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
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The 40-hour workweek has reigned since around the time of the Great Depression. But a new schedule gaining steam could lead some companies to throw out the practice of having employees clock in five days a week.
Promising results are coming out halfway into a six-month trial of four-day workweeks in the U.K. with 35 out of 41 companies responding to a recent survey saying they were “likely” or “very likely” to continue the reduced week after the pilot ends.
The trial, which began in June, is run by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University. It involves 3,300 workers across 72 companies who are trying out one paid day off per week between Monday and Friday.
During the four-day week, 34% of companies reported that productivity “improved slightly” and 15% say it “improved significantly.”
With the survey indicating that a four-day workweek could have some perks for companies and employees alike, will Austin join in on the trend?
On job searching tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, some jobs based in Central Texas are boasting a four-day work week. And Coltech Global, a recruiting firm based in London with a growing presence in Austin, began the four-day work week about a year ago.
Jessica Sutcliffe, a staffing consultant at Coltech, joined the company to help grow the U.S. market. She says due to the time difference between the U.S. team and the UK one, the company implemented a four-day week.
"I’ve found it very beneficial as it allows time to rest and complete life admin, whilst also enjoying life, travel and be able to come back to work rested/fulfilled outside of work, which ultimately helps focus inside of those core work hours," Sutcliffe said via email.
In an Instagram post, Coltech said that not only are employees feeling the benefits of being more refreshed in the mornings, having reduced illness and a less stressed atmosphere, but it’s also improving their carbon footprint since there’s less time spent traveling to the office and using energy.
Niki Jorgensen, director of service operations at human resources service provider Insperity, noted similar factors driving companies to make the change to a reduced work week.
“The most significant benefit for a company to adopt the four-day workweek is the improvement of employee morale,” Jorgensen told Austonia via email. “Over the past two years, numerous studies have shown employees think a four-day workweek reduces stress and burnout. With reduced stress and burnout comes improved employee engagement.”
And while Austin is already drawing in plenty of workers who are in their early careers, a four-day week may help companies stand out to that bracket’s top talent even more.
“Companies can leverage this to make their company more appealing, especially to younger generations who strongly consider factors outside of compensation when choosing employment,” Jorgensen said.
She went on to offer a few tips for making a smooth transition to a four-day week like setting expectations and staggering coverage so that it’s still possible to see clients five days a week. Also, employers should be flexible. She says some employees may not be able to get 40 hours of work done in a shorter week due to responsibilities like childcare, so employers should consider how they can still accomplish their duties.
Before ditching the 40-hour workweek though, it can help to take a temperature check to see if an extra day off is the right fit for the workplace.
“Do not implement a flexible schedule such as the four-day workweek if business owners and managers cannot commit to the level of trust and flexibility needed to ensure the schedule’s success,” Jorgensen said.
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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
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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.
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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!
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