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City council votes to hire more people to support Austin Water department after boil water notice

It's all part of an effort to increase support for the drinking water treatment plant operations, the city council agenda stated.

AUSTIN, Texas — After a days-long boil water notice was issued months ago, leaders later said a number of missteps led the City to take the precautionary measure. As leaders discussed those missteps, Austin Water's management also noted that the department is understaffed and stretched thin. 

In an effort to bring more support to Austin Water, Austin City Council has voted to fund and post new positions for the struggling department. Councilmembers voted to amend the budget to increase operating expenditures by $1.4 million and increase the number of positions at Austin Water by 16 full-time jobs.

It's all part of an effort to increase support for the drinking water treatment plant operations, the city council agenda stated.

The boil water notice lasted three days in early February. It was the third boil water notice the city was placed under in four years, which one expert said is not normal for a city the size of Austin. 

According to a memo dated March 29, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said staffers did not appropriately respond to deteriorating plant conditions and failed to reach out to their chain of command to communicate worsening water quality conditions. The issues stemmed from the operations staff known as the "Orange Team" at Austin Water.

Shortly after the boil water notice, three employees were placed on leave and Austin Water's director resigned as the investigation continues. Robert Goode will step into the role in April after Meszaros officially steps down. 


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