Interim leader and third-party audit on tap for utility
By Lina Fisher, 11:30AM, Fri. Feb. 11, 2022
Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros at the Feb. 5 press conference following the boil-water notice (Image via ATXN)
In a memo this morning, City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros is resigning from his post following the most recent citywide boil-water notice, the third in four years.
Meszaros “has spent nearly 40 years in the profession,” and 15 as director of Austin’s city-owned water system. The memo cites focusing on “family and new horizons” as the reason for Meszaros’ departure, and continues, “The past couple years have been difficult for many in public service, especially those on the front lines of critical service delivery departments. Whether it was addressing record droughts, guiding our city through historic flooding and other weather events, or determining how best to cope with the emergence of zebra mussels in our lake system, Director Meszaros has always led with a true spirit of transparency and honesty.”
Cronk and Meszaros will work to appoint an interim director and a primary point of contact for the after-action review of last week’s boil-water notice, and Cronk will also identify an independent third party to “facilitate the review and help identify recommendations and areas of improvement going forward.” Council has set a special called meeting in response to the snafu for Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 9am, which Meszaros will still attend in his post as director. In a post Thursday to the council message board, Council Member Paige Ellis added that “Tuesday will not be the end of the conversation as the Austin Water Oversight Committee chaired by CM [Vanessa] Fuentes will also be discussing these events moving forward, and [Mayor Pro Tem Alison] Alter is bringing a resolution regarding an external audit, both of which will allow opportunity for public feedback.”
In his memo, Cronk acknowledges “how important it is to restore and nurture the public’s faith and trust during this transition. We are committed to doing all that is necessary to regain that trust.” In a separate press release from Austin Water on Friday, Meszaros said, “I share everyone’s frustration and am deeply disappointed that this event occurred. Knowing how it has affected this community and our organization weighs heavily on me. … Because there is an ongoing investigation, though, we will no doubt have more questions and answers in the coming weeks.”
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