Emergency water restrictions for all West Travis County PUA customers are lifted

Contractors with West Travis County Public Utility Agency work  to repair a broken water pipeline in the Lake Pointe subdivision Oct. 8.

Contractors with West Travis County Public Utility Agency work to repair a broken water pipeline in the Lake Pointe subdivision Oct. 8.

Updated Oct. 14 at 1:00 p.m

The West Travis County Public Utility Agency has lifted its emergency Stage 4 water restrictions for all customers, General Manager Don Rauschuber said in a news release.  The final phase of repairs for the leaking raw water line that delivers water to the WTCPUA water treatment facility are complete, he said. Stage 2 water restrictions—that allow outdoor watering twice a week on designated days—are reinstated, he said.
“It took the effort of tens of thousands of people to ensure the service territory did not experience drinking water shortages," Rauschuber said. "We appreciate the help of all our retail customers, wholesale customers and local communities in this critical emergency. We are also thankful to our neighboring utilities for their assistance.”

Due to an increased water demand following the repairs, customers could experience low water pressure in higher elevations if they do not adhere to watering designated days and times, he said. Customers can find their designated watering dates and times at www.wtcpua.org.

Updated Oct. 8 at 6:45 p.m.
The West Travis County Public Utility Agency stage 4 water restrictions implemented Oct. 6 are continuing and should be considered open-ended until further notice, WTCPUA General Manager Don Rauschuber said in a news release.

Under these restrictions, residents are prohibited from all outdoor watering including irrigating their lawns, filling swimming pools or outdoor handheld washing, he said.

The Stage 4 restrictions impact all PUA customers, he said. The WTCPUA provides water and sewer services to an estimated 25,000 persons in a 225-square-mile region of western Travis and northern Hays counties.

The WTCPUA established temporary emergency connections with nearby water systems to ensure water service to its customers continues, Rauschuber said.
“The repair is difficult due to depth and location near Lake Austin,” Curtis Wilson, District Engineer of the PUA. “We have our work crews on the ground but want to ensure that our work is done correctly, requiring us to keep water use restrictions ongoing at this time.”

Customers with additional questions can contact WTCPUA customer service at 512-263-0125 or [email protected]

Updated Oct. 7 at 5:00 p.m.

"Stage 4 water restrictions [for West Travis County Public Utility Agency customers] will need to stay in effect for an open-ended [amount of] time," WTCPUA General Manager Don Rauschuber said. The restrictions were put in place Oct. 6 as a result of a raw water pipeline leak in the Lake Pointe area.

When the agency's contractors excavated the site of the leak, they realized the length of the crack in the pipe was longer than originally believed, he said. A new pipe will need to be constructed and that repair will take several days, he said.

However, emergency interconnections are being put into place to ensure the agency's water supply remains uninterrupted, Rauschuber said.

"As a matter of use, outdoor water use is the highest [type] of water use," he said of the Stage 4 restrictions that curtail customers from irrigating lawns and golf courses. "That's where you run into trouble."

Rauschuber said the pipeline that ruptured is 31 years old and "under constant pressure." The cost of the repair—estimated to be between $150,000 and $200,000— will be borne by the PUA but ultimately passed on to the consumer, he said.

About 400 gallons of water per minute is leaking from the pipeline and flowing downhill onto preserve or conservation land owned by Travis County Municipal Utility District 5, Rauschuber said.

He said the life of a water pipeline is about 50 years old and maintenance of the PUA facilities is routine. The agency had already anticipated constructing a second water line when the leak occurred, he said.


Updated Oct. 7 at 11:35 a.m.

Here's the latest from the West Travis County Public Utility Agency: "The Stage 4 restrictions are in place and will remain in effect."

Updated Oct. 6 at 2:15 p.m.

Don Rauschuber, general manager for the West Travis County Public Utility Agency, said he estimates the leak may be repaired in six to eight hours, or roughly by 8:10 p.m. at the earliest. He said the raw water line leak is occurring on the south end of Pleasant Panorama Drive in the Lake Pointe neighborhood. The line is used to transfer water from Lake Austin to the agency's water plant, he said.

Rauschuber said he learned about the leak around 1 p.m. on Oct. 5 and estimates a raw water loss of around 200,000 gallons stemming from the leak since that time.

He said the WTCPUA water tanks are full and does not anticipate any water shortages as a result of the leak. Equipment is being brought in to fix the leak at this time, and customers have responded favorably to the situation, he said.

Posted Oct. 6 at 1:42 p.m.

West Travis County Public Utility Agency customers are under a Stage 4 emergency water restrictions as of Oct. 6 because of a water leak, according to a WTCPUA news release.

The restrictions affect all PUA customers in western Travis and northern Hays counties, including Lake Pointe and the city of Bee Cave.

According to the release, residents in the PUA service area must stop all nonessential outdoor watering immediately. The restrictions prohibit irrigation of landscaped areas and use of water for golf courses. Fire hydrant water is limited to firefighting activities.

“Stage 4 restrictions should allow us to conserve water until repairs can be made,” WTCPUA General Manager Don Rauschuber said. “The PUA follows a strict protocol to ensure water is available to our customers in the event of an emergency like this.”