AUSTIN, Texas - Tens of thousands of people in Austin are without water after the city's largest water treatment plant lost power.
Although the plant is now back online, Austin Water said it will take several days before the city's water is fully restored.
Austin Water director Greg Meszaros was unable to provide a specific timeline for when water would be returned to all customers, but city officials said they have purchased water that will be distributed to the community once it arrives.
That shipment is coming from out of state and will "take time" to be delivered according to the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Juan Ortiz.
In the meantime, it's neighbor helping neighbor at Meanwhile Brewing Company. The staff there spent Thursday filling up jugs, kegs, and other containers free of charge to anyone who could get there safely.
"If anybody knows anybody that needs water, we still got some," said Nao Ohdera, director of brewing operations at Meanwhile Brewing Company.
"We’ve been giving water to neighborhood people, we’ve given it out to some children’s hospitals and people delivering it to other people in need," he added.
After Austin Water customers found their faucets running dry, Meanwhile Brewing decided sharing their supply was the right thing to do. "We have about 3,000 gallons of purified water in our tanks, that we usually use for brewing, but we have all that. We don’t have any more running water at the brewery, but that’s good to go, so we were like let’s get it out to people," Ohdera said.
Water bottles are already scarce at stores in the city and so far no city-led water distribution sites are running. As for the water treatment plant which got Austin into this mess to begin with, no immediate help there either.
"It’s going to be a multi-day process to restore pressure and service and then clear the system for use," said Meszaros.
Thanks to the freezing cold temperatures, Austin Water officials said pipe leaks, line breaks and dripping faucets almost completely drained the water system. Once the city's largest treatment plant lost power, even those who still had water couldn't drink from the tap without boiling it first and, even then, they're asked to conserve.
"Please be very thoughtful. The water you use is water that another customer may not have," Meszaros said.
Turning the water back on at hospitals and health care centers is the city's first priority, as is the distribution to more vulnerable communities.
For now, Meszaros' best advice to customers is to "reach out to friends and neighbors and others that may have water service and they can maybe fill up jugs or other sources of water for them to boil or to use."
Thankfully, Meanwhile Brewery is one step ahead. "Bring your own container and please be safe getting here," Ohdera said.
The brewery will continue to give away free water as long as they still have a supply. They plan to be open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday, but encourage people to check with them before hitting the roads and be careful driving.
Besides Meanwhile here's a list of other breweries and businesses offering water to those who need it. People who decide to go are reminded to bring their own containers.
- Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches from 12-5
- Black Star Co-op plans to have water available but no times have been given
- Circle Brewing from 12-430
- Adelbert's from 12-6
- St. Elmo Brewing Company from 12-5
- Prep To Your Door located at 507 Calles St. #100 from 10-6
- Hopsqaud Brewing from 12-5
- Natural Grocers is offering free water from its reverse osmosis water filtration machine through February 23.
- RAIN Water is distributing bottles of water (you're asked to bring a reusable bag) at The Meteor on South Congress from 10-2 and Gabriela's Downtown on East 7th from 1-230.
- Red Horn Brew in Cedar Park from 12-5
- Whitestone Brewery in Cedar Park from 12-7