water down

Austin remains under citywide boil water notice through Tuesday, authorities say

Austin remains under citywide boil water notice through Tuesday

boiling water
Austin residents should boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking or cooking with it. Photo by Capelle.r/Getty Images

KVUE — On Saturday night, February 5, Austin Water issued a citywide boil water notice for all customers following “an internal treatment process issue” at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant, the utility provider’s largest water processing plant.

Customers are asked to boil tap water vigorously for at least two minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. That includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, washing raw foods, preparation of drinks, and water for pets.

Several water distribution sites are open for those who need them while the boil water notice is in effect.

In a statement on Saturday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the issue “will be over in a couple of days” and urged Austinites to conserve water during that time.

In Sunday’s press conference, Austin Water director Greg Meszaros said there are five steps to get through in order to rescind the notice:

  • Get Ullrich Water Treatment Plant back online.
  • Ullrich is operating at normal production levels.
  • Water sampling begins.
  • Water sampling results show no water quality issues.
  • TCEQ authorizes lifting the boil water notice.

As of Sunday evening, February 6, Austin Water had completed the first two steps of the five, Meszaros said. During steps three through five, Austin Water will gather samples and submit them to the TCEQ so the agency can authorize rescinding the boil water notice. Meszaros said the target date to receive authorization from the TCEQ to rescind the boil water notice was by the end of day on Tuesday, February 8.

Watch Sunday’s full press conference here

Meszaros said the issue arose when the Ullrich plant experienced a “treatment process upset” that resulted in a spike in the water’s turbidity. Water turbidity is a measure of the water’s clarity, with higher turbidity meaning that the water appears murkier.

The incident did not have to do with the recent winter storm that moved through the area earlier this week, and Meszaros said the timing between the storm and the incident was a coincidence.

“This did not have to do with the winter storm. We were through that event and actually were feeling pretty celebratory that everything went well and then today, we had this event,” he said. “Nothing suggests that this is related to the winter storm.”

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