A bit of history: Lakeway was founded in 1962 with the construction of the Lakeway Inn and Marina. Between April 1962 and April 1971, the first 17 residential sections of Lakeway were built – the area now delineated by the “Old Lakeway” signs. It wasn’t until 1972 that Lakeway MUD (LMUD) was formed. At the time, LMUD passed a bond issue that included the installation of a sewer system to all Lakeway homes within the LMUD Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), but the homeowners in this Old Lakeway area chose to opt out since they had just installed their septic systems and streets - which even today remain under the regulatory control of the LCRA. LMUD has since only serviced this area with potable (clean drinking) water.
LMUD is a public utility company – we are separate from the City, that provides potable water to over 4,200 wastewater to 3,000 customers, and recycled water – which is used for landscape irrigation to aid in water conservation. You may have noticed our new purple signs along the boulevard, on the golf courses, and around other businesses in our community. We are the ones who are responsible for the installation, management and repairs of the sewer system being installed in the Old Lakeway area.
Well maintained septic tanks in this area average a life expectancy of 40 years. With Lakeway approaching 60 years old, many of the septic tanks in the Old Lakeway area are passed this mark. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not realize that their septic tank has failed until they go to sell it. Just because your toilet flushes does not mean that there are not holes in your septic tank or tree roots compromising your drainfield. If you do notice an issue with your system, there are new regulations in place for septic tanks, which are regulated by TCEQ and enforced by LCRA– this means that an old septic tank most times can not be repaired – it needs to be replaced with often an even larger area for a drainfield. New systems cost between $30k to $40k. On this slide there are a few comments from actual LMUD customers who have already hooked up to the new sewer system or are prepared to do so as soon as it is made available to them.
We did extensive research and consulted with many experts on how to best handle this project, taking terrain, cost, timeline, and disruption into consideration. It was not feasible to install a gravity system, like the rest of Lakeway due to these considerations. We decided the best sewer system type to install is called a low pressure sewer system, which requires a grinder pump and control panel to be installed at each home. It does connect to the homeowner’s electricity resulting in only a slight increase to your electricity bills. With this type of system, when the wastewater in the grinder pump tank reaches a pre-set level, the grinder pump automatically turns on, grinds the waste, and pumps it out of the tank via the homeowner's on-site sewer service line and into the public sewer system – rather than sitting in a tank in your yard and requiring a large drain field, which is the case with a septic system. There are still some maintenance considerations in terms of what you put down the drain (like baby wipes and cooking grease), similar to that of being on a septic tank, BUT if anything happens, LMUD will be responsible for making any needed repairs, as long as the homeowner is paying the optional service fee.
LMUD will provide you with a list of instructions once your house is hooked up and we are always available to answer any of your questions by phone or e-mail. If anything goes wrong with your system, you will be notified by a red light on the control panel lighting up and an alarm will sound. If you notice this, please call us so we can get our crew over to look at it as soon as possible. Discontinue your water usage to prevent water flow into the tank until the light goes off.
The wastewater from each home is pumped to a lift station, where the wastewater can then be transported by gravity to our wastewater treatment plant for processing. A lift station has most components underground – it consists of a wastewater receiving well (wet-well), which is under ground; pumps and piping with associated valves; motors (also under ground). The power supply system; an equipment control and alarm system; and an odor control system and ventilation system, are all that you will see above ground. This slide is showing a couple of our lift stations outside of homes around Lakeway. The Phase 1 lift station will go on the Golf Courses property off Flamingo Blvd by their Maintenance Facility. It will be set back off the road, and we are looking to hide it with a fence it making it invisible from the street. LMUD currently has 22 lift stations which we operate in the area. They are each inspected weekly and pumped at least once a year to get rid of any build up, usually caused from grease that is put down drains.
KB This map is available on our website where you can download and zoom in on it. The Project has been separated into two phases: Phase 1 consists of all of the homes around the Live Oak golf course (the solid green shaded area). Our records show there are about 230 single family homes, 81 condos, and 17 empty lots in this area. We have broken ground for Phase 1. We aim to have the main line completed by September 1 this year. The Lift Station and Force Main will follow, and should be complete in about one year. The homes in Phase 1 will begin being hooked up after this infrastructure is complete. After that, we would move on to Phase 2 (the green stripped area), pending approval from the LMUD Board of Directors. This area consists of about 771 homes and 79 empty lots. It is projected to take another 3 years to complete.
This project is going to, of course, require a lot of construction. There will be noise. Initially, our machinery and equipment will be parked along the golf course. We will be disrupting landscaping in the easement. HOWEVER, we will be repairing everything once we are done to bring it back to its original (or in some cases, better than original) condition, including laying sod and repairing damage to any driveways, fences, or other personal or city property. We did acquire a directional boring machine (shown here) so that we are able to cut under driveways and streets as much as possible. Some of you have mentioned to us that we have tagged some of your trees. This does not mean we are cutting them down; the tags are there simply to help us with our surveying, so we know where to run lines. Please do not remove them. Our goal with this project is to not cut down ANY trees. We have consulted with the City’s arborist throughout this process to determine the best way to do this. During this process, we ask that you please, for your safety, not approach the crew members while they are working. If you have any questions or concerns in the process, you are always welcome to call us or stop by our office.
To date, we have completed approx. 15 hookups as part of our pilot project. The first one was early 2018 on Lakeway Dr. for a resident who was looking to buy the house, but the septic tank failed inspection and they were faced with needing to either buy a new septic tank plus find space for a larger drainfield to meet new LCRA regulations. They were very thankful we have another solution for them! Several residents faced major issues with their septic tanks and drain fields when we had the big storms last year – one resident had their septic tank actually float up and pop out of the ground! LCRA was going to allow them to put it back in, but the cost was just as much as hooking up to the new sewer system.
You may have noticed that the Live Oak Golf Course is performing some maintenance over the summer and into the fall season. This has worked out to be good timing for us. Our plan is to begin laying the mainline on the course’s property or easement behind each home’s backyard (which means limited construction on the street during this time). We plan to move as quickly as possible with crews most likely working non-stop during the day and possibly on the weekend. Once we finish with the mainline and connecting them to the supporting infrastructure, we will begin connecting individual homes. We plan to start with the homes closest to the lift station (on Flamingo near Dasher, by the airpark) fanning out in either direction with our teams, working up the street. We will be making every effort to connect with each home owner personally before we are ready to hook up each home.
For homeowners in Phase 1, you will eventually have the option to connect to our recycled water lines, but this will not be done until after we have completed all of Phase 1. Unfortunately, this option is not feasible for Phase 2 at this time. This recycled water comes from the water that has already been treated at the wastewater plant. The water has been treated and disinfected to meet Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) standards, but is not suitable for drinking. All water from our wastewater treatment plants is placed in our holding ponds until our customers are ready to use it. Like all of our water, recycled water is also continuously monitored for quality to ensure public health and safety. No water leaves any of our plants without rigorous testing. Using this type of water helps conserve water by reducing the amount of potable water used for irrigation purposes. An added benefit is that it’s still accessible during times of drought….and it’s cheaper! It does require a separate meter to be added to your house, which may or may not be placed next to your existing potable water meter – location is dependent on proximity to the recycled water line. This is all just for your information at this time – your opportunity to be hooked up to this reuse line will be presented to you once we have completed Phase 1.
When we are getting close to being ready to hook up each home, we will be making every attempt to personally reach you to find out if you are ready to hook up to the new sewer system. We will go over your options next. Your reply does not need to be the same as you filled out on our survey over a year ago – those responses were simply for us to get a better understanding if there was adequate desire to move forward with the project – which 80% of you said “yes” to hooking up when it was made available or later. Know that this project is completely voluntary. You do still have the option to NEVER hook up. If you like your septic, you are welcome to keep it. But for those of you who are ready, we will be getting a firm commitment from you, including a signed service agreement before we connect your home or begin a payment plan. Please be sure we have your updated mailing address, e-mail, and phone number on file so that when we reach out, you are able to quickly reply. You can check this information by logging in to your account on our website (go to lakewaymud.org, then “My Account” then “communication preferences” (see slide for details) – if you do not have an account, you can sign up for one at the same location using your account number, which you can find on your bill. If you are unable to do this, please call our main office number and they can check for you what information we have on file. (512) 261-6222 x110
We have decided to eliminate one of the three options that were included on the survey. Our previously presented option #2 gave you the choice to start making payments now and connect later…when we were looking at the survey results we found a very small percentage were actually interested in this option and it would have been a billing nightmare with everyone at different rates, so rather than try to implement it into our billing system, we have decided to eliminate it. However, option 1 is the same as was originally presented, just with the break down of costs divided a bit differently: The Out of District (OD) Base Rate covers each homeowner’s portion of paying towards the construction of the infrastructure required to bring a sewer system to the area – this will be paid off after 25 years. Note this is based on our projected project total cost, which we are paying upfront. If it ends up being less, each home owners cost will be reduced. There may also be other funding options (such as grants) which we are continuing to look into. This OD Base Rate also includes ongoing operations costs, which will continue to be on your bill and will vary as rates change. Something to be aware of is that homeowners affected by this project are considered Out of District, and will remain Out of District which means you do not pay taxes to us. In District customers pay a tax rate of .1158% (2019) on their assessed home value. Note too that their rates were higher when the sewer system was being installed in the rest of Lakeway and was reduced over time. This slide shows that customers opting in to this project will pay the same amount, except for their volumetric rate, which will vary based on usage. The service fee is optional. If you choose to pay it, you can rely on us to handle any issues you are having with your system as well as for regular maintenance. For the few of you who were already on the limited existing public sewer in the area, we have maintenance options for you too with slightly different costs. Please contact us for details.
With the previous Option 2 being removed, your other option is simply to delay your hookup or decline all together and stay on your existing septic system. We highly encourage you, through, that if your tank is old and you would consider switching to this public sewer system rather than installing a new septic tank when yours fails, that you choose option 1 and hook up as soon as we make it available to you – because again, septic tanks are not supposed to last more than 40 years and you may be having issues with it and just not realize it yet. If we pass you by, there are a few other one-time up-front costs involved, shown here, because hooking you up later also means we need to order a grinder pump and other supplies specifically for you, rather than the large quantity we are ordering now, which means the per-each cost will be higher. We also have to pull our crew away from whatever it is they are working on at the time to accommodate you. Plus just general inflation costs. We will get to you as soon as possible, but you may have to wait longer than you anticipated if your tank has already failed. However, if you feel secure with your existing system, you are more than welcome to choose this option. Know that hooking up always remains an option to you. And if you sell your home and future homeowners want to connect to the sewer system, they still have the option to do so with the costs stated here. These are one time up-front costs that are not assessed if you choose option 1.
That’s all we have. We did make note of a few questions that have already come up so we wanted to address those as well: If your septic tank fails, we are working closely with the LCRA so they are aware of and in support of our project. We have come up with ways to put temporary repairs on tanks until we can get to you. If this is not feasible, you will be put on our emergency list and we will make special accommodations to get to you as soon as possible. There are costs associated with being hooked up early, similar to that of the previously mentioned option with the one-time, upfront costs. Basically, if your septic system fails, call us a soon as possible so we can help you come up with a solution. With selling your house, it’s really just an added bonus that you can let potential buyers know that this is an option or if you’re already hooked up that it’s just part of their utility bill. Hook up early? We do have an active list of people who have expressed interest in hooking up to the system before we get to their area. Emergency cases always take precedence, but if we need to lay lines to accommodate these emergencies and your house is along that path, making it easy for us to get you connected, we most likely can do so. However, we are trying to stick to a deadline with getting Phase 1 completed, so we can’t divert our teams too much. The same fees would apply to an emergency case, apply here as well. To be added to this list, just give us a call. When we start hooking up houses, you will only be out of water service for a few hours. Since we will have the mainline run and infrastructure in place already, it will just be a matter of disconnecting your pipes from the old system and reconnecting to the new one. There are, of course, always exceptions and problems can appear, but so far we have not seen many cases of this. We know many of you already have decided if you want to hook up or not. Please reach out to Stephanie and she will add you to her list and then send you the service agreement as soon as we are ready.
Here is Stephanie’s information. Please contact her with any questions, comments, or concerns. Thank you for your time!
Featured Image Photo Credit: Leslee Bassman/Lake Travis View