Austin Fire to offer water to residents in need

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Residents with frozen pipes or other water issues will be able to get some water from the Austin Fire Department.

Fire Chief James McCoy asked and received approval from the Austin City Council during the council’s meeting Monday night to give water to residents whose homes have water-related issues as a result of this winter’s brutally cold temperatures. McCoy said the idea is to have residents get water for basic needs like flushing toilets and showering, among other things.

Austin Utilities warned last week that a higher than normal number of people are dealing with frozen pipes, as this winter has seen nearly 50 days with temperatures at or below zero since Dec. 1, 2013.

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In a typical year, Austin Utilities General Manager Mark Nibaur said Utilities hears of fewer than a dozen reported cases of pipes freezing — often just a handful. This year, Nibaur and Utilities have heard of more than 40 — and that’s just the ones reported.

The cause is the abnormally freezing temperatures that have hit the region over the past two months, which have caused the ground to freeze even deeper than normal.

McCoy said while there’s no limit on how much water someone can take, the Fire Department would give a “reasonable amount” of water to residents in need, rather than give hundreds or thousands of gallons of water.