ODWW Project Q&A

Ariel view of historic Lakeway, courtesy Old Lakeway Project.

Why is part of Lakeway on septic while the rest of Lakeway is connected to a public sewer system?

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 – which even today remain regulated by TCEQ and enforced by LCRA. LMUD has since serviced this area with potable (clean drinking) water and only a few wastewater customers.

What does an “Out of District” customer mean?

All customers in the Old Lakeway area are considered LMUD’s “Out of District” customers – other residents are “In District” customers. This simply means that In District customers pay us tax; Out of District customers do not. As such, In District and Out of District customers pay different wastewater rates. The installation of the public sewer system will not change this status. (Click here for maps of our Service Area)

Why is LMUD installing the public sewer system now?

Well maintained septic systems in this area average a life expectancy of 40 years. With Lakeway approaching 60 years old, many of the septic systems in the Old Lakeway area are passed this mark. With new regulations, failing septic systems, most times, cannot be repaired – they need to be replaced with often an even larger area for a drain field and new systems cost between $30k to $40k. There have been several attempts in the past to install a public sewer system in the Old Lakeway area. They each proved to be very expensive and therefore, unsuccessful. In 2018, LMUD sent out a survey asking affected residents if they were interested in connecting to a public sewer system based on our proposal; 80% of those who responded said they would opt-in, so we began moving forward with this project. Note: survey responses were not official. A contract will need to be filled out by the homeowner prior to connection. (Click here for information on how to extend the life of your existing septic system).

What are some of the details of LMUD’s plan for the expansion of their public sewer system into the Old Lakeway area?

There is a reason public sewer systems are installed prior to any development: it’s difficult to install around existing development! For this project, we needed to take terrain, cost, timeline, and disruption into consideration. Before we can make any connections along a street, we have to extend the sewer main line past the property and account for the additional flow and capacity needs at our water recycling plant; all of this meant massive infrastructure improvements and expansion. To keep costs as low as possible, as well as maintain quality control, we did most of this in-house, however a section of the improvements were contracted out. (Click here for details on these Capitol Improvements. Additional updates on the project can be found here.)

What are the maintenance considerations for a grinder pump?

It was not feasible to install a gravity system, like the rest of Lakeway due to the constraints mentioned above. 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. Note: Connecting is optional for each homeowner; there is no obligation, however it always remains an option. A grinder pump is like a big garbage disposal that is inside a tank buried outside your home: it grinds up everything that goes down your drain and then pushes it into the public sewer system. Maintain it the same way you would a septic system: being careful with what you would put down the drains, such as avoiding wet wipes and cooking grease. If you have any problems with it or concerns, part of the installation agreement is LMUD maintaining