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New details on Austin water distribution plan with priority for those with disabilities or who can't leave home

Kelsey Bradshaw
Austin American-Statesman

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10:30 a.m. Saturday update: Austin and Travis County officials released more details Saturday about the distribution of pallets of water. City and county authorities are delivering water to Capital Metro and the Austin Disaster Relief Network. 

Water will be available for Cap Metro’s already existing Metro Access customers — Metro Access is a service for people whose disabilities prevent them from riding our other bus and rail services. The transportation agency has already contacted these individuals, Cara Jane Welch, an Austin-Travis County spokesperson told the American-Statesman. Additionally, Cap Metro's call center is mobilized for current Metro Access customers to call and arrange water delivery to their homes. Cap Metro anticipates that they can complete this today. Cap Metro currently has approximately 3,000 customers currently using Metro Access, and another approximately 3,300 customers who have qualified but have not used the service in the last 90 days, Welch said.

The Austin Disaster Relief Network has had "a number of people request water through their call center," Welch said. "They have identified the needs and households where the water will be delivered. They have mobilized their network of volunteers for delivery to people’s homes. Their call center is still taking calls, however, these resources are limited and truly available for people who are unable to leave their homes."

At this time, water resources are being distributed through partners who have already identified needs and will be reaching out to the people they serve, Welch said.

Austin-Travis County is currently working on plans to stand up distribution centers for the general public, Welch said.

8:30 p.m. Friday update: Austin officials Friday evening said they are distributing emergency supplies of water in a phased approach that prioritizes locations with the most critical needs, including shelters, warming centers and medical facilities. 

City officials said COVID-19 isolation facilities and first responders will also be included in the first phase of the water distribution plan, which started Friday.

Details about where the water will be available to the general public will be released Saturday, according to a Friday news release. 

"To get the supplies out as quickly as possible, a priority has been placed on serving critical needs first," officials said in a written statement Friday. 

The next phase of water distribution, expected to start sometime Saturday, will go toward seniors, those who have trouble with mobility and people with medical or special needs, officials said. 

Emergency officials will partner with other organizations, such as Capital Metro and the Austin Disaster Relief Network, during the second phase. 

Water distribution will be available to the public in the third and final phase, and is scheduled to start Sunday morning.

Officials said they will announce the locations of the water distribution sites on Saturday. 

"The goal is to have a Point of Distribution (POD) site within each City Council District and key locations in Travis County," officials said.

Earlier: Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said water distribution information is expected to be shared sometime Friday evening as trucks loaded with pallets of bottled water make their way to Austin, which faces widespread water outages.  

 "We're working with local and regional partners to set up safe, strategically located water distribution sites," Cronk said. 

Deliveries of up to 20 pallets of water are being delivered to hospitals, shelters, warming centers and to vulnerable populations or those with critical needs, Cronk said. 

The city purchased 1 million gallons of water from surrounding states. Trucks carrying that water are expected to arrive Friday night or on Saturday, Cronk said. 

News:Smithville to distribute free bottled water to residents Friday afternoon

Thirty-six pallets of water from FEMA will be brought in from Fort Worth to the Austin area, which remains under a boil water alert.

Distribution sites, which will be decided by identifying areas safe enough for residents to reach them, will be open from sunrise to sundown, Cronk said. The city anticipates being able to provide one case of water per vehicle. 

Residents who are able to purchase water, should do so, Cronk said.

'Catastrophic failure': Frustration builds as Austin water crisis lingers

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros did not have a firm timeline on when the city's drinking water or pipe system would be restored or when the boil water notice would end. But he expects water pressure to significantly improve over the next 48 hours.

He said getting water restored to places like hospitals is a priority. Clearing water for drinking could happen early next week, he said.

"I think this is all going to come together into early next week," Meszaros said. 

HAYS COUNTY

Monarch Utilities is setting up a bottled water distribution site at Home Depot, 3730 Dry Hole Rd. in Kyle, Saturday and Sunday starting at noon.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said Friday that the county has ordered 10 truckloads of water for places under boil-water notices, said the water is not expected to arrive until Tuesday.

In Hutto, the city said it has water on the way and will be posting distribution times and places on Saturday on the city's Facebook page. 

Cedar Park is offering a maximum of 20 gallons of free water per family per day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Buildings 3 and 4 at 450 Cypress Creek Road. People are asked to bring their own containers and to wear face masks.

Austin water outage:Director updates city on service restoration

Leander is offering free public water filling sites from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday but all water provided must be boiled. A maximum of 20 gallons is allowed per vehicle. The locations are at Akin Elementary, 3261 Barley Rd.; Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1800 Horizon Park Blvd.; and Rouse High School, 1222 Raider Way.

The city of Taylor will be giving out six bottles of water per vehicle from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the fire station at 200 Washburn Street. The city will also be giving out 20 gallons of non-potable water to each person from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Taylor Regional Park, 210 Carlos G Parker Blvd.

BASTROP COUNTY

The city of Bastrop on Friday distributed four pallets of bottled water to residents with medical needs, nursing homes, and apartment complexes and residents without water.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said he was expecting a shipment of water from the Texas Department of Emergency Management on Friday but the shipment never showed and was re-scheduled for Saturday. If the water shipment arrives Saturday, Pape said county commissioners and their crews will distribute the water in their precincts.

"The head of TDEM told me today that every community in the state is asking for bottled water, so the demand is tremendous," Pape said. "We are getting it here and getting it distributed as soon as possible."