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After a day of uncertainty, Austin officials say the city’s boil-water notice could be lifted by as soon as this weekend.
Initially this morning, Travis County officials said they were prepared for the boil-water notice to last 10 to 14 days. But Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said today that, based on current estimates, the notice wouldn’t last more than a “handful of days” and that it could be lifted as soon as this weekend.
In a press conference this afternoon, Meszaros and Austin Mayor Steve Adler suggested Austin Water could lift the notice as soon as Sunday. The utility has strugged to treat floodwaters from Lake Travis after historic flooding, and is emphasizing Austinites reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
Earlier this morning, Eric Carter, Travis County’s emergency management coordinator, told the Travis County Commissioners Court that lakes Travis and Austin have seen levels of silt that are five times higher than Austin’s water utility has ever seen.
Carter urged Austin Water customers to boil water before using it.
“We aren’t necessarily at a water shortage, we just have a situation where we have to take an extra step to make sure our water is safe for us to drink,” he said.
At a press conference this afternoon, Meszaros urged customers to use less water, as its three water-treatment plants are still rebounding after flooding in the Hill Country along the Llano River made its way downstream into the Colorado River. The water utility can currently treat 105 milllion gallons of water a day, but customers are using 120 million gallons per day.
Meszaros said those three plants are increasing production and that the utility is “caustiously optimistic,” but that possible rains over the Austin area could complicate the calculus of ending the utility’s first and only citwide boil-water notice.
Austin Water says it’s okay to use water for showering, laundry and washing hands but advises boiling water for drinking, cooking and making ice. Dishes should be washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed with boiled water. Bottled or boiled water should be used for baby formula and given to pets.
The Austin area and much of Central Texas is under a flash flood watch through Wednesday.
This story has been updated.