by Mayor Dale Ross
Addressing the need to provide more water for residents and businesses in our fast-growing region is an important responsibility of the City. We have a three-pronged approach to respond to that demand. First, we have adopted irrigation schedules, water rates, and rebates to encourage smart water use. Second, we have entered into agreements to secure the water we need for the future. Third, we are expanding treatment, storage, and distribution capacity of our system to better serve a growing number of customers. Here is a deeper dive into the steps the City is taking to meet current and future water needs.
Two-day watering schedule
Last month, City Council approved new rules related to outdoor water use. The change, which goes into effect May 8, means that the two-day watering schedule is now the permanent year-round schedule. The schedule for irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers is based on the last digit of the customer street address.
If your house number ends in 1, 5, 9 you may water Tuesday and/or Feriday. Address ends in 2, 4, 6, 8 water Wednesday and/or Saturday. Address ends in 0, 3, 7 may water Thursday and/or Sunday.
This two-day schedule spreads watering over six days each week in order to balance demand on the water system. Irrigation is still not permitted on Monday, which is used as a recovery and maintenance day for the system. Watering with an irrigation system or hose-end sprinkler should not be done between the hours of noon to 7 p.m. each day. Using a hand-held hose or bucket, vehicle washing, or filling a swimming pool can be any day and at any time. Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines.
The City offers three new rebates for customers encouraging smart water use. Customers can receive up to $150 in rebates for the following programs: changing their irrigation system from a spray system to a drip system, installing a wi-fi enabled “smart” controller to help irrigation systems run more efficiently, and up to $150 in rebate for converting spray nozzles to multi-stream nozzles. Visit gus.georgetown.org/water/rebate for details.
Water rates are tiered so that as water use increases, rates also increase. The monthly rate per thousand gallons is $1.75 for up to 10,000 gallons of water. At 11,000 gallons, the rate increases to $2.40 per thousand gallons. And then $4.00 per thousand at 21,000 gallons, $6.50 per thousand at 41,000 gallons, and $8.50 per thousand at 61,000 gallons. The higher rates for the biggest water use levels reflect the cost to build plant, storage, and distribution system capacity that is required to meet such demand.
The second strategy for responding to water use is to ensure an adequate supply of raw water. Georgetown’s water supply comes from groundwater wells and surface water in Lake Georgetown and Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Water from Stillhouse Hollow Lake is pumped to Lake Georgetown through a pipeline. In addition, the utility has an agreement with the City of Round Rock that allows Georgetown to purchase water exceeding their system needs through a connection between the two cities. We are working on similar agreements with Leander and Liberty Hill to enhance system resilience.
The current projection, given population growth, is that these water sources will meet demand through 2042. To extend the City’s current water supply to meet demand through 2053, we need to reduce overall demand by 15 percent. Meeting that goal involves water conservation measures and innovative water management strategies.
Water system capacity
The third strategy to provide more water for use is to expand water treatment, distribution, and storage capacity. The goal of the water utility is to deliver this infrastructure when it is needed so that customers pay for these projects only when they are required to meet demand. Some of the major improvements recently completed include the 2 million gallon Cedar Breaks tank (2017), the 2 million gallon Sun City tank (2019), the 3 million gallon Domel pump station (2018), and the Pastor pump station expansion (2018).
Water system improvements currently underway include a 3 million gallon Braun tank on west Highway 29, expansion of the intake structure at the Lake Water Treatment plant, a 30-inch water line along Ronald Reagan Boulevard, and a 24-inch water line on DB Wood Road. In addition, the City is in the design and permitting process to build a new water treatment plant on south shore of Lake Georgetown.
These expansions to our water treatment, distribution, and storage system are an important way that the City is working to meet the needs of population growth in our area. We will continue to explore options for new water supply and ways to extend our current supply. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the sensible use of our shared resource and in guaranteeing that we have the water we need for the next generation here in Georgetown.