BCRUA pipeline repair, shutdown expected in March
Starting Wednesday, Feb. 28, contractors for the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority (BCRUA) will begin replacing approximately 1,400 feet of 36-inch underwater pipeline used to convey raw water from Lake Travis to the BCRUA water treatment plant, Leander's primary source for potable water. On Thursday, Jan. 18, Leander City Council received a presentation on the planned repair.
Phase 4 measures start Feb. 12
Project construction will require a shutdown of the BCRUA water treatment plant, thereby reducing Leander's overall capacity of potable water from roughly 24 million gallons per day (MGD) to 9 MGD. In order to curtail water demands and consumption, Leander will transition to Phase 4 emergency conservation measures starting Monday, Feb. 12, in an effort to reduce all nonessential water uses.
All Leander water customers should turn off irrigation systems and limit all nonessential water uses. Phase 4 measures are designed to limit the daily water demand to no more than 50 percent capacity. Reduction to no more than 9 MGD is required from the start of repairs on Feb. 28 through its completion by the first week of April. In January, Leander water customers averaged 8.6 MGD with a maximum usage of 11.7 MGD recorded on Jan. 16.
Council approves resolution supporting Phase 4 actions
02/01/2024 — Leander City Council approved a resolution Thursday, Feb. 1, in support of emergency water conservation measures related to the BCRUA pipeline replacement project. Several temporary actions listed in the resolution will be implemented in conjunction with the City's Phase 4 transition starting Feb. 12. Some actions include ceasing issuance of new bulk meters, irrigation permits, and pool permits.
Read more about Phase 4, BCRUA pipeline history, and frequently asked questions below.
The anticipated shutdown of the BCRUA water treatment plant will prompt the City of Leander to initiate Phase 4 water conservation measures starting Monday, Feb. 12, and is expected to continue until repairs are complete, which is estimated by the first week of April. Phase 4 emergency response measures are part of the City's overall water conservation and drought contingency plan.
Phase 4 conservation measures restrict any or all nonessential uses of water. Everyday water uses like drinking, bathing, and washing clothes and dishes are still allowed. However, all other nonessential water uses should be reduced as much as possible to keep water demands low.
Customer actions during Phase 4:
- Turn off irrigation systems completely.
- Check faucets, pipes, and appliances for potential water leaks and contact a licensed plumber to repair immediately.
- Minimize total water usage to the greatest extent possible.
City actions during Phase 4:
- Shut off irrigation systems at City-owned facilities.
- Read meters as often as needed to ensure program compliance for the benefit of all customers.
- Minimize flushing for dead-end mains.
- Prohibit applications for new, additional, expanded, or larger water service connections, meters, service lines, pipeline extensions, mains, or water service facilities unless a project is deemed necessary to facilitate system repair.
Phase 4 enforcement
Each violation that occurs within a 12-month period during Phase 4 conservation measures may be enforced pursuant to the following:
|Second and subsequent offense(s)
|$1,000 and emergency disconnection*
|$1,000 and emergency disconnection*
* Water service may be disconnected under the emergency disconnection procedures set forth in code of ordinances Sec. 13.09.014(d)(1) for a second violation that occurs during Phase 4 conservation.
On Dec. 19, 2020, a separation of 36-inch BCRUA underwater pipeline near an intake barge in Lake Travis prompted a shutdown of the BCRUA water treatment plant. Initial repairs were completed April 29, 2021.
In Aug. 2022, during routine monitoring, BCRUA contractors discovered a new leak in the previously repaired section of 36-inch underwater pipeline. Emergency repair work started Sept. 21 and completed Oct. 5. During that time, Leander advanced to Phase 4 emergency conservation measures as engineers conducted a controlled shutdown of the BCRUA water treatment plant to facilitate repairs.
On Feb. 14, 2023, during routine monitoring, BCRUA officials noticed a reduction in water pressure at the BCRUA raw water intake barge and determined that a ball joint connecting to the previously repaired section of 36-inch raw water pipeline had failed. Repairs and plant restoration were completed in March.
On May 4, 2023, the City of Leander authorized BCRUA to purchase 1,400 feet of new 36-inch ductile-iron pipe. Replacement of the underwater pipe section is scheduled to begin Feb. 28, 2024. Funding for the $6.7 million project is provided in part by BCRUA partner cities Leander, Cedar Park, Round Rock, and from Williamson County.
How does Leander receive its water?
Leander drinking water comes from the surface water in Lake Travis, which is located approximately 13 miles northwest of Austin on the Colorado River in Travis County. Lake Travis water is managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) for flood control, water supply, electrical power generation and recreational purposes.
Leander water received from Lake Travis is treated at two facilities, which include the City-owned Sandy Creek water treatment plant and the regional Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority (BCRUA) water treatment plant. Today, Leander’s total water treatment capacity is roughly 24 million gallons per day (MGD), which combines 15 MGD from BCRUA and 9 MGD from Sandy Creek.
What does "Phase 4" mean?
The City separates water conservation measures into four phases of escalation based on certain water supply conditions, which are defined in our Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Plan. Phase 1 is the least restrictive in terms of water conservation goals and actions, and Phase 4 is the most restrictive.
Water uses regulated or prohibited under each phase are considered to be nonessential, and continuation of such uses during Phase 4 emergency water supply conditions may subject offenders to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
Why not escalate to Phase 3?
