Antoinette Cervantes lugs an empty cooler from her apartment in North Austin several times a day. She walks it down a flight of stairs, across a parking lot and through a gate toward the pool, passing lounge chairs and tables on her way.
When she gets to a hose, Cervantes plops the cooler down. It takes about two minutes to fill with water — water she now measures in terms of flushes.
“It takes about half this cooler to fill up the tank just to flush the toilet,” she says. One cooler = two flushes. She hauls the blue Yeti cooler, now much heavier, back across the parking lot, up the flight of stairs and into her apartment.
“This, for the foreseeable future, is what we’re doing,” Cervantes says.
Cervantes and many of her neighbors at Summit at Hyde Park have been without running water since last Tuesday. In an email shared with KUT, the property management company said it couldn’t say when water would be restored, because parts needed for repairs were on backorder.
Austin Water restored service to all its customers Monday, after many had been without running water for days. Freezing temperatures last week damaged pipes, and leaks drained the city’s water reserve; a power outage at a water-treatment facility compounded the issue.
But while the city’s water supply is back up and running — and safe to drink — homeowners and apartment managers have begun a crucial assessment: Is there a leak? If yes, many are learning a fix may be out of reach for now, with demand for plumbers soaring and parts needed for repairs in short supply.
Damage seems to be most widespread at apartment complexes, where one cracked pipe means an entire building is without water. The result is that some renters are skimming pools for water, depending on a network of aid groups for water deliveries and even leaving their homes altogether.