AUSTIN, TX – Austin City Council Mayor Pro-Tem Alison Alter Calls for an External Audit of Austin Water.
Around 8 a.m. Saturday, increased turbidity, or cloudiness, was detected at Austin Water’s Ullrich Water Treatment Plant. An Austin Water spokesperson said “Austin Water personnel narrowed the cause down to an internal operational issue,” meaning human error.
Austin Water issued a boil water advisory to residents around 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
FOX 7 Austin asked an Austin Water spokesperson why a boil water advisory was not issued for nearly 12 hours. They replied “Boil water advisories must be issued within 24 hours of the incident in accordance with TCEQ regulations, which take into account exposure to potential contaminants.”
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, no contaminants had been detected according to Austin Water.
They state that the boil is “precautionary”. FOX 7 Austin asked for clarification on TCEQ’s notification protocol on Tuesday, their spokesperson returned this response:
A boil water advisory (BWN) is issued as a precaution or advisory to protect consumers from drinking water that may have been contaminated with disease-causing organisms (also known as pathogens). BWNs are typically issued when an unforeseen condition has caused the potential for biological contamination of drinking water in a public water system.
The public water system must issue a BWN as soon as possible, but in no event later than 24 hours after meeting any of the criteria listed below, as specified by 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 290.46(q) (1).
BWNs are instituted by PWWs as specified by 30 TAC 290.46(q) in the event of:
– low dispensing pressures (less than 20 pounds per square inch (psi)),
– water cuts,
– microbiological samples containing E. coli,
– failure to maintain adequate disinfectant residues,
– high turbidity of finished surface water,
– or other conditions that indicate that the potability of the drinking water supply has been compromised.
This is the third boil water advisory issued by Austin Water in four years.
“At this point, we don’t know what we don’t know, and we need to have independent eyes on Austin Water to help us understand the nature of the pattern we’ve seen. It’s not lost on me this is our third boil water advisory in four years,” Alter said.
Five members of the podium expressed their support for an external audit. Alter said she hopes to have a resolution on the board’s agenda for their meeting next Thursday.
“Why does this keep happening in Austin? You know, we’re a big city, and it looks like we’d be a lot further along or pay more attention,” Austinite Dee Sullivan told FOX 7 Austin at a civic event. water supply point.
City sources told FOX 7 Austin that the lab testing the water did not confirm it had received the necessary samples until around midnight Tuesday. The addition of Austin Water officials had hoped to lift the boil water advisory Tuesday afternoon or early evening.
At 4 p.m., the laboratory had still not provided its results to the TCEQ. The TCEQ must give Austin Water the go-ahead to lift the boil water advisory.
The water company had said it expected to lift the advisory between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday, but wrote in a tweet around 9 p.m. that it was still awaiting test results.
“We share our entire community’s frustration and regret that all of this is necessary. Austin Water crews are fully invested in lifting the boil water advisory as soon as possible,” the tweet read. “We are waiting for all test results to be reviewed by TCEQ.”
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