The city of Georgetown held its annual State of the City address Feb. 15, highlighting its strategic plans for 2023, including how the city plans to deal with growth, development and water.

The event featured a speech from Mayor Josh Schroeder and City Manager David Morgan.

“We are spending a lot of time making sure that as we grow so fast, that it's not aimless, that it is a direction built on good thought as well as good input from the community,” Morgan said.

Georgetown's population grew 10.5% from July 2020 through July 2021, earning it the designation of the fastest-growing U.S. city with a population over 50,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some of the city’s main priorities for 2022 were growth, utilities, supply chain, recruiting employees, inflation, transportation and quality of life, according to remarks made during the 2021 State of the City address.

Last year, the city started to experience problems with water capacity due to extremely high temperatures and water demand for outdoor purposes, Schroeder said.

Schroeder distinguished between two types of water, treated water and raw water. Raw water is water that has not undergone any sort of treatment to make it suitable for consumption. Raw-water sources include lakes and reservoirs, such as Lake Georgetown, Delta Millworks and the Brazos River, Schroeder said.

He said the city is seeking additional raw-water sources.

“Water that has been treated enters residents' homes after passing through the treatment system. We are going to need additional raw water right now,” Schroeder said.

In June of last year, 2,500 home starts were made, while 5,500 water connections were made within the Georgetown municipal limits, Schroeder said.

To meet the increased demand for water, the city has opted to expand both the North Lake and South Lake water treatment plants. Construction on the South Lake Water Treatment Plant, which broke ground in May, will double the water treatment capacity. The cost of the expansion is $170 million. It will cost $12 million to complete the expansion at the North Lake Water Treatment Plant, which will result in a 16% increase in water capacity.

This city also continues to invest in its police and fire departments, which account for the largest portion of the city’s budget, Schroeder said.

“We require more human beings as we expand. Our largest investment is in people. We want to compensate those people competitively so they can continue working here,” he said.

Other projects anticipated for this year include transportation initiatives, such as enhancements to Williams Drive and the Austin Avenue corridor study. Additionally, the city is rewriting its Unified Development Code and updating the Downtown Master Plan.

To address capacity concerns at the Georgetown Animal Shelter, the city is discussing options for either expanding the facility or joining the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, Schroeder said.

Schroeder said many other cities in Williamson County partner with the regional animal shelter for services. He added the city found it could save more than a half a million dollars per year by helping expand that facility and joining it.

“It is not a statement about our staff or about the services we provide. It's just understanding how do we collaborate with other cities to be able to provide effective services, but also efficient services as well,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said Georgetown is working to take the necessary steps to ensure as the population grows, neither the city's response times nor the quality of its service declines.

“Our mission is to make this a worthy place for you to invest your time. When I mention worthy, it doesn't just mean financial investment; it means time, love and passion. Making this a truly fantastic environment is a priority to us,” Morgan said.