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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.
City-wide boil water notice issued due to power loss at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant and drop in water pressure below minimum standards. We are working with #Austin Energy to assess the system. Boil water for consumption. Follow guidelines at https://t.co/cReBGhnJAp pic.twitter.com/dzD0YjFuYu
— Austin Water (@AustinWater) February 18, 2021
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.
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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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."