The Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority, or BCRUA, raw waterline is leaking into Lake Travis, according to the city. The city’s wastewater treatment plant also has excess discharge that was released into Brushy Creek in violation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality permit limitations.
In regards to the wastewater treatment plant, Leander's Executive Director of Infrastructure Dan Grimsbo said he wanted to clarify that there are different kinds of sanitary sewer overflows.
“It’s not raw sewage water that’s coming out,” he said.
Grimsbo said what is currently coming out of the wastewater treatment plant is “very treatable water.”
Essentially, TCEQ has stringent limits on where wastewater can be deposited, and the treatment plant exceeded those limits, Grimsbo said. Even if it is not a dangerous issue, TCEQ still has to be notified about violations of its permit limitations, he said.
Grimsbo also said that TCEQ was promptly notified of the violation, and they had people out around noon on Aug. 18 to address the problem. He said they were happy with the way the treatment plant was handling the issue.
According to the city, the treatment plant exceeded its limits because it is under construction for planned improvements. A full overview of the project can be found on Leander’s city website.
For the BCRUA leak, the pipe—which is Leander's primary source of treatable drinking water—is currently diverting about 1.1 million gallons of water from within the lake, said Grimsbo.
During the Aug. 18 Leander City Council meeting, Council Member Kathryn Pantalion-Parker said she wanted to clarify that the water from the BCRUA leak is still in the lake.
“It just means we are not able to pull it out,” she said. “The water is leaking at the [metaphorical] bottom of the straw, not the top of the straw. It just means we can’t get water out as fast as we would like to process it and to get it to the homeowner.”
The BCRUA leak was discovered around noon on Aug. 18 by divers during their routine monthly inspection, Grimsbo said.
According to the city, the pipeline supplies raw water from Lake Travis into the BCRUA water treatment facility.
The pipe previously broke in Dec. 2020 and was repaired in May 2021. That same break is failing again, Grimsbo said.
“It’s a large leak and needs to be addressed, as it could lead to other issues,” he said.
The pipeline has a capacity for 32 million gallons per day, which equates to a daily water loss of 3% with the current issue.
He also said BCRUA is evaluating necessary next steps. According to Leander’s press release, the estimated timeline for repair is 30-45 days.
Grimsbo explained to the council how the pipe broke in the first place. He said the pipe consists of a solid joint between two ball joints, and the solid joint is not very flexible, so it caused the pipe to snap.
The water intake does not just feed Leander. It also feeds surrounding cities, such as Cedar Park and Round Rock.
Cedar Park issued a press release on Aug. 18 to notify residents about the issue.
During the meeting, Grimsbo said the pipeline inspection will take place on Aug. 19, and they hope to have everything fixed by mid-September.