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Austin residents must boil water after treatment plant issue

February 7, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A boil water notice has been issued for residents in Austin after a problem at a water treatment plant, officials said.

When the city issued the boil water notice Saturday evening, Mayor Steve Adler said it appeared “this will be over in a couple of days.”

The city is also prohibiting outdoor water use and asking residents to curtail indoor water use, in addition to requiring commercial customers to reduce water consumption.

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant had a treatment process “upset” that resulted in a spike in turbidity, which is the measurement of the water’s clarity.

The city said that turbidity can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth, and may also indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms like bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Meszaros said though that there have been no indications of contamination.

“This was a very short term event. ... Very low risk, but regulations are regulations and we have to do this boil water notice and and really encourage people you know to treat it seriously,” Meszaros said.

Meszaros told the Austin American-Statesman on Sunday that they are still trying to determine what happened but that the problem was likely caused by a “a staff operations issue” and “how we operate the plant.”

Austin had freezing temperatures last week but officials said the boil water notice wasn’t related to the winter weather.

The city, which has a population of about 960,000, has opened water distribution sites for the public.