Austin – Water Boil Alert – What Does It All Mean?

Austin Water Advisory

OK – who else in Austin woke up with a text from their mom that said something to the effect of “WATER BOIL ALERT!1!” (I left that “1” in there because sometimes mom types fast when she’s concerned and there’s no time for autocorrect.)

“Boil water advisory?” What is that?

Excessive Rainfall

Turns out all the rainfall has wreaked havoc on the reservoir system of Central Texas.  You know how Lady Bird Lake looks like chocolate milk? Well, the churning up of all sorts of mud and debris in our waterways translates into less-than-ideal drinking water.  

We’ll break down a few FAQs for you here about the ol’ watering hole situation.

How often do “boil water” advisories happen?

This is the first that Austin has had (you can say you were “first!”).  But they’re not uncommon. If you’ve lived in other cities, you may have been through one. Fort Worth and Corpus Christi both had “boil water” notices in recent years.

What triggers a “boil water” advisory?

Any event that leads the managers of the water system to believe that bacteria could be in the water system.  This could be a break in the line, a loss of water pressure in the lines, or as in the case of Austin, an unusually high content of silt. (To be clear, as of this writing, there has been no actual bacteria detected in the water supply. Just the risk of it.)

What are the actual recommendations for this particular advisory?

  • Reduce water use as much as possible to ensure adequate supply for basic needs, fire protection, public health and safety.
  • Boil water intended for drinking. To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and for making ice should be boiled and cooled. The water should be brought to a rolling boil for three minutes.
  • In lieu of boiling water, use bottled water. And if you’re going to the store, wear a helmet (kidding). 
  • Businesses should not use drinking fountains or soda fountains that rely on tap water.

Should I Be Concerned if I Drank the Tap Water?

It’s very likely that you’ll be fine, but there are some things to watch out for. Contaminated water can contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites.  If ingested, these microbes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or illness. Infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems should be particularly careful, as these illnesses can be more severe in these populations.

Stay healthy out there, Central Texas. We at Remedy fully support the precautions our cities take to keep us safe, and we would recommend that you follow the guidelines. If by chance you do get sick, give us a call.  We’re here to help with information and diagnostic testing if needed.

Book an appointment today!