Cedar Park, Leander residents under strict water restrictions as repairs begin on pipeline
Thousands of water customers in Cedar Park and Leander are under strict water restrictions as crews begin repairs on a leak in the underwater Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority Pipeline.
The 36-inch pipeline pulls water from Lake Travis into the BCRUA water treatment facility, which serves as Leander's primary source for treated drinking water. The facility also supplies Cedar Park with 20% of residents' treated drinking water.
The pipeline and facility will be shut down during the estimated 14-day repair process, which began Wednesday. The cities will have to rely on other water treatment facilities during that time.
The Sandy Creek Water Treatment Plant will be the sole supplier of treated drinking water to Leander during the repairs. However, the plant can treat only 9 million gallons of water per day — less than half of the city's usual water demand during this time of year.
As a result, water customers in Leander are temporarily prohibited from all outdoor watering.
"Our community must continue to do everything we can to keep water usage low," the city says on its website. "If water demand is too high at any point during the repair, we risk losing water service throughout the entire city."
Water customers caught violating the restrictions could face a $1,000 fine and possible disconnection for second and subsequent offenses.
Leander Mayor Christine DeLisle said she believes the stiff penalty is appropriate, given the gravity of the situation.
"For the most part, we have residents looking out for each other. ... They're concerned about their neighbors, they're concerned about having clean water and just getting through this repair the next couple of weeks," DeLisle told KUT. "But if we have to turn off some people or fine them $1,000 in order to keep clean drinking water in every household in Leander, then we have that tool in our toolbox now."
The city said residents can report code violations online.
The Cedar Park Water Treatment Plant, which typically supplies the other 80% of Cedar Park's drinking water, will be the sole provider of water to the city during repairs.
Water customers in Cedar Park are currently prohibited from using outdoor irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. Handheld hose watering with a water shutoff sprayer, however, is allowed during the repair.
"Irrigation is the largest water use at this time of year and by curtailing it, the City of Cedar Park water treatment plant can meet remaining water system demand," the city says on its website.
The city also said it is actively enforcing the restrictions, with penalties in place for second and subsequent offenses.
The leak in the underwater BCRUA pipeline was first discovered during a monthly inspection Aug. 8.
The leaking pipeline initially was diverting 1 million gallons of water a day into the lake. A second inspection on Sept. 9 found the leak had expanded, diverting 2 million gallons of water.
The pipeline previously underwent repairs just last year.