Have questions about Austin’s citywide boil water notice? We have answers.

Megan Menchaca

A citywide boil water notice has been issued for the first time in the history of the Austin water utility. Austin Water is advising customers to boil water for three minutes before consuming it.

Why do I need to boil the water?

After historic flooding in Central Texas, the water supply is now full of debris, silt and mud, and requires extended filtration by the city. These conditions are making it difficult for the water plant to filter the volume of water needed for the entire city.

Although there is no evidence of bacterial infiltration, Austin Water is advising residents to boil the water to ensure that it is safe to drink until further notice.

How long should I wait before consuming city water?

Eric Carter, the Travis County emergency management coordinator, said Tuesday morning that the boil notice could last 10-14 days. People should not stop boiling the water until they receive notice from the city.

Can I drink the water from the campus water fountains?

No. Jimmy Johnson, assistant vice president for campus safety, said in a campus-wide email Monday morning that people should not drink from the campus sinks, water fountains or showers.

Can I drink the water if I use a water filter?

No. Kitchen and household filters will not filter out all of the particles in the water. All water must be boiled for at least three minutes before consumption.

Officials are advising residents not to consume any water that has not been boiled for at least three minutes, including filtered water and ice prepared in the fridge.

Can I still take a shower?

Yes. Austin Water said it is okay to shower, do laundry and wash your hands. However, they are advising Austin residents to boil water when drinking, cooking and preparing water for your pets. Ice makers are also affected, and should be turned off.

The water can also be used to wash dishes in hot, soapy water and to rinse them in boiled water. Dishwashers are safe to use.

How do I boil water in the residence halls?

University Housing and Dining advised residents on Twitter to boil water in a microwave for three minutes at a rolling boil.

UHD will be also providing bottled water to customers in the on-campus dining halls, and the University is developing a plan to provide bottled water at stations on campus.

What will I need to do after the notice is lifted?

After the notice is lifted, Austin Water said residents should run cold water faucets for at least a minute and clean their automatic ice makers.

For more information, read Austin Water’s press release here.