Akins responds to citywide water contamination


Nathan Martinez

School officials bagged off drinking water fountains

Mylo Bissell, Editor-in-Chief

Akins students received a shock when they arrived at school and heard Associate Principal Manuel Garcia announce that the drinking water on campus wasn’t safe to drink.

The first announcement was short on detail, but Garcia said that the administration was working on a plan to handle the situation. A little after 10 a.m. Garcia came back on and established the plan to keep cases of water bottles in each classroom.

Students expressed confusion to their teachers about why the water was suddenly unsafe, making some teachers have to stop their regularly planned lessons to explain the cause of the situation.

The City of Austin and nearby areas were issued a boil water notice earlier that morning because of built-up silt and bacteria in the water.

A boil water notice is issued when the drinking water is contaminated by pathogens. To prevent ingestion of these pathogens water needs to be boiled and cooled before consumption, including cooking. This comes after unprecedented flooding in the Austin area, which has brought silt and mud into the water treatment center. The typical length of a boil water notice is 24 to 48 hours but can last longer based on conditions.

“This morning Akins purchased the cases of water distributed to classrooms,” Interim Principal Tina Salazar said.

Salazar said hand sanitizer dispensers were placed in all of the bathrooms because administrators were worried that the contaminated water could make students sick if they washed their hands with it.

“We’re better safe than sorry,” Salazar said.

We’re better safe than sorry.”

— Interim Principal Tina Salazar

Sophomore Kathryn Rangel said she was pleased with the administration’s response in being overly cautious.

“They took many precautions to try and keep us safe,” Rangel said.

Around campus, garbage bags have been taped over the water fountains to prevent students from drinking the water and some lunch lines have been shut down until they have the resources to make safe foods for students.

There is no official estimate of how long the boil water notice will be in place.



Monday Austin ISD update on boil water notice

The following notice was sent to Austin ISD families and staff after school on Monday:

Dear AISD families and staff,

We continue to monitor the City of Austin’s boil water notice and are taking safety precautions at our schools. As of right now, school is still scheduled as normal for tomorrow and we will update you if that changes.

Please know, today we took the following safety precautions on our campuses:

  • Drinking fountains were covered or closed so students did not use them.
  • Cafeteria menus were adjusted to include hot vegetables, and fruits such as apples and oranges. No salad bars were offered today.
  • Cafeteria managers followed boil instructions for safety.
  • Water was delivered to campuses and school staff supplied any student in need with water. Campuses accepted donations of bottled water.

The City of Austin is posting updates online or you can follow them on Twitter @AustinTexasGov or @AustinHSEM.

Austin ISD will continue posting information on our website about how the boil water notice impacts our school operations online, and we will also share on social media. Follow us on Twitter or visit our Facebook page.

Additionally, below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the boil water notice from the City of Austin:

What should I do if a boil water notice has been issued?

Do not drink the water without boiling it first. Bring all water to a rolling boil for at least three minutes, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, food preparation, and water for pets. Boiling kills harmful bacteria and other organisms in the water that may cause illness. You should throw away ice made during the time the notice was issued (freezing does not kill bacteria).

Is the water safe for washing dishes, laundry, and bathing?

The water is safe for washing dishes, but you should use hot, soapy water and rinse dishes in boiled water. There are no restrictions on doing laundry. The water is also safe for bathing.

How do I prepare food and baby formula?

Only use boiled or bottled water for cooking, making ice, washing fruits and vegetables, and making baby formula. If you must use water to make formula, use bottled water. If you don’t have bottled water, use water that has been rapidly boiled for at least three minutes.

How long will the need to boil water continue?

Customers should not stop boiling the water until they receive notice from Austin Water. Typically the need to boil water lasts for 24 to 48 hours, but can be longer. How long will depend on the conditions that caused the need to boil, how quickly the conditions are corrected, and how long it takes for laboratory results to confirm it is safe to return to normal water use. Austin Water will provide updates on the progress of corrective actions and how long the event is expected to last.

What do I need to do when the notice has been lifted?

Austin Water will notify you when it is no longer necessary to boil the water. You should flush your water system by running all cold water faucets in your home for at least one minute, cleaning automatic ice makers by making and discarding three batches of ice, and running water softeners through a regeneration cycle.

Why is the boil water notice important?

Inadequately treated water may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.