Austin Water providing free supplies to prepare for winter weather

There were a variety of variables that caused the February catastrophe.

"There were days on end of freezing temperatures. That was certainly the longest duration that Central Texas has ever experienced," said Randi Jenkins, assistant director of customer experience for Austin Water.

That mixed with infrastructure not built for long, cold winters, created a recipe for disaster.

"The number of leaks and burst pipes that fell apart during this extended freeze is just incredible," Austin Water's director Greg Meszaros said in February.

"We ran out of water. With all the leaks and breaks in the system, our storage tanks depleted," said Jenkins.

Austin Water customers went without water for days. Austin Water said if a similar storm were to strike again, they'd be ready. "We've winterized out treatment plants to make sure we are prepared," said Jenkins.

Jenkins said they also are making sure the plant staff has needed chemicals on hand, in case trucks have issues with bad roads. They have even provided spike boots for staff, and tire chains to get critical chemicals transported to plants. 

They are doing this on their end, but they say they also want customers to do their part to prepare. For the next month, they will be offering supplies to help with that, like free meter keys and hose bib covers.

"Your hose bib that you would turn on and off on the outside, you would disconnect your water hoses from it, put this over and then slide it through and it locks in place. It protects it from cold air, Arctic blasts," said Jenkins.

The meter key looks something like a crow bar, but it is what you'd use to shut off your water in the event of a burst pipe or threat of one. "During last year's winter storm there were over 30,000 requests for shutting off water service. We certainly didn't have enough staff and trucks to get to all 30,000," she said.

Something as simple as tools like these can help ease minds, and make it easier to get through a cold winter. For a demonstration on shutting off your water using the meter key, watch this video

Supply pickup is available at these City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers:

North branch:           
8716 Research Blvd., Suite 115
Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
South branch:          
1901 W. William Cannon Dr. Suite 100
Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Which Texas power plants have complied with new winterization rules?
TxDOT Austin shares preparations ahead of winter season
Auditors: Austin was not prepared to handle February winter storm
Austin was disorganized, unprepared for winter storm, says city auditor
SUBSCRIBE: Daily Newsletter | YouTube
FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter