Don’t Drink That Water! Vote for Prop K Instead?

Council member pushes efficiency audit after boil notice

Now that our aquapocalypse is over (boil water at your leisure!), there's no better time to politicize an issue that was handled relatively well by city officials. That's the plan for outgoing Council Member Ellen Troxclair and various backers of the Prop K "efficiency audit" that many suspect would anticipate a push to privatize city utilities.

On Thursday, Oct. 25, with a boil-water notice still in effect, Troxclair proposed a resolution requiring Austin Water staff to report to Council within a month of the notice being lifted (as it was the following Sunday) on why it happened, "what went right, what went wrong," and how the city can better prepare for the future. (We already know why: Highland Lakes flooding carried large amounts of soil and debris into our treatment plants, straining the drinking water supply.) CMs Leslie Pool and Alison Alter signed on, but Troxclair failed to attract a fourth co-sponsor, preventing the issue from landing on this week's Council agenda; Ann Kitchen, echoed by Pio Renteria and Jimmy Flannigan, wrote on the Council message board that "the final report may benefit with some additional time to allow the event to more fully conclude and provide staff some time to ensure systems are safe and back to normal for the public." Troxclair then offered to bring the resolution forward at the Nov. 15 meeting. (It's notable that this Council breakdown reflects the mayor's race, Laura Morrison having been at least mildly critical of Steve Adler's performance during the crisis.)

Troxclair did thank utility staff for their work, but her graciousness ended there. "They knew by the end of last week, when the water plant was slowing down, that they had a major problem on their hands," Troxclair told The Texas Monitor last week. "They either knew or should have known." She added that the public's "frustration" with the water utility is "very high right now," which seems questionable, and that the city's "lack of foresight" is another reason to vote for Prop K.

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November 2018 election, Prop K, Ellen Troxclair, Austin Water

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