News Feature | October 29, 2018

Historic Flood Shakes Up Austin Drinking Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

texas flag reg new

The Texas capital is facing drinking water complications including a boil-water notice and use restrictions in the wake of significant flooding.

“Officials in Austin, Texas, have issued a citywide boil-water ordinance and urged residents to cut consumption as the city has been struggling to treat water dirtied by historic flooding,” NBC News reported.

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk framed the measures as “precautionary,” according to the report.

On October 22, the city announced emergency water use restrictions.

“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,” the statement said.

“Historic flood waters flowing into our region’s water supply lakes, the Highland Lakes, contain much higher levels of debris, silt, and mud. As a result, Austin water is experiencing reduced water treatment capacity,” the statement said.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said “that there is no water shortage; rather, there is limited space to hold water ‘in the stores.’ Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said water demand is down, which is a positive sign as it relates to the boil water notice,” Spectrum News reported.

KUT 90.5 posted that consumers may be thinking more about their drinking water infrastructure now that the boil-water notice is in place. The news outlet published an article explaining the city’s water treatment process.

“The city operates three water-treatment plants on Lake Travis and Lake Austin. These aren’t natural ‘lakes,’ but rather dammed-up reservoirs on the Colorado River,” the report stated.

CNN reported that Austin ratepayers were compliant with directions.

“The outlook in Austin was far improved, as citizens heeded a call to cut consumption by at least 15 percent. Plants were producing more treated water than was being consumed and reservoirs were refilling, officials said at a briefing,” the report stated.

Cronk stated: "The good news is that you heard us and it's working. But we are asking you to keep your water conservation efforts."

Image credit: "Texas Flag," Ray Bodden © 2008, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/