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Austin Water has restored service to residents, but broken pipes remain a big issue

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 by Marisa Charpentier, KUT

Areas of Northwest and Southwest Austin that are still under a boil-water notice could be in the clear by Tuesday afternoon, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said at a news conference Monday.

“We have collected samples in areas yet to be lifted from the boil-water notice,” he said. If samples come back clear, Austin Water should be able to lift the boil notice Tuesday afternoon.

Water service and pressure have been restored to all customers, Meszaros said, adding that the water-treatment plants are running well and producing “abundant” amounts of water.

There are still isolated areas of customers who don’t have water, however. Those outages are likely due to water main breaks caused by the freeze, he said. Water must be turned off to make repairs at apartment complexes that have had pipes burst, for example.

“The biggest remaining task we have in the recovery of the water system is repairing water main breaks,” Meszaros said, adding there were more than 100 water main breaks and likely tens of thousands of private breaks at homes and businesses.

“I think as we look back on this event, we’re going to find that it was the preponderance of all of these public and private breaks that was really the main cause of our system draining out of water,” he said.

He said crews are working 24 hours a day to get everything fixed.

Local officials are continuing to distribute cases of water to residents who lack safe drinking water.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown told KUT Monday that his biggest concern is reaching people who need water but don’t know how to get help.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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