Austin's water-boiling crisis may end Sunday afternoon or evening

"The Llano River crested at 40 feet last week.  We saw an increase of 30 feet in 48 hours of Lake Travis.  All that water came to our system and really overwhelmed it," said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk Friday morning. Cronk summed up how we got here during a Friday morning press conference at Roy G. Guerrero Park.  

It's one of the sites where you can pick up bottled water to deal with the ongoing boil water notice.  

Just "please recycle," the city asks. "Our water system is recovering nicely.  We're seeing raw quality is improved substantially and continuing to improve.  Our plant capacities are up, our water quality, our drinking water quality is really good," said Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros. 

Meszaros says they're working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to get this crisis behind us. "We're in the process of gathering water samples across our system and at our tanks and we'll be testing that through the weekend and submitting that to TCEQ.  And pending those results, again, we're expecting that we're going to lift the boil water notice on Sunday probably sometime in the afternoon to early evening," he said.  

Meanwhile, businesses are struggling. "We've been shut down ever since the notice came out and the only thing that's open is the vacuums," said car wash-owner Ed Zibilski.

And vacuums don't pay the bills according to Zibilski.  

He's been in the car wash business for more than four decades.  

There are cones in the bays at his "King of the Road" car wash on Cameron Road, letting customers know car-washing is off limits because of the emergency water restrictions that go along with the boil water notice. "Over the years we actually...the car wash operators in Austin were concerned about not having enough water and water restrictions during the drought spells and we never shut down but it's sort of ironic that we're shutting down because we have too much water," Zibilski said.

Zibilski wishes the city would do something for the businesses who have made sacrifices this week.

"Well it has hurt the bottom line.  We're talking about thousands of dollars," Zibilski said.

Some residential Austin Water customers have a similar concern.

I asked Meszaros if Austin Water customers would be getting any sort of break on their bills because of all of this. "Well we haven't really digested that or anything yet so I mean I guess we'll have to think through that," Meszaros said.

As for the future of the City's treatment plants.

"In the weeks and months ahead we'll be doing a very detailed after-action review and analysis of what happened and what our recommendations will be to improve the resiliency of our system so that the next time an event like this were to happen that we would be better prepared and better able to weather through it," Meszaros said.