UPDATE: Water Boil Is Lifted

UPDATE: Water Boil Is Lifted

The confluence of fresh Barton Springs water flowing into muddy Lady Bird Lake.
photo courtesy JTPics

Latest UPDATE: 10/28, 4pm

Austin Water Boil Order Is Lifted

Austin Water has lifted the boil water notice that has been in place since Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Customers no longer need to boil water used for drinking, cooking and making ice. Details and frequently asked questions at austintexas.gov/boilH2O.

UPDATE: 10/25, 12:45pm

Mayor Says More Help Is on the Way

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a State of Emergency Declaration for the City of Austin. He shared the news via Twitter:

This declaration is an administrative step being put in to place to engage the necessary apparatus to obtain state and federal funds. This declaration does not imply further emergency, and it is not a response to a change in conditions or circumstances. The path the city is on – in conserving water resources and in the precautionary Water Boil Order – is working.


It should be no surprise to Austinites that an unprecedented flood has brought an unprecedented response to protect our infrastructure. For the first time in our city’s history, we are under a city-wide Water-Boil Order and Emergency Water-Use Restrictions.

What You Can Do

For the Latest Info

•  Call 3-1-1
•  Visit austintexas.gov/BoilH2O
•  Follow @austintexasgov on social media.

Let People Know Where to Get Water: Municipal & University Water Distribution

City and County officials have made arrangements to provide extra water for those with special needs, who are unable to boil water, or need bottled water for work. Distribution sites have been established throughout the area for residents in need of water for use outside the home/at work. Schools are providing water on site for students to use.

• Williamson County is coordinating crisis water distribution at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, 10211 W. Parmer Ln. Water Distribution begins Wednesday, October 23, and will be available every day, 7am-7pm, except for Fridays when services will be available 7am-5pm.

The distribution point will provide potable water to about 80,000 people in the Williamson County area of Austin that are under a boil water notice. County emergency management are also working with the Round Rock and Leander school districts in obtaining clean water for 25 schools affected by the boil water notice.

All other cities in Williamson County – including Round Rock, Leander and Cedar Park – are not affected by Austin’s boil water notice. Only Round Rock and Leander school district campuses within Austin city limits are under the boil water notice.

The county activated its Emergency Operations Center at 10 a.m. Tuesday and will remain active until Austin’s contaminated water issue is remedied.

• City of Austin distribution sites in the Travis County part of the city will operate from 7am to 7pm and are located at:

Supplies are limited to one gallon of water per person and up to four gallons for a family of four. City of Austin volunteers will be staffing the water distribution sites. Pick up will be located at the driveway entrance of the sites.

University of Texas main campus has set up water distribution stations at the following locations:

• Recreational Sports Center
• Gregory Gym
• Student Services Building
• Texas Union Building

Stay Up-to-Date and Informed

•  Sign up for WarnCentralTexas.org. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it brings the latest news and emergency updates right to your fingertips.
•  Cell phone users must register at WarnCentralTexas.org  to receive the notification system’s messages by phone, email and text.
•  Countywide major emergency information is posted on Facebook and on Twitter .

Conserve, Conserve, Conserve (and boil that water!)

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros issued emergency water use restrictions. From the press release:

Due to the high level of silt and debris in our water supply lakes as a result of recent flooding, there is an urgent need to reduce water demand to allow treatment plant operations to stabilize.

During this period and until further notice, all outdoor water use is prohibited. Customers may not:
• Use water for irrigation or testing of irrigation equipment
• Wash vehicles, including at commercial car wash facilities
• Wash pavement or other surfaces
• Add water to a pool or spa
• Conduct foundation watering, or
• Operate an ornamental fountain or pond, other than aeration necessary to support aquatic life

The city-wide boil water notice is in addition to actions taken by the City over the last week to ensure the health and safety of our community during this flood event. These have included activating the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center to closely monitor the evolving conditions, closing the City’s waterway, closing Parks and Recreation facilities along City waterways, monitoring and managing low-water crossings, and working with our neighbors to the west of Austin to respond to their own flood emergencies.

While, it might seem odd to review “How to Boil Water,” KXAN lays out What to Do During a Boil Water Notice.

Make Conservation a Habit

Why stop a good habit? Carry this water conservancy spirit forward, as the rivers heal. The less water we all use, the less our water treatment system is taxed.

What does it mean when a water treatment system is taxed? Check out this great news report from KXAN.

Learn How a Water Treatment Plant Works

A better understanding of how a treatment facility works clarifies how a rush of silty, debris-laden floodwater could gum up our otherwise amazing and efficient systems. And once you understand the bigger picture behind what it takes to deliver just one drop of water to your home, the value of that drop of water becomes clear.

For background on how municipal water gets treated – laid out in lay-person’s terms –read Dirty to Clean: How a Water Treatment Plant Works from InterestingEngineering.com.

You Need a Filter to Sort Through Rumors: Stay Informed!

There are always conflicting reports during emergency situations. And erroneous statement from another government entity had folks believing that we were looking at another 10-14 days of this challenge. That was never an estimate issued by Austin Water.

 Austin Water‘s Greg Mezsaros issued this statement: “Based on the most current information, we do not anticipate our water issues to last beyond a handful of days. Much of that estimate, however, depends on variables such as weather and consumption demands. We continue to make long-term plans in the event this situation isn’t quickly resolves. We will continue to monitor the situation and ask that the public continue to be diligent in reducing their water usage.”

Stay tuned to Austin Water and the Mayor’s social media for the latest. Watch KXAN’s interview with Mayor Steve Adler (aired Tuesday, Oct. 23) for answers about the Water Boil and Conservation mandates.

Pause for a Moment of Strange Beauty

For an amazing bird’s eye view of what a serious confluence of floodwater looks like, check out the video below by Austin’s Jared Tennant Photography/Videography showing the fresh surge of Barton Springs as it flows into the torrent of “chocolate milk” from Lady Bird Lake. Many thanks to Jared and JTPics for the generous use of this clip and photos used herein.