City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center
Water is being sent to City and County facilities, shelters, and other critical missions
City of Austin and Travis County recovery operations continue in response to the multiple weather-related crises that hit the area and devastated the community over the past week.
The extended Winter Weather Event order and disaster declaration for Austin remain in effect to minimize energy demand and ensure the community can continue to tap into every resource available to persevere through this crisis.
The Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (A-TCEOC) continues working on distribution operations. Tomorrow, multiple locations available across the community to distribute water. More information, including locations and opening times will be provided tomorrow morning.
Additionally, water is being sent to City and County facilities, shelters, and other critical missions. Beginning this morning, water was also distributed via partner organizations to our most vulnerable residents.
As of 8:00 p.m., on February 20, 2021 we have received more than 57,304 gallons of water in approximately 434,000 bottles. We have distributed 39,767 gallons in approximately 301,000 water bottles. Information on water received and distributed will be updated on the Cold Weather and Information Resource page and on the City’s social media pages.
Water Utility Restoration
Because the storage capacity, flow and production of water are constantly in flux, it is difficult to provide real-time updates on the status of the system.
The recovery process for our water system involves many factors:
Stabilizing our infrastructure. Because so much water was lost due to dripping faucets and broken pipes from the freeze, the amount of water we have stored is depleted well below the 100-million-gallon minimum we need. Currently, there is not enough pressure in our pipelines to get water distributed throughout our service area. We must build up the amount of water stored in our reservoirs to create flow in our pipelines, and because of the way our infrastructure was built over time, water flow will occur in the Central Zone fastest. It will take longer to get to other pressure zones due to things like elevation and distance and more recently developed areas of the city.
Austin’s water infrastructure is all connected – we are literally all in this together! So conservation is critical – once water flow returns to your area, be aware that continuing to conserve water will help others get their water back faster.
Testing and sampling. We need to be sure that no harmful contaminants have entered the water supply when our water levels dropped and stopped flowing. We are working with teams to test the water all over town as water service is restored to make certain that it is safe to drink.
Normal operations. The water system will return to normal operations when normal pressure and flow are achieved throughout the system and every zone has been tested and cleared of contaminants. At that point, the Boil Water Notice can be rescinded.
As we move through the system recovery process, what you do matters! Conserving water will get us back to normal operations faster. The City is under mandatory conservation measures at the moment:
During water restrictions, customers may not:
Use water for irrigation or testing of irrigation equipment
Wash vehicles, including at commercial car wash facilities
Wash pavement or other surfaces
Add water to a pool or spa
Conduct foundation watering, or
Operate an ornamental fountain or pond, other than aeration necessary to support aquatic life
Violations of these restrictions should be reported to Austin 3-1-1. Austin Water appreciates your support in reducing water use to help stabilize Austin’s water treatment plants.
As water begins to be restored, here are some tips that Austin Water would like share.
If you don’t have water or if your pressure is currently low, your faucets do not have to be open when water is restored. To ensure water pressure has returned, open one faucet at the highest level of your home to remove the air. If water begins to flow, move on to your next faucet or bib and repeat the same process. If water does not flow you might have a frozen pipe that needs to thaw. Ensure all lines are flushed to remove air or debris. When closing faucets, take care to close them slowly.
The Boil Water Notice has not been lifted. Even if water pressure has been restored. If water service has resumed and pressure has normalized, please continue to boil water for drinking and cooking until further notice. For more information about FAQ's go to austinwater.org.
Please continue to report leaks in your neighborhood using the online issue report form.
We know it is tough, but please continue to limit activities such as washing clothes or running dishwashers to help conserve what we have. Take care of your neighbors throughout the city by using less for now.
Austin Energy Restoration
Austin Energy (AE) has restored power to more than 99.7% of its customers. AE is prioritizing customers that have been out the longest. Working through the system and identifying issues from the severe winter weather will take time. Full restoration may take through at least the weekend. You can stay up to date by following Austin Energy on Twitter and Facebook.
If you are currently without power, you can help us avoid overloaded circuits and additional outages when power comes back on by:
Turning off your thermostats.
Turning off light fixtures and unplugging any appliances.
Only leaving on one light to indicate when the power is back on
Austin Energy provides stable, affordable electric rates to all its customers and want to stress to our customers that Austin Energy will not benefit financially in any way from this winter storm event.
Austin Energy’s base rates are fixed and any changes must be authorized by Austin City Council, our governing body, after a thorough rate review process.
Please continue to monitor Austin Energy on Twitter, Facebook and our website for updates.
There continues to be much interest in helping those in need during the winter storm crisis. The City of Austin created a Winter Storm Volunteer sign up form for those to sign up to help.
So far, we have received contact information from 1600+ interested volunteers who can play a critical role in addressing both immediate and long-term needs. The volunteer form signs-up residents to receive alerts so they may sign up for volunteer opportunities as they arise. Currently this includes shelter and travel support but will be expanded for clean-up efforts and more.
Volunteers can visit this webpage: https://www.austintexas.gov/help-atx-winter for information on how to get involved. They can sign up for volunteer opportunities and fill out the volunteer form from there to receive alerts. This page was developed in partnership with Austin Disaster Relief Network and Travis County and will continue to list opportunities developed by both groups as well as the City of Austin.
Shelters and Warming Centers
Shelters inside the City of Austin continue to operate. The population in the shelters across the community have begun to reduce. Limited space in shelters are still available at Del Valle High School, Mendez Middle School, and Reilly Elementary School.
As residents have power and water service restored, we are coordinating transportation back home via Capital Metro or other private services.
Warming centers managed by the Austin Independent School District stopped operating yesterday, Friday, February 19 at 9 p.m.
As a reminder, the Palmer Event Center is at capacity. We are no longer able to accommodate new people there. Additional shelters are operating at area churches in coordination with the network of Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) which can be found here.
UT Shuttle Service will Resume Normal Schedules on Sunday, Feb 21st.
We will also be running non-revenue test trains on MetroRail this weekend to prepare for service to resume on Monday.
As of this morning, Austin Transportation reports that more than 80 percent of traffic signals are operational. Street and Bridge crews will continue to monitor road conditions.
Citizens can report potholes, obstructions – such as downed trees in the roadway or sidewalk, using the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app. Using the app helps Public Works track these reports and reduces call volume for 3-1-1 operators. or call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 for support.
Trash Pick-up Services
If your collection was missed on Friday, February 12, we will be doing a make-up collection of trash and composting only on Sunday, February 21.
If your collection was missed on February 12, please set out trash and compost carts only by 6:30 a.m. on Sunday February 21. Collections may take longer than usual. Leave any uncollected carts, and other material at the curb to allow our crews to catch up.
If your regular collection day is Friday and your carts were serviced on February 12, please set your carts out on your regular collection day, this Sunday collection is only for those missed on February 12.
City Resources and Information
Individuals who are looking for available City and County resources, as well as other community resources can visit austintexas.gov/weatherinfo or austintexas.gov/infoclimatica for Spanish. City and County departments will also continue to provide updates on social media channels.