Officials: Austin's boil water mandate was 'precautionary' and could end by weekend

Hundreds of visitors have checked out the Mansfield Dam, where four floodgates could remain open until the end of the month.

Hundreds of visitors have checked out the Mansfield Dam, where four floodgates could remain open until the end of the month.

Austinites have answered the call to reduce their water consumption to promising results according to city officials who said Tuesday the city is now producing more clean water than is being consumed and the boil water mandate could be lifted by the weekend.

“Yesterday we took an unprecedented step in issuing a citywide boil water ordinance and restrict water usage because of the impacts from the recent flooding,” Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said. “The good news is that you heard us and it is working.”

Amid the success, Cronk urged Austinites to continue their conservation efforts and refrain from watering lawns and washing cars and keep showers short. Cronk said there is no indication this will continue as a long-term issue.

“We’re talking days,” Cronk said.

The weather remains a huge variable in the remaining length of the boil water notice. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said should only the expected couple inches fall on Wednesday and the city continues its conservation efforts, the boil water notice could be lifted by the weekend.

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Austinites successfully decreased their water consumption between 15 and 20 percent, but the real test will be Wednesday an Thursday, which he said are the days residents typically use the most water throughout the week.

At one point during Tuesday’s press conference, Meszaros showed a picture of the opaque, brown and polluted water entering Austin’s water treatment plants and then held up a beaker of clear drinking water and indicated there is still much work to be done.

Cronk said the boil water notice was “absolutely precautionary,” and Meszaros said although the water was reaching a level of contamination that would have legally compelled a boil water notice, Austin Water proactively sent out the notice. Meszaros said contamination has still not reached that level yet, however, he could not guarantee the water was safe and urged residents to continue to boil their water.

Director of Austin Public Health said residents should call 3-1-1 if they are suspicious about any restaurants continuing to serve water; however, Hayden said they health department is in “constant communication with all food establishments.”
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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