So far in 2020, the city of Leander is using about 37% more water than was envisioned in its 2015 Comprehensive Plan.

The figures in that plan represent a significant underestimation, K. Freise Vice President Dale Murphy said at an Aug. 20 Leander City Council workshop. Murphy's firm created water models for the city to project water use through 2035 based on water systems and infrastructure.

Reasons for the underestimate include rapid population growth and greater use of water per connection than previously used. Increased usage could be attributed to people staying home during the pandemic, though new neighborhoods have also used more water via high-end irrigation systems.

"The irrigation demand is what seems to be taking off more and more as well," Murphy said.

Murphy said the city's upcoming water infrastructure projects serve as "catch-up" to move water at the needed rate.

"It's like we're now trying to catch up to 2023 in what we were planning for before," he said.

City Council recently approved a long-range water supply study contract. Predicting areas of growth in Leander will be part of how the city identifies and chooses future water projects.

The city uses two water treatment plants: the Sandy Creek Water Treatment Plant near Lake Travis and the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority. In September, work will finish up on a BCRUA expansion project to expand treatment capacity from 10.55 million gallons per day to 14.93 million gallons per day.

An $80 million BCRUA Phase 2 and deep water intake project and a $46.5 million BCRUA East Plant expansion project are part of the city's proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget.

Other upcoming water projects include new pipelines, larger pipelines and elevated storage tanks to create looping and redundancy for improved water flow, Murphy said. San Gabriel Parkway pipeline and elevated storage tank projects will alleviate some demand from the Sandy Creek plant and issue the demand to the BCRUA, which has excess capacity.

"It's a big piece of helping us balance a little bit better between our treatment plant demands," Murphy said about the San Gabriel projects.