West Travis County Public Utility Agency asks customers to conserve water; Lake Travis Fire and Rescue receives influx of burst-pipe calls

Inclement weather conditions in Austin have impacted more than just electricity. Water utility agencies and emergency service providers have reported significant water challenges in light of freezing temperatures. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Inclement weather conditions in Austin have impacted more than just electricity. Water utility agencies and emergency service providers have reported significant water challenges in light of freezing temperatures. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Inclement weather conditions in Austin have impacted more than just electricity. Water utility agencies and emergency service providers have reported significant water challenges in light of freezing temperatures. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

The West Travis County Public Utility Agencya water utility agency serving the Bee Cave and surrounding areasis facing the possibility of depleted water service if customers do not curtail consumption over the next 48 hours.

Residents within the WTCPUA’s service area received a text alert Feb. 17 pushing for an urgent water conservation effort. To continue water service, customers have been asked to limit usage to essential needs.

Inclement weather conditions have driven water consumption up to a level traditionally experienced during the region’s hot summer months. The WTCPUA is struggling to meet that demand amid the challenges created by the winter storm, according to an update from General Manager Jennifer Riechers.

In an effort to prevent frozen pipes, many customers have kept their faucets at a steady drip. However, since temperatures have risen above freezing, this practice can be discontinued during daylight hours, according to the PUA.

Water should be turned off immediately in the event that a homeowner experiences a burst pipe. WTCPUA customers should contact the customer service line at 512-263-0125.

Some Bee Cave residents serviced by Water Control and Improvement District 17 are experiencing the water interruptions warned by the WTCPUA.

Two of WCID 17’s three water plants experienced equipment failure in light of freezing temperatures, according to Jason Homan, the district’s general manager.

As of Feb. 17, residents in WCID 17's southern region including Majestic Hills, Falconhead West, some areas of Flintrock Falls and Serene Hills should not expect water service for an additional 24 to 36 hours as WCID 17 crews work to address the issue.

Bee Cave Mayor Kara King posted an update on Facebook stating these residents should plan not to have running water until Feb. 20.

“If we get it before, it will be a surprise,” King said.

Those who still have service have been asked to practice extreme water conservation and avoid dripping faucets while the temperature remains above freezing. Practices such as washing clothes, filling bathtubs and taking showers should be avoided while WCID 17 works to restore water pressure to the southern portion of its service area, according to Homan.

Nearby in Lakeway, residents are also dealing with frozen and burst pipes. Lake Travis Fire and Rescue has reported a large influx of service calls regarding broken pipes throughout the city, according to LTFR Captain Glenn Trubee.

The most effective way to prevent a broken water pipe within a home is to turn off the water supply at the meter and drain the home’s water pipes, according to Trubee, who suggested residents research their corresponding water provider’s recommendations.

He also suggested filling bathtubs up with water or snow so it may be used to flush toilets.

Overall, the demand for emergency services has been extremely high over the past couple of days. Trubee said LTFR has extra staff on board and has been extending shifts as required.

Despite potential delays in response times due to inclement weather, Trubee said staff has not an issue addressing residents' emergencies.

“Overall, we are doing well and we have had no serious issues with staffing or responding to calls,” Trubee said.

In light of increased demand, LTFR has asked residents to shut their water off themselves following a burst pipe. If a resident is unable to accomplish this then they may contact LTFR. At this time, burst pipes are considered a low priority and could be temporarily placed on hold if more urgent calls come in.

“Our first priority will be to help those with true fire, EMS and rescue emergencies,” Trubee said.

Greg Perliski contributed to this report.

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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