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Austin Water releases internal investigation into days-long boil water notice

The issues stemmed from the operations staff, known as the "Orange Team" at Austin Water.

AUSTIN, Texas — After the City of Austin's third boil water notice since 2018, Austin Water has released its full internal investigation into what went wrong before the city was placed in its most recent three-day boil water notice last month.

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.

The water quality issues started when crews at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant were working to bring a basin online, which is when the issue sparked. An internal operational issue "increased the addition of processed solids, mostly comprised of lime, during the treatment process. This is what resulted in turbidity that exceeded regulatory requirements," according to the memo.

In response to those issues, the Austin Water director said steps have been taken to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"Work completed or underway includes increased remote monitoring of plant processes, timer-based basin seeding only, enhanced shift pass-down communication procedures, filter control logic review and improvements, external alarm testing, and updated standard operating procedures, guides, and training," the memo said.

You can read the full memo online.

Austin Water staff is set to discuss their findings at a March 31 meeting with the Austin Water Oversight Committee.

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

The Austin City Council has also approved an independent, external audit of Austin Water following the boil water notice.  


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