Austin, Texas, Water Main Break Spills 100,000 Gallons of Sewage

Dec. 5, 2019

A water main break in Austin, Texas, spilled more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater into a dry tributary bed of Bull Creek.

More than 100,000 gallons of wastewater flowed into a dry tributary bed of Bull Creek in Austin, Texas after a 21 inch main break and sanitary sewage overflow, according to KXAN.  

The wastewater never actually made it into Bull Creek and crews are cleaning out what remains in the tributary bed, according to Austin Water Managing Engineer Kevin Koeller.

“Any place that there’s wastewater ponded, we will pump that out and put it back into the wastewater collection system,” said Koeller.

Austin Water does not have a timeline on when the park will reopen, reported KXAN. Cleanup and repairs could take a week or longer to mitigate the issue. 

Though the situation will not affect Austin’s drinking water, residents are advised to stay clear of the area in Great Hills Park.

“We actively look to repair pipes that have reached, before they’ve reached the end of their useful life,” Koeller said. “In this case, the pipe failed before that.”

The city’s concrete pipes usually have a life of about 50 years, reported KXAN. The pipe that broke was installed in the early 1980s, making it only 37 years old. 

“We actively clean and televise our sewer system, and we look in these areas, we televise over 2,000,000 linear feeds a year,” Koeller said. “We’re looking at similar pipes, similar age, in that area.”

Austin Water urged residents who use private drinking water supply wells located within half a mile of the overflow site to only use distilled or boiled water, according to KXAN.

A connection between this issue and a spill back in October that sent 25,000 gallons of raw sewage into Bull Creek has not be discovered.

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Cristina Tuser