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Scheduled showers, porta potties and hotel stays: Hundreds of Austin apartment complexes still don't have water

Pearl Lantana Apartments is one of many apartment complexes around town without running water due to plumbing issues. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

The last night Stephanie Landgraf, 25, spent in her apartment, off of Rundberg Lane, was on Valentine's Day. First, her power went off, only to return shortly after the complex lost water. Since then, she's been staying with friends. "There's no end in sight," she told Austonia. "At this point, I'm just angry."


Although Austin Water announced it had restored service system-wide on Tuesday and reporting on the crisis has faded, some residents remain impacted due to burst and broken pipes that still need repairing. Landgraf's apartment complex provided an update earlier this week, attributing the outage to a shortage of specific plumbing parts and saying that service would be restored within 24 hours. That was three days ago.

Landgraf spent Friday, her day off, trying to get a hold of Austin Water. If her service isn't restored by Sunday, she'll get a hotel room—an expense that isn't covered by her renters' insurance. Still, she counts herself lucky to have an alternative place to stay. If she was still in her apartment, she would need to find a way to get water up to her unit. "My area of town is not okay," she said, adding that her neighbors were already spread thin by the pandemic. "We're still struggling."

Ongoing repairs

After nearly a week of widespread outages and a boil water notice, Austin Water announced it had restored service and lifted its notice citywide on Tuesday. But hundreds of apartment complexes and other properties still lack water because of unresolved pipe breaks. Although these complexes may be able to restore water service, they cannot do so without risking flooding or other damage.

"I would anticipate right now there's at least two to four hundred apartment complexes, condos, areas served by interior piping systems … that are out of water in one form or another," Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros told City Council Thursday. "That's changing rapidly, but that's a very large number. And that doesn't count single-family homes or others that are struggling with those kinds of things."

The utility, along with the city of Austin, is working to deliver water to impacted residents, conduct wellness checks and facilitate repairs on private properties now that the public system is stable. But some residents are still without a basic necessity.

"In many, many instances, families including children are living in unsanitary conditions with water shut off," Miguel Barbosa said during the public portion of Thursday's council meeting. "People need toilets. Families need showers. This is risky, and quite frankly it is life-threatening."

Property owners and management companies, on the other hand, are competing for repair services and other amenities.

Pinnacle, which manages the Arboretum Oaks property in Great Hills, sent an update to residents on Wednesday saying that 10 additional plumbers are expected to arrive this weekend to help with ongoing plumbing repairs. The property has been without water for days now. The company was also in the process of securing portable showers and toilets from vendors that are pulling inventory from other states due to high demand. Until they arrive, residents can schedule a time to use a shower in one of five vacant units at the Argosy at Crestview, a sister property 15 minutes away by car.

What residents can do

Residents without water should call 311 to report the outage. This will help with coordinating water deliveries and other support services, Juan Ortiz, the city's director of homeland security and emergency management, said Thursday.

Water distribution sites operated by the city and Travis County are being consolidated due to declining demand. One such site, at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex at 5600 E. William Cannon Drive, is open on Friday. The latest information on such sites can be found here.

Austin Water has not forgotten those who are still dealing with pipe damage and waiting for their water service to be restored. "We're going to stay on this and help these apartment complexes and others get water back to their systems," Meszaros said. But, he added, it will likely be "many days" before their crisis is over.

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A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add hello@theatxtoday.com to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.


Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.