Friday, November 19, 2021

Austin Water Prepares for Winter at Water Treatment Plants

With the winter season approaching, Austin Water has completed important repairs and continues to take steps to prepare its three water treatment plants for potential freezing temperatures.

Drawing from recommendations in the Austin Water Winter Storm Uri After Action Report, Austin Water staff and contractors have completed many winterization actions, including:
  • Water treatment plants that sustained storm damage during Winter Storm Uri such as broken pipes, valves, basins, and impacts to chemical feed systems have been repaired. Insulation to protect exposed piping has also been installed at these facilities.
  • Winter weather supplies are on hand at all water treatment plants to assist with transportation challenges during icy conditions. These supplies are ready-to-go, and include heaters, sand, deicing fluid and other supplies.
  • Safety supplies are also in place, including boot spikes for walking on icy surfaces and tire chains for vehicles, as well as cots, ready to eat meals, and other supplies for staff who will remain at the plants around the clock during extreme weather events.
  • Austin Water operators have modified their winter maintenance schedule so that water treatment plants are capable of increasing water production quickly if customer demand sharply increases due to dripping faucets or leaks due to burst pipes, such as those experienced during Winter Storm Uri.
Austin Water is also working to improve power resiliency with construction underway on a new electrical substation at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant and construction nearing completion on power distribution upgrades at Davis Water Treatment Plant.

Since hauling lime residuals (or "sludge") away from the water treatment plants during icy conditions is challenging, Austin Water is increasing its sludge storage and disposal capabilities at all three plants. Sludge, which contains silt and organic matter removed from the water and lime used to soften water, is a byproduct of the water treatment process.

"Austin Water crews have worked diligently to repair damage at our water treatment plants and strengthen our readiness for the winter season," said Stephanie Sue, Austin Water Operations Manager. "These efforts began immediately following Winter Storm Uri and continue to be prioritized. We have learned from this year's event and have taken action to be ready for future extreme weather."

Join us for a video tour of winterization efforts at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant.

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