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Austin Water issues citywide boil water notice, area hospitals without water pressure

Austin Water issued a city-wide boil water notice Wednesday evening due to power loss at the Ullrich water treatment plant, the city's largest, and drops in water pressures to below minimum standards, which could introduce contaminants into the water distribution system.


Austin Water is working with Austin Energy to restore power at the treatment plant. The utility issued a limited boil water notice earlier in the day due to a burst water main in the Circle C neighborhood and implemented new mandatory conservation measures in an attempt to avoid the current situation.

City residents should boil tap water vigorously for at least two minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. (Start your time when the water begins to bubble.) This includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, preparing baby formula, washing raw foods and pets. Boiling removes harmful bacteria in the water that may cause illness. Residents should throw out any ice made during the notice period, as freezing does not kill bacteria.

Unboiled tap water is safe for washing dishes but residents should use hot, soapy water and rinse dishes in boiled water. It is also safe for bathing.

Residents without power but who have access to working gas stoves can use them to boil water, Austin Water Director Greg Maszaros said during a press conference earlier in the day. Otherwise, they will need bottled water.

The notice arrives as the Austin area approaches 72 hours of widespread power outages. Although Austin Energy reports fewer customers are currently impacted—138,494 or about 27%—than were over the past few days, an increasing number of residents are facing water outages due to burst pipes.

Hospitals update

St. David's South Austin Medical Center lost water pressures earlier in the day, along with "a number of other hospitals in the Austin area," according to a statement issued by St. David's HealthCare CEO David Huffstutler Wednesday evening. The facility's boiler relies on water, so it is also losing heat.

The hospital currently has just under 300 patients, and its team is working with city officials to transport the most critical patients to other hospitals, discharge those patients who can safely return home and get water trucks and portable toilets on site.

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