Council works to address lingering issues from winter storm

The February winter storm was one for the books and Austin city officials are now focusing on recovery, including fixing leaks and burst

"This event was unlike any other. According to the National Weather Service, this storm set new records for the lowest temperatures, the highest numbers of hours below freezing, and record snowfall levels. Our state power grid was minutes away from a statewide blackout," said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk.

RELATED: City of Austin website launched to help navigate winter storm repairs

"Austin remained below freezing for more than 164 consecutive hours, breaking the record by nearly two days for the longest freeze event in the area," said Juan Ortiz, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Officials revisited what exactly happened. Blackouts lasting for days resulted in failure at Ullrich, Austin's biggest water treatment plant.

"The first five days, things were operating pretty well, our biggest concern was actually wastewater. On Tuesday night into Wednesday is when we started to see water issues. Water use was exploding," said Greg Meszaros, director of Austin Water, who highlighted that the use was due to leaks and burst pipes.

RELATED: Austin looking at all legal options to prevent future crisis

That led to a boil water notice and left thousands in the city without water for days as crews worked to repair the leaks and burst pipes. Those efforts continue even now, mostly at apartment complexes.

"The number of leaks and burst pipes that fell apart during this extended freeze is just incredible," said Meszaros.


Thursday, the council voted to waive all residential permit and development fees for home repairs. They also extended the disaster declaration. In addition, they approved a resolution to take a look at how this may impact customer utility bills.

RELATED: Call center can help Texans fill out iSTAT winter storm damage survey

"As someone whose family grew up paycheck to paycheck and knowing other families are struggling and had to take time off, I really appreciate this being on our agenda today," said Mackenzie Kelly, councilmember for District 6.

Austin Water said there are hundreds of burst pipes still being fixed, proving just how long the full recovery for this crisis may take.


You can read a full list of the actions from the meeting here