Water service interruptions continue for west Travis County

WCID 17, a water district serving several neighborhoods in west Travis County, is working to restore service after experiencing multiple equipment failures. (Courtesy Fotolia)
WCID 17, a water district serving several neighborhoods in west Travis County, is working to restore service after experiencing multiple equipment failures. (Courtesy Fotolia)

WCID 17, a water district serving several neighborhoods in west Travis County, is working to restore service after experiencing multiple equipment failures. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Note: This story was last updated at 1:30 p.m., Feb. 17.

Residents of Majestic Hills, Falconhead West, some areas of Flintrock Falls and Serene Hills can expect no water service for an additional 24-36 hours due to ongoing equipment failures and weather-related challenges.

These neighborhoods lie at the southern end of WCID 17, or Water Control and Improvement District 17, and represent about 20% of the water district's service territory, according to Jason Homan, district general manager.

Breakdowns in this service area occurred for multiple reasons. Two of its three water plants experienced equipment failure, and as many as eight water pumping stations have had frozen equipment, Homan said.

“When we lost power at our remote stations, the heating elements lost their power and we had freezes on a lot of our equipment,” Homan said. “We’ve been going to each one of those stations and thawing them out and safely bringing them back online.”

As WCID crews have been working, resident Doug Sigel, who lives in Serene Hills, said he and his family have been without water in their home since Feb. 15 and have been unable to reach a store because Serene Hills Drive is closed.

“We are running very low on water,” he said. “Our road is blocked, and we can’t go to H-E-B. We are melting snow, and we may have to boil that and drink that.”

Sigel said there has been no communication from the city of Lakeway about the outage and alternative supplies of water.

The cities of Lakeway and Bee Cave are discussing possible shipments of supplemental water, but no details were available at the time of this posting. At issue is when such a shipment of water could be made available and delivered, said Jarrod Wise, communications director for the city of Lakeway.

"We are working with Bee Cave," Wise said. "We don't have it with us, and we might not get it today."

Also, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center is experiencing water interruptions, according to Wise. That is a high-priority item for the water district, he said.

“They are focused on trying to get water to the hospital,” he said.

Because of events like this, residents in the WCID 17 service territory should practice extreme water conservation and avoid dripping water outlets while outside temperatures remain above freezing, Homan said. Washing clothes, filling bathtubs with water and taking showers should also be avoided as the district works to restore water pressure to the southern region of its service territory.

"If we can avoid those usages for the next six to 12 hours, it will be greatly appreciated," he said.

Demand for water is unusually high as residents dribble water through their homes' taps to protect pipes, and this practice should be avoided whenever possible, Homan said.

WCID 17 has been receiving emergency water from the city of Austin through a connection between the two utilities, but Homan said he expected that service to end as Austin struggles to meet its own water demand. Repairs continue as of Feb. 17. The district's Mansfield Water Treatment Plant is currently running at full capacity, but one of the plants at its Eck Lane facility is offline due to a ruptured valve, Homan said.

WCID 17 is asking residents that when water service returns to initially boil water for consumption as a precaution. The notice does not apply to Steiner Ranch.
By Greg Perliski
Greg edits Community Impact Newspaper's Lakeway/Lake Travis and Northwest Austin editions. During the course of his diverse career, he has written for newspapers, online publications and corporate communications teams. He earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. You can reach him at gperliski@communityimpact.com


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