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City says it's safe for Austin residents to drink tap water again

An Austin Water employee fills a bottle with drinking water at a water distribution site
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
An Austin Water employee fills a bottle with drinking water at a water distribution site after the city issued a boil-water notice in February.

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The city is no longer asking Austin residents to boil tap water before drinking it.

“The Boil Water Notice has been lifted and customers can resume use of their tap water for consumption,” Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said in a press release Tuesday night. “Austin Water will immediately begin a thorough review of the incident and will implement any necessary process improvements to avoid operator errors in the future.”

A citywide boil-water notice was issued Saturday evening. Austin Water said human error led to issues at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant. As the city worked to get the plant back up and running, it urged people to reduce water usage and boil it for two minutes before consuming it as a precaution.

Austin Water got the plant fully functional and lifted the water conservation restrictions Monday. But it needed to test water samples before it could announce the water was safe to drink. The results Tuesday indicated that the water no longer requires boiling prior to using it.

Austin Water says customers can flush household pipes to ensure fresh water is flowing through them. They can do this by:

  • Running all cold-water faucets for one minute
  • Making three batches of ice and discarding them
  • Running water softeners through a regeneration cycle

The utility says food enterprises are required to flush all water lines, such as lines connected to ice machines, coffee machines and food preparation equipment. Guidance on how to do that can be found here.

The last time Austin was under a city-wide boil-water notice was about a year ago when, during a historic winter storm, the Ullrich plant lost power and most of the city had low water pressure or no water at all. This recent boil-water notice, officials said, was not related to last week’s freeze.

Some Austin City Council members are calling for an external audit of Austin Water. At least four have said they support hiring an outside party to audit the utility. The council will likely vote on this at their next meeting Feb. 17.

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