100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
On the fifth day of a statewide super crisis, Austin Water customers are experiencing either a water outage or low pressure in addition to a citywide boil water notice, which has been in effect since Wednesday evening.
Although Austin Water announced that production is up, service has returned to three major hospitals and pressure has been restored "in major pipelines that are the backbone of our water distribution system." The local utility forecasts it will be "a multi-day long process to restore water service," at which point the boil water notice may be lifted.
For many residents, this news arrives as their power is being restored. Austin Energy reports that more than 96% of its customers have power as of Friday morning, leaving more than 18,000 without. Meanwhile, rising temperatures and ongoing efforts to distribute food and water offer glimmers of hope.
A citywide boil water notice remains in effect and tens of thousands of Austin Water customers are experiencing outages, Director Greg Meszaros said Thursday afternoon. The remainder are experiencing low pressure.
This map shows how the water system is currently performing. Each zone is an area experiencing outages (red) or low pressure (orange). The goal is for each zone to get to green again, where the system is operating normally & the boil water notice can be lifted. pic.twitter.com/KFtkWMg1fA
— Austin Water (@AustinWater) February 19, 2021
Restoring water for these customers will take days as the utility works to repair leaks in the system, refill reservoirs that drained due to leaks and restore pressure.
Early Friday morning, Austin Water announced on Twitter that:
- Its three water treatment plants are operating in a stable mode and produced 86 million gallons of water in the previous 12 hours (more than half of their normal daily production this time of the year)
- It was able to restore water service to three major hospitals on Thursday
- It was also able to restore water pressure in major pipelines that feed all parts of the city
- Crews are working to fix water main breaks and help customers who need their water service turned off because of busted pipes
"We made progress today but we still have many challenges to overcome," the utility wrote.
Once Austin Water is able to restore pressure, the utility will have to go through a sampling and testing process as required by state law before it can lift the boil water notice. Texas Commission of Environmental Quality Executive Director Toby Baker said there are only 135 labs in the state that can do the necessary sampling, which means such notices could linger, according to the Texas Tribune; approximately 12 million Texans across nearly 600 public water systems were experiencing disruptions as of Wednesday afternoon.
With 18,165 Austin Energy customers still without power to boil water and many area grocery stores wiped clean in recent days, Austinites are in need of safe drinking water and other provisions.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management is due to deliver two 18-wheelers full of water from a FEMA site in Fort Worth Friday morning, Travis County Judge Andy Brown announced during a Facebook live on Thursday evening.
City officials have also ordered one million gallons of water in 16-ounce bottles from six states in the Southeastern U.S. that are due to arrive this weekend. "Trucks are on their way," Brown said.
National Guard members are also helping to get a "flotilla of delivery trucks" full of food from H-E-B storehouses in Temple and San Antonio to Austin, Adler said.
You can find places offering water in town today here.
Austin Energy reports that 96.45% of its customers have power, as of 8:40 a.m. on Friday, and that its crews were able to restore power to about half of its affected customers overnight. This is a significant improvement from earlier in the week when, at the peak of the energy crisis, more than 40% of the utility's customers were experiencing outages. This still leaves 18,165 customers without power, however.
Officials at the Electric Resource Council of Texas, which maintains around 90% of the state's power grid, announced Thursday morning that they are no longer requiring outages to prevent a total grid collapse and that utility companies can restore service to those customers impacted by such mandates.
Remaining power outages are likely due to circuit damage caused by inclement weather—trees on power lines, blown line fuses, etc.—that will require on-site repairs, which take time, Austin Energy tweeted Thursday morning. "Process can still take several more days to get everyone back online," according to the thread.
⚡Many of the customers who are still without power have issues, such as trees on power lines, line fuses that need to be replaced, etc. This repair process takes time.
⚡Process can still take several more days to get everyone back online.
— Austin Energy (@austinenergy) February 19, 2021
- Austin sees some power return amid water & natural gas crises ... ›
- Austin Water issues citywide boil water notice - austonia ›
- 3 reasons Texas and Austin don't have enough power - austonia ›
- Food, bottled water en route to Austin amid weather crisis - austonia ›
- Water conservation is now Austin's 'immediate priority' - austonia ›
- Austin Water: Most customers should have service by Monday - austonia ›
- Water distribution plan continues as Austin Water works to restore service - austonia ›
- Austin Water partially lifts boil notice, 99.9% have power - austonia ›
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."
- Matthew McConaughey featured on the cover of People Magazine ... ›
- Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey talks preserving Austin ... ›
- McConaughey to showcase Texas talent in winter storm benefit ... ›
- Texans vote McConaughey in latest governor poll - austonia ›
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."