have this [water] for a while.”
Not too far away, Devika Ray started collecting snow in several bins, but with no power, the snow wouldn’t melt. Ray had to get creative.
“The snow is melting on the roof and the water is dripping and we put the bins in there and this is filling much faster. I would say in about 20 minutes we get a bin of water,” Ray explained.
Water pressure and storage significantly dropped throughout Wednesday in the utility’s service area, officials said in a press release. They are also asking residents not to drip faucets. Officials say even dripping a small amount of water out of three or four faucets in a home can be a gallon a minute and over the course of 24 hours, that could equal nearly 1400 gallons. Even state leaders say they are seeing “near peak summer demand” water usage, due to dripping pipes.
“We are requesting that customers no longer drip faucets to do freeze protection, we’re really in a decision-making mode of trying to restore water to hospitals and fire protection and other essential services,” said Greg Meszaros, Austin Water’s director, during a press conference Wednesday.
The utility says in order to avoid additional impacts to water service, like widespread lack of service, residents need to do the following:
- Limit water use to essential need
- While temperatures are above freezing, don’t drip faucets
- Delay the use of appliances like washing machines and dishwashers
- Report water main breaks to Austin Water at (512) 972-1000
- If pipes at your home or business have burst, turn off your water at the cutoff valve. If you don’t know where it is, call Austin Water and have them assist you