Austin — Austin Water is urging people to reduce water usage until further notice following floodgate operations at Highland Lakes dams this week.
Austin Water officials sent out a notice Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21. They said the historic floods brought in debris, silt and mud, which is making it take longer to filter and treat the water and remove the contaminants.
Austin Water customers are asked to stop outdoor watering completely, postpone clothes washing and dishwashing, and take shorter showers. To ensure water for residents and emergency services, Austin water is asking all customers to minimize water use until further notice.
Water treatment plants are still able to deliver safe drinking water to homes and businesses.
According to the notice, lake water cloudiness has increased by at least 100 times the typical condition of Highland Lakes.
At a press conference Sunday, Director of Austin Water Greg Meszaros said that due to the poor water quality, they are having to cycle closures for their various facilities for cleaning. Because those facilities are of varying sizes, when one is closed for cleaning it could mean Austin Water’s capacity could be decreased by a third or even by half.
Msezaros said that this is an “unprecedented” level of river water quality upset. He said engineers who have been working with Austin Water for up to 40 years have said they have never seen an event like this. He said crews are working 24 hours a day cleaning the facilities.
Austin Water could not give an estimate on how long the request for restrictions will last. Meszaros said that they are now four days in and there’s no sign that water quality has improved.