Austin officials are asking residents to immediately take steps to avoid a citywide boil-water notice, impacts to fire hydrants and a widespread lack of water service—as the city approaches nearly three full days without power amid a pandemic.
"We need to conserve water, and that, right now, is the most immediate priority," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Until Wednesday, city officials asked residents to drip their faucets in an effort to prevent frozen and burst pipes and said there were no plans to disrupt water service. Circumstances have since changed. Dripping faucets and burst pipes have contributed to a surge in water use that threatens to outpace the available supply, mirroring the circumstances that led to mass power outages across the state.
"It may not seem like a lot of water if you drip a few faucets," Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said. But the local utility estimates local faucet dripping is requiring 140 million gallons of water a day. When combined with burst pipes, Austin Water is seeing demand more than double the available capacity.
Southwest Austin is the most impacted area, as a water main break in the Circle C neighborhood led to a boil-water notice for affected areas.
This water crisis exacerbates the existing energy crisis. More than 30% of Austin Energy customers remain without power and may not be able to boil water that is safe to use. It is also hard for Austin Water crews to identify broken water mains because of the snow and to repair them because of ice on the roads.
Austin Water officials are asking residents who still have access to take conservation measures, such as turning off their dripping faucets and not running laundry and dishwashers.
Austin Energy announced early Wednesday afternoon that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the state's power grid, had permitted the utility to restore 16 circuits across its service area. Customers who have been without power the longest are being prioritized, but General Manager Jackie Sargent warned customers that restoration will likely be short-lived because of ongoing grid issues and circuit overloads caused by lights, electronics and thermostats left on pre-outage.
Although other energy companies operating in Austin and those around the state have been able to implement rolling outages, Austin Energy is not yet able to do so because of the high number of circuits that include critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and fire stations. The utility is also unable to control power access to individual customers and instead must deal with entire circuits, Sargent said.
The Biden administration is monitoring the emergency situation in Texas and has coordinated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance, including deliveries of water and blankets.
"FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel into the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power, which of course is a major issue on the ground, to key critical infrastructure, including communications, hospitals and water," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during the daily news briefing on Wednesday.
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Texans during an appearance on the Today show Wednesday morning. "I know they can't see us right now," she said. "But the president and I are thinking of them and really hope that we can do everything that is possible through the signing of the emergency orders to get federal relief to support them."
President Joe Biden declared an emergency for the state of Texas and ordered federal assistance to help with the severe winter storm on Sunday.
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!