Since Phase 3 provides an exception for hand-held outdoor watering, it was not deemed restrictive enough to minimize water uses during the repair. Once Leander stops receiving water from the BCRUA as of Wednesday, Feb. 28, our operating supply of drinking water will be temporarily reduced from 24 MGD to 9 MGD. Water demands must be strictly limited to ensure that total consumption does not exceed 9 MGD at any time.
What does "MGD" mean?
MGD or "million gallons per day" is a measurement of water flow frequently used in measurement of water consumption. One MGD equals 133,680.56 cubic feet per day, or 1.5472 cubic feet per second, or 3.0689 acre-feet per day.
What if we exceed 9 MGD during the repair?
Minimum amounts of water pressure must be maintained at all times in public water systems. If pressures drop below 20 pounds per square inch, Leander's system becomes vulnerable for bacteria from groundwater or dirt to seep into the pipe and affect the water supply.
If Leander water demands exceed our treatment capacity, the City could fail to maintain a proper amount of pressures and flows in our water system. If this happens, the City may have to issue a boil water notice to all customers and would risk damaging water system components that rely on constant, pressurized flows to function properly.
Why does the BCRUA pipeline keep failing?
Several factors which may have contributed to previous failures in the BCRUA pipeline were investigated, but no one factor could be determined as the root cause. However, BCRUA engineers confirmed that each failure occurred within only a certain section of pipeline, and it remains particularly vulnerable. Replacing this section of pipe should significantly reduce risk of failure in the future.
Why doesn't Cedar Park or Round Rock have this problem?
Unlike our BCRUA partner cities, the majority of Leander's treated water supply comes from the BCRUA. When BCRUA operations are down, Leander is the most impacted and must implement stricter conservation measures. On most days, the BCRUA plant provides Leander with up to 15 MGD of treated water while our smaller Sandy Creek plant provides up to 9 MGD of treated water.
How can Leander residents help?
(1) If you are a Leander water customer, turn off your irrigation system and encourage others to do the same until BCRUA pipeline repairs are complete. Leander's largest water demands come from residential and commercial irrigation system uses. (2) If you observe water violations elsewhere in the city, please notify Code Enforcement immediately.
What about my vegetable garden?
Water uses deemed "essential" are necessary to sustain human and animal life, as well as maintain minimum standards of hygiene and sanitation. Although not common, if watering your vegetable garden is necessary to sustain life (i.e. primary food source), it would be considered an essential water use. In all other instances, outdoor watering of plants and landscapes are prohibited under Phase 4 conservation.
Can I fill my swimming pool?
Use of potable water from the City's water system to fill, refill, or add to any indoor or outdoor swimming pools, wading pools, ornamental ponds, Jacuzzi-type pools, or similar during Phase 4 conservation is prohibited.
Why is our golf course still watering?
The Crystal Falls Golf Club public course uses reclaimed water to irrigate its greens and fairways, and it's not connected to Leander's drinking water supply. The reclaimed water is recycled from wastewater collected at the City's water reclamation plant located on Durango Hills Drive in the Travisso neighborhood. Wastewater generated from Travisso properties is processed and redistributed through separate, purple-colored pipes which deliver reclaimed water to irrigation systems at the golf course and some Travisso common areas.
Please note, though reclaimed water is not used in the drinking water supply, it meets many of the criteria for drinking water and is harmless to humans through normal contact.
- Meters – Building permits will continue to be issued. All meters that are currently in the queue will be set during this time, but no new meters will be set starting Feb. 12. Developers have the option to use a water truck/wagon for construction related activities.
- Single-Family House Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) – The City will issue a TCO for single-family and two-family houses with the condition that the homeowner and builder sign an affidavit that confirms that erosion controls will be in place and delays the landscaping requirement until the Phase 4 conservation measure is lifted. The homebuilders need to coordinate with their building inspector. In addition, they will need to upload the signed affidavit to the Development Hub and email [email protected] in order to process the TCO.
- Irrigation Permits – Irrigation permits will be processed and reviewed, but not issued during this time.
- Pool Permits – Pool Permits shall not be issued when the city is subject to Phase 4 Conservation measures unless the property owner and permit applicant sign an affidavit stating that they understand that they are required to use water sourced from outside of the City of Leander water system to fill the pool. We will also require a contract to be submitted with the pool permit application. This contract needs to be with a water truck company to provide water for the pool. The contract needs to include the total number of gallons required to fill the pool. If the pool is completed after the conservation measures are lifted, we will no longer require the water truck.
- Phase 4 Conservation Efforts Affidavit
Site Development & Construction Plans
- Site Development Permits – Conditional Certificate of Completion – Developers may coordinate with the Planning Department ([email protected]) to delay the installation of landscaping for commercial and multi-family projects. Once all other requirements and improvements are completed for the project, the developer may request a conditional certification of completion by submitting an escrow agreement, deposit for landscaping, approved landscape plan, and cost estimate for the missing improvements. Erosion controls must remain in place until the final landscaping is installed.
- Construction Plan Acceptance – Developers may coordinate with the Planning Department ([email protected]) to delay the installation of landscaping for subdivision developments. Once all other requirements and improvements are completed for the subdivision and the development is ready to be accepted, the developer may request to delay the landscaping by submitting an escrow agreement, deposit for landscaping, approved landscape plan, and cost estimate for the missing improvements. Erosion controls must remain in place until the final landscaping is installed.
The Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority (BCRUA) is a partnership of the cities of Leander, Cedar Park, and Round Rock to treat and distribute water from the Lower Colorado River Authority.