Georgetown Utilities & Customer Care

Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Water Supply Project

To address the long-term demands of population growth in our water service area, the City is looking to partner with EPCOR to secure additional raw-water supply. The City has entered into a two-year reservation agreement to negotiate a public-private partnership and a Water Supply Agreement, which will provide a plan to deliver water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Robertson County. The partnership contemplates Georgetown receiving about 32 million to 55 million gallons per day of treated groundwater (39,399-70,000-acre feet), with initial delivery by 2030.

Executive Summary

The City of Georgetown faces unprecedented growth and demand for water, coupled with a finite surface water contract volume from the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and limited yield of local Edwards Aquifer groundwater. The population is rapidly growing in Central Texas, increasing competition for BRA surface water and groundwater supplies.

The City’s Integrated Water Resources Plan (IWRP) identifies new water supply options and ensures long-term reliability under uncertain water resources and demand growth. The IWRP, which was presented to council in December 2022, projects the City adding an average of 6,700 new water connections each year from 2024 through 2042 – nearly three times the projected new connections from the 2018 master plan (2,500). As such, the IWRP estimates the City will need to bring on new, raw-water supply by 2030 in order to keep up with demand.

The reservation agreement Council entered into with EPCOR on Aug. 9, 2023, provides a plan to deliver water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Robertson County. The partnership contemplates Georgetown receiving about 32 million to 55 million gallons per day of treated groundwater (39,399-70,000-acre feet), with initial delivery by 2030.

Glossary of Terms

    • Acre foot: An acre foot of water is enough water to cover an acre of land 1-foot deep, or about 326,000 gallons. Put another way, an acre-foot of water is enough to flood a football field 1-foot deep. For reference to the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer waterline project, the original 39,339-acre feet of water amounts to 35.2 million gallons of water per day.
    • Groundwater: Water that exists underground in saturated zones beneath the land surface. The upper surface of the saturated zone is called the water table. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground rivers.
    • Surface water: Water located on top of land, forming terrestrial waterbodies. The vast majority of surface water is produced by precipitation.
    • Water transmission main: Moves significant quantities of treated water among service areas. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer waterline project will construct an 80-plus-mile waterline to transport water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer to Georgetown.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much will this reservation agreement cost and how will it be funded?

The cost to reserve at least 39,399-acre feet for two years to negotiate the terms of the water service agreement totals $11.8 million over the two-year term, which will be funded by water fund balances, developers, and customers. The City also will be meeting with regional partners to determine their water needs and possible interest in cooperation on the project.

The two-year agreement reserves up to 70,000-acre feet of raw water for Georgetown, if the additional acre feet are made available to EPCOR. The maximum cost to reserve the full 70,000-acre feet of water is $10.5 million per year, which will be funded by water fund balances, developer agreements, regional partners, and customer rates. The cost per acre foot for the first 39,399-acre feet of groundwater is $150. This compares to the FY24 reservation rate with BRA of $93 per acre foot and with LCRA of $96.88 per acre foot.

If the City enters into a Water Supply Agreement with EPCOR, customers can expect the costs to be reflected in annual studies for rates, developer service agreements, and master planning.

What gives the City the confidence to enter into such an expensive agreement?

The City has considered many factors and consulted with several firms to have confidence in the agreement.

1. The City has brought on the following professional firms – from groundwater experts to rate specialists – to evaluate the deal:

    • Groundwater experts: Intera
    • Lease valuation consultants
    • Financial consultants: Specialized Public Finance
    • Rates: NewGen
    • Engineering: CDM Smith
    • Legal: Spencer Fane

2. There are several examples of similar, successful waterline projects:

    • San Antonio Water System Project Vista Ridge (EPCOR project)
    • 130 Project: Manville Water Service Contract, Manor, and private utilities owned by Southwest Water Company (EPCOR project)
    • Samsung: Sandow Water Treatment Plant (EPCOR project)
    • City of Hutto: Heart of Texas Water
    • Alliance Water: Cities of Buda, San Marcos, and Kyle
    • Round Rock, Brushy Creek, City of Georgetown water systems: 50-mile water line from Lake Stillhouse to Lake Georgetown

3. EPCOR has the experience and resources necessary to meet the obligations of the contract.

It has the permitting in place with the groundwater district and has the ability to construct the waterline much faster than the City.

EPCOR builds, owns, operates, and manages water, wastewater, power, and natural gas utilities across North America. In Central Texas, the company has experience building and operating several, large-scale water-delivery projects, including the 142-mile-long Vista Ridge Project and the 130 Pipeline. EPCOR is currently constructing the water-supply infrastructure and water-reclamation facilities to support the semiconductor fabrication plant in Taylor.

Why does the City want to enter a public-private partnership, and what role will EPCOR play?

The public-private partnership will allow the City to reserve and deliver the water much faster than if we were to do it alone.

Ultimately, EPCOR will be responsible for building an 80-plus-mile waterline that will deliver treated water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer to Georgetown.

EPCOR’s responsibilities include:

    • Securing groundwater rights
    • Maintaining permits to transport, design, build, finance, and own and operate infrastructure
    • Making the groundwater available

The City will be responsible for the following:

    • Obtaining real-property rights as needed to allow connection of the infrastructure to the City’s water system
    • Identifying points of delivery and minimum volumes of delivery
    • Purchasing the groundwater (through EPCOR-held leases)
    • Using the groundwater responsibly and to our customers’ benefit
Why do we need this water?

The City’s Integrated Water Resources Plan (IWRP) estimates the City will need to bring on new, raw-water supply by 2030 in order to keep up with demand.

The IWRP indicates the Georgetown will need to acquire an additional:

      • 10,000-acre feet by 2030
      • 20,000-acre feet by 2034
      • 50,000-acre feet by 2041
      • 60,000-acre feet by 2044
      • 70,000-acre feet by 2047
      • 80,000-acre feet by 2052

The City’s water sources are primarily surface water. The City also needs to diversify where it gets raw water to ensure resiliency and sustainability and to mitigate risks associated with the continued drought conditions.

The most sustainable portfolio outlined in the IWRP calls for 70,000-acre feet of water supply coming from groundwater by 2052. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer waterline project could meet some or all of those requirements, with at least 39,399-acre feet coming online by 2030 and up to a total of 70,000-acre feet throughout the course of the agreement.

Securing additional, diverse, raw-water supplies is important for Georgetown’s future. We are doing our best to plan for the future to meet everybody’s needs. This will set Georgetown up to meet our continually increasing demands for water in our large service area, most of which is outside City limits.

Previous estimates said we had enough raw water until 2042 or later. Now we need additional supply by 2030. How we were so off?

Our previous estimates from water master plans (the previous most recent being from 2018) had the year we run out of water supply between 2042 and 2052. Those projections were based on as many as 2,500 new water connections per year. We’ve been nearly tripling that the past few years, particularly in our western district outside of City limits.

We updated our projections a few years ago and have been aggressively working toward securing more raw water since. The IWRP confirmed our updated projections were correct, and with the work we have and will put in, we are confident we’ll have more supply online by 2030.

Why isn’t the City working to secure water closer to home?

The surface water currently available is all under contract: All the water in the reservoirs the City has access to (Georgetown, Stillhouse Hollow, and Belton) is already fully under contract, with no additional water supply available.

The Carrizo-Wilcox is the most prolific aquifer in the region and generally runs from Northeast Texas to Southwest Texas.

Major aquifers of Texas

How does this project fit in with regional efforts?

The City continues to work with Brazos River Authority to secure additional groundwater supply within the region. BRA issued an RFP in Spring 2022 to procure groundwater for the region but has not been able to come to an agreement – and when they do, it likely won’t be enough groundwater to meet the full demand projected in our IWRP. We are still hopeful an agreement will be reached, and look forward to our continued, regional partnerships to responsibly manage our limited water resources.

Won’t adding this much water increase development in Georgetown?

This added supply would not be a ticket to develop unsustainably or use water irresponsibly.

The City will continue to review new development to ensure we grow responsibly – though a great deal of our water service area lies outside our control.

The groundwater contract requires the City to be responsible stewards of the water. We will have to show responsible use through our groundwater contract: The groundwater management district that oversees this put conditions on the project – including responsible use of the water – which we are happy to comply with and will continue to pursue ways to conserve and be respectful of all resources. Other requirements for beneficial use of groundwater include using it for domestic and agricultural purposes and preventing waste and pollution. Read more about beneficial groundwater use: Rules 43 and 44 (pages 6 and 7).

Why did Georgetown seek this agreement on its own, without any of our regional partners?

The City is committed to a regional approach to this limited resource and will be exploring options to help our neighboring communities.

Georgetown also has the largest service territory of anyone in Williamson County and needs to secure additional water supply by 2030, so it was important for us to secure the water for our territory. Further, Georgetown has an AA+ revenue bond rating by Standard and Poor’s, which will help us secure lower-cost funding sources to pay for the needed infrastructure.

The IWRP gives Georgetown fewer than 10 years to have 10,000-acre feet of new supply of water online. That is not a lot of time for a municipality.

We are taking the lead to coordinate additional supply, and we will work to share excess water with our neighboring cities in the early years, when the supply will exceed our demand.

The City was limited in what we could say prior to the Aug. 9 contract adoption, due to a non-disclosure agreement.


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