Local leaders will begin a long-term fix to the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority’s underwater pipeline on Feb. 28.

Ahead of the repairs, the city of Leander will move to Stage 4 water restrictions Feb. 12, officials said. This prohibits outdoor watering and restricts all nonessential uses of water.

The specifics

According to city information, the work requires replacing and testing a 1,418-linear-foot section of the 36-inch pipeline that transports raw water from Lake Travis to the BCRUA water treatment plant. Once at the plant, the water is converted into drinking water and dispersed to each BCRUA partner city—Leander, Cedar Park and Round Rock.

The repair will require the entire BCRUA water treatment plant to stop operations because the raw water line must be separated, replaced and reconnected. Because of this, Leander’s overall capacity will be reduced from 24 million gallons per day to 9 MGD as the city will rely solely on the Sandy Creek Regional Water Plant, officials said.

Leander Chief of Staff Mike Neu said this is the earliest the project could take place due to supply chain delays. The pipeline was purchased in May, but the BCRUA did not begin receiving the materials until mid-December.

“During this repair time, our water capacity is very restricted,” Neu said. "Without conservation from our customers, we risk damaging our system and losing our ability to provide water to our customers.”

Previous pipe repairs

Replacing the portion of the pipe is intended to prevent failures that occurred three times over the last three years.
  • December 2020: A separation in the underwater pipeline caused a shutdown of the BCRUA water treatment plant. Initial repairs were completed April 29, 2021.
  • August 2022: BCRUA contractors discovered a new leak in the previously repaired pipeline. Repair work took place from Sept. 21-Oct. 5, and Leander was in Stage 4 conservation measures during this time.
  • February 2023: BCRUA officials noticed a reduction in water pressure and determined a ball joint connecting to the previously repaired section of pipe failed. Repairs were completed in March.
Quote of note

“This isn’t, ‘A line just broke yesterday, and now we’re going into something.’ This is absolutely intentional, and it is on purpose. It is necessary so that we don’t have those problems," Leander City Council member Chris Czernek said.

What to expect

In Leander, Phase 4 water conservation measures restrict all nonessential uses of water, including outdoor irrigation. However, everyday water uses, such as drinking, bathing and washing clothes and dishes, are allowed.

City officials are asking Leander water customers to delay landscaping improvements as those often require extra watering.

Neu said, unlike other cities in the BCRUA partnership, Leander receives the majority of its treated water from the BCRUA.

City of Cedar Park officials confirmed they would not be enacting further water restrictions due to the repair but will remain in Stage 3—which allows outdoor watering one day per week—due to ongoing drought conditions.

However, Liberty Hill is expected to enact similar water conservation measures as Leander because the city receives between 400,000-500,000 gallons of treated water from Leander each day, Neu said.

Neu said he’s confident that with residents’ support, the city will be able to reduce its water usage and maintain water supply during the repairs. If water demand is not reduced, Neu said the system may experience a drop in pressure, which could allow bacteria to enter the water and necessitate a boil-water notice as well as risk damaging the water system.

The project is expected to wrap up the first week of April, Neu said.