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Water and power update: Austin begins passing out water to the general public

Cases of water sent to Austin from FEMA. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

This story has been updated as of Sunday at 10 p.m.

The city of Austin is continuing with its efforts to make sure residents have drinking water with 10 distribution sites passing out water into the start of the week as a boiling water notice is still in effect after the winter freeze.

Monday's distribution will start at 9 a.m. and go until 5 p.m., or while supplies last. The 10 distribution locations include:

(City of Austin/Twitter)

Each site will hand out one case of water per car on a first-come, first-serve basis. Because supplies are still limited, the city recommends that residents only get free water if they cannot boil or purchase water elsewhere. In order to move quickly, the city requests that residents have their trunks open or doors unlocked so workers can swiftly provide water to each car.

This is the final phase of the three-part distribution effort put in place by the city of Austin. It received 1 million gallons of water from FEMA amid a water shortage and boil water notice for local residents.

On Friday, critical areas including warming shelters, COVID-19 isolation sites, and first responder locations were prioritized for distribution. By Saturday, the city had partnered with community programs such as Capital Metro to begin expanding to vulnerable populations including seniors and those with certain medical needs, and Saturday night saw the general public receive its first cases of water.

As of Sunday at 5 p.m., the city had passed out 17,136 cases of water to critical facilities, 14,448 cases to vulnerable populations through city partners and 19,068 cases to the general public.

Water Update

While the city scrambles to bring drinking water to the millions of Austinites with little to no running water, Austin Water has made some improvements to its utility services. On Sunday at 7 p.m., the department announced that storage in reservoirs had jumped to 90 million gallons. A minimum of 100 million gallons are needed in storage to resume normal operations.

Although no region has seen its normal water supply come back, Austin Water said that two zones, the South and Northwest A regions, had climbed from Red (Water Outage) to Orange (Low Pressure). Five of the 9 water utility regions still have no running water.

The citywide boil-water notice is still in effect and will be for the next several days as the city samples water and ensures the supply is drinkable and safe.

Because water is still very limited, Travis County Judge Andy Brown has issued an order prohibiting businesses from providing car washing services around the county. Austin Water has also announced mandatory water restrictions on customers, including washing cars at home. Customers should not waste the scarce available water on irrigation or irrigation equipment, washing pavement or other services, adding water to a pool or spa, conducting foundation watering, or operating a fountain or pond if it is not needed to preserve aquaculture.

Anyone can report violations of these restrictions to Austin 311.

Power Update

While a lack of water is still affecting millions of Austinites, power outage issues have nearly been wiped out by Austin Energy.

As of Sunday night, the department had narrowed down to less than 25 customers without power with only one active outage.


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