Austin Water officials are issuing an "urgent call" for people to reduce water usage immediately, as the utility struggles with debris, silt and mud in the water supply after historic flooding in the Highland Lakes. Lake Travis is the source of Austin's drinking water.
"Austin Water is experiencing reduced water treatment capacity," the utility said in an email. "It is taking more time to remove the higher levels of silt and debris."
The level of cloudiness in the lake water has increased by more than 100 times, according to Austin Water.
The utility is asking people not to water outdoors, to postpone dishwashing and clothes washing and to take shorter showers to reduce water usage.
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros told KUT Sunday afternoon the water usage cutback request could extend for a few days, depending on upcoming rainfall totals and any additional floodgate operations along the Highland Lakes.
Meszaros says ignoring the call to conserve water could lead to water storage tanks draining down and then reduced water pressure, which he says could hamper fire fighting efforts. Listen below for the full conversation: