Georgetown Utilities & Customer Care

Resources and Frequently Asked Questions

image: Phase 2 - watering schedule. only water ONE day a week

 

What methods of watering are allowed if I want to water my lawn more than once or twice a week?

We encourage everyone to use low output watering methods like handheld watering (using a hose with or without a sprayer nozzle), using a watering can/bucket, drip systems, and soaker hoses, all of which can help protect trees, gardens, and foundations from the heat.  

We classify irrigation has automatic irrigation systems, as well as hose end sprinklers. Both of those methods can use thousands of gallons per hour, and when left unattended can lead to unnecessary water waste, and run off. 

Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines. 

For assistance call (512) 930-3640 or email customercare@georgetown.org. 

For information about the Drought Contingency Plan, click here.

Why is the City of Georgetown allowing so much growth if we’re concerned about being able to provide water to all of us?

The City’s raw and treated water capacities can more than accommodate the population we have now, for all but two to three months of the year, when we put 30 million gallons a day of drinkable water on our lawns.

Cities are limited in what they can do to restrict growth, predominately because it’s a property rights issue. When developers/landowners submit a plan for their property, it goes through our development and permitting process. If they can meet our development rules, they are entitled to develop their property.

We are in the process of updating our development rules to match the vision we adopted in the 2030 Plan. We will begin the update this fall, and everyone is encouraged to participate. We will share ways to participate later this year.

Where possible, the City has implemented strategies to help growth pay for growth. This is predominately done through our water, wastewater, and transportation impact fees. To quote state law, Chapter 395 of the Texas Local Government Code defines an impact fee as a “charge or assessment imposed … against new development in order to generate revenue for funding or recouping the costs of capital improvements or facility expansions necessitated by and attributable to the new development.”

The City of Georgetown has had water and wastewater impact fees in place since 1996. In the most recently completed fiscal year, the City collected a total of about $40 million in developer/builder paid impact fees.

Additionally, last year, the City adopted Transportation Impact Fees to help with the growing cost of transportation facilities. Those go into effect in March 2023 and will further ensure growth pays for itself.

All three impact fees (water, wastewater, and transportation) are required to be reevaluated and recalculated at least once every five years to ensure fairness and accuracy. We will reevaluate and recalculate our impact fees within the next year.

What is the City of Georgetown doing to work with HOAs to ensure conservation efforts are being upheld community wide?

In addition to the City’s ordinances, HOAs can adopt additional rules in their restrictions and by-laws – especially when it comes to how the neighborhood looks. Many HOAs and Neighborhood Associations have rules concerning “non-green” lawns and seek to give offending home-owners citations for not maintaining a green lawn – even during times of drought. When local watering restrictions are in place due to drought or capacity issues, we recommend that the organizations do NOT cite folks for not maintaining a lush, green lawn. Unfortunately, the City cannot require that these organizations cease enforcement of their rules, and questions about their enforceability when they conflict with City ordinances should be directed to the HOA or Neighborhood Association.

Another option for homeowners is xeriscaping. According to a law passed in 2013, HOAs can still enforce guidelines or require prior approval for xeriscaping, but they can’t “unreasonably restrict” the homeowner’s ability to conserve water with regard to their lawn. HOAs and NAs cannot prohibit choices like water-conserving turf or drought-resistant landscaping, nor can they prevent you from installing water-efficient irrigation options like drip irrigation. Texas homeowners also have the right to install a rainwater harvesting system, compost vegetation, and to leave grass clippings uncollected on your lawn. The City offers rebates for xeriscaping and other water-conservation efforts.

The City of Georgetown has heard feedback from the community and is working with HOAs and neighborhood associations to halt/pause brown lawn fines for June, July, and August. ​HOAs and neighborhood associations are encouraged to take the pledge to pause brown fines during the peak demand season for water usage. With pausing fines, we are hoping to encourage our water utility customers to reduce the amount of water they are using for irrigation purposes.

We are also encouraging our residents to take a pledge to help reduce their water usage, and become Super Water Savers this summer by being aware of how much water they are using, and pledging to become either a Platinum or Gold tier water user.

Learn more about how to pledge your HOA and your home.

We have many multi-family complexes, large outdoor areas, and commercial properties. Why is single family irrigation the biggest issue?

 

The Georgetown water utility has:

    • 56,234 single-family homes
    • 49 multifamily complexes, with a total of 8,033 units
    • About 6,000 commercial accounts

Commercial accounts are billed at a higher rate than residential customers in accordance with their usage, and our current water rate study recommends adjusting charges to apartment complexes to ensure we are charging customers appropriately for usage.

Additionally, all six golf courses in Georgetown and Southwestern University use reclaimed water, as do some City maintained outdoor facilities, such as soccer fields. Sun City also uses reclaimed water for their communal facilities, in addition to their golf course. Car washes also recycle their water.

We have many, many more single-family residential properties, each with their own lawn, than apartment complexes, and we expect the same conservation and adherence to our water schedule from all our properties.

What is the City of Georgetown doing to support all of the new growth to ensure there is enough water for our community?

Currently the North Lake Water Treatment Plant is undergoing an 8.8 million gallon per day expansion that is expected to come online in the summer 2023. We broke ground on the South Lake Water Treatment Plant on May 10, 2022. The new plant will double the treatment capacity of the water utility, with planned construction completion in two phases from 2025-2026. The new plant will be located on the south side of Lake Georgetown, near Cedar Breaks Park. With the addition of this new plant, we will be doubling our total daily capacity, from 44 million gallons of daily treated water availability, to 93.9 million gallons — because it is the most responsible choice for our projected growth.

Why did the City of Georgetown acquire Chisolm Trail SUD and how does it effect our water district?

The City of Georgetown acquired the Chisolm Trail Special Utility District in September 2014. The City and Chisholm Trail had been in discussing the possible merger of the two water utility systems since 2011, and the City conducted a feasibility study on the possible merger in 2012. The Chisholm Trail board voted unanimously to consolidate in August 2013. The City of Georgetown initially inquired about taking on the pieces of Chisolm Trail that were in our existing ETJ. However, the State of Texas required the City of Georgetown to take the entire 400 square mile Chisolm Trail SUD service area.

Prior to the acquisition, the City of Georgetown was already providing some water to the Chisolm Trail SUD. The CTSUD had purchased 11,000 acre feet of water from the City of Georgetown to be processed through the Northlake Water Treatment Plant. For example, in 2008, 25 percent of the total treated water coming out of the Northlake plant was for Chisolm Trail customers, who represented far fewer than 25 percent of our total customers. When the City acquired CTSUD, we reclaimed those 11,000 acre feet in the process, thereby increasing our ability to serve our existing utility customers as well.

In addition to recouping some of its treatment capacity, the acquisition also meant the City of Georgetown gained one raw water intake site (which provides 3 million gallons of water per day), four storage tanks, two wells, two pump stations, and the 7,600 water customers Chisolm Trail had at the that time.

The State prevented the City from divesting any of the service area for five years after the acquisition. Those five years expired in 2019, and portions of the Chisolm of Trail service area have already been transferred, both to the Jarrell-Schwertner Water Supply and to the City of Leander. These transfers removed 1,200 customers Georgetown’s services. The City of Liberty Hill and the City of Killen are currently conducting studies on the feasibility of acquiring a portion of the service area that falls within their extraterritorial jurisdiction.

What is an average day vs. an average peak day of consumption?

Here is some insight on the breakdown* of an average day vs. a peak day of consumption across the different types of water accounts** the City of Georgetown serves.

image: average daily water usage breakdown

image: peak daily water usage breakdown

  • Residential average consumption: 15.61 million gallons daily. Residential peak consumption: 38.29 million gallons daily.
  • Small Commercial (any commercial account with a line smaller than 2 inches) average consumption: 590,000 gallons daily. Small Commercial peak consumption: 1.16 million gallons daily.
  • Large Commercial (any commercial account with a line between 2 and 8 inches) average consumption 1.16 million gallons daily. Large Commercial peak consumption: 1.92 million gallons daily.
  • Government average consumption: 390,000 gallons daily. Government peak consumption: 910,000 gallons daily.
  • Multi-Family average consumption: 370,000 gallons daily. Multi-Family peak consumption: 520,000 gallons daily.

Currently there are about 6,000 commercial accounts, 49 Multi-Family accounts with a total of 8,000 units, and 56,000 single family residence accounts, which is why historically irresponsible irrigation by single-family residential customers is the largest cause of water waste within the City of Georgetown.

*Please keep in mind that these averages vary with day to day usage, and can increase or decrease due to outlying factors.

** These are averages based on total consumption from all accounts listed within these categories.

What's my water footprint?

Curious about your water footprint? We recommend trying this footprint calculator provided by the Wayland National Mayor’s Challenge. It’s an amazing resource!

How can I program an irrigation controller?

Below are links for videos on how to program or set the Seasonal Adjust feature on irrigation controlllers for Hunter and Rainbird, two of the most popular systems. If you have another type of system, just do a Google search using the make and model listed on the front of the controller.

If you contact a licensed irrigator to have your system serviced and to check your controller settings, you will qualify for the Irrigation System Checkup Rebate. Learn more about rebates here.

Hunter systems

Hunter Pro-C Seasonal Adjust
Hunter Pro-C Basic Programming
Hunter Irrigation YouTube Channel
Hunter website

Rain Bird systems

Rain Bird ESP-Me seasonal adjust
Rain Bird Corp YouTube channel
Rain Bird website

Where's my main water shut-off valve?

In case of a plumbing emergency, it’s a good idea to know how (and where) to turn off your main water supply – as well as the various isolation valves inside your home. A ruptured line or burst pipe can wreak havoc on your home and potentially cost you thousands in water damage and water bills.

In severe cold weather, the water in your pipes can freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can burst the pipe. Take note of any freeze warnings and familiarize yourself on how to prevent frozen pipes. There  are many instructional videos online that may help you.

Being able to contain a water leak as soon as possible will greatly help with damage control and allow more time to correct the situation. Everyone in your home should know exactly where the water shutoff valve is located and how to turn it off.

Where is the main water shutoff valve located?

Different builders use different equipment and locations for main water shutoff valve placement. Your main water shutoff valve could be located in several different areas. If you have a home with a crawlspace, it could be located there on an interior wall near the front of the house, where the water comes in from the water meter.

If your home was built on a slab, the valve is likely located in your yard, near the water meter box. The water meter box is normally a cement or plastic box buried in the ground near your front curb. The box will be covered with a plastic or metal cover and may look like one of these:

Examples of Water Meter Covers

Note: The examples above are not representative of all meter box covers in the city of Georgetown. Your  cover may look slightly different. Your water shutoff valve cover will likely look similar to the meter box cover and be found 2-3 feet away (toward your home) from the water meter box. Once you’ve located your shutoff valve, you should familiarize yourself on how to turn the water off when/if needed.

TIP: Be careful when opening the box. Small critters, reptiles, bugs, or other surprises may be waiting for you. It’s a good idea to periodically check under your shutoff valve cover as well as your meter cover to make sure they are both free of debris.

TIP: Old water valves can be damaged and corroded. Only use your hand to turn your water valves on or off. If you cannot do it by hand, call a professional plumber. The image below shows a compressed view of how the water meter and main shut-off valve work together.  As stated before, the main shut-off valve will actually be 2-3 feet away from the meter, not close together as shown in the image.

The image below shows a compressed view of how the water meter and main shut-off valve work together.

WARNING: DO NOT tamper with the city shut-off valve or the meter itself. It is illegal to tamper with,  obstruct access to, or remove a water meter. Be very careful, and if you have any doubts at all, call Customer Care at 512-930-3640.

If you are still unable to locate your main water shutoff valve, your local irrigation specialist or plumber should be able to tell you where it is and show you how it works. Additionally, if you still have your property inspection report, you should be able to find the area of the document that shows you where your main water shutoff valve is located.

What if I have a small leak under the kitchen sink? Do I need to shut the water off at the main valve? No, as long as the leak is between the isolation valve and the sink. Most, if not all sinks, toilets, washing machines and water heaters have their own shut-off valves. These are called isolation valves. If there is no isolation valve, or the leak is behind the isolation valve, you will need to turn off the main valve.

For sinks, the valves are located against the wall directly under the sink (usually inside a cabinet). Washing machines have valves directly behind the machine in the same location as the drainage hose. Washing machines and sinks have two valves, one for cold water and one for hot water. Toilet valves are typically located behind and below the toilet on the pipe/hose that comes out of the wall. Water heaters have a shut-off valve on the pipe that sends water into the tank. Ice makers and dishwashers may also
have isolation valves. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a damaging and costly leak. Find your shut-off valves today. If you need further assistance, contact your local irrigation specialist, plumber or builder.

In the event you have a major leak that causes an excessively high water bill, contact Customer Care at (512) 930-3640 for payment options.

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image: City of Georgetown Texas logo