Floodwaters shut down the Colorado River a year ago, bringing mud and silt to the treatment plants that supply Austin’s water. That aquatic sediment was too much for the plants to filter out efficiently. What followed will be remembered by anyone who lived here as “the week we all had to boil our water.”
Austin Water delivered an “after action” report to City Council today on the weeklong boil-water order enacted during severe flooding in October. During its presentation, the utility shed more light on what happened to bring about the emergency and what the city might do to avoid future water-boil mandates.
An overnight spike in silt in Austin's tap water triggered an official boil-water notice from state regulators.
The water briefly exceeded the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s regulatory standards for drinking water quality, surpassing a limit of 5 turbidity units. The city's earlier boil-water notice was only precautionary.
A boil water notice remains in effect for Austin Water customers, and the city of Austin is pleading for people to slash their water consumption by 15 to 20 percent. Outdoor water use is being banned as part of what officials describe as an emergency situation.
Travis County’s emergency management chief said the situation could last up to two weeks.