The city of Round Rock will be more prepared for heavy rains after City Council approved $800,000 in improvements to its water system March 12.

The upgrades include an overhaul of the software that manages the water system, including the electronic mechanisms that monitor water levels in the water storage tanks and pressure at dozens of points around the city, utilities director Michael Thane said. The system will also operate over a cellular network, replacing an old radio network that had risk of failure during heavy rainstorms, Thane said.

“[This will] really make us more reliable as we go forward and as our city continues to grow, and as we have more water sources to manage, our water plant operators will be able to handle that basically from a computer,” Thane said at the council’s agenda briefing the morning of March 10.

The water system upgrades will allow the city to more quickly move water throughout Round Rock. This will also make it easier to fight fires and help protect homeowners and businesses from damage caused by overloaded water lines by monitoring water pressure across the city, Thane said.

Thane said the network will be private and only accessible from the plants to reduce the risk of hacking. The city expects the project to take nine to 10 months to complete.

Thane said the March 12 vote is the first step in Round Rock's water system overhaul. With the allocated funds, the city can purchase the new software for the water system as well as begin designing future upgrades to the water pressure monitoring stations and pressure release valves around the city. The next step in the overhaul could cost close to $1.5 million after the material upgrades are designed and go to bid, Thane said.

The council also unanimously approved the fourth increase to the budget of a road construction project on Harrell Parkway and the Brushy Creek Plant Road Project. Some of the construction is occurring in the right of way of the Union Pacific Railroad, resulting in the need for inspections to ensure the railway is protected. The change order increased the budget of the project by approximately $80,000 to $3.85 million, according to city documents.

The project is connecting Harrell Parkway with Brushy Creek Road across East Palm Valley Boulevard along with improving a different section of Brushy Creek Road near the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

City transportation director Gary Hudder said this would not be the last change order to come before the council due to the size of the project, as unforeseen costs like this will likely to continue to happen.

“It’s just what we’re up against, dealing with the railroad,” Hudder said March 10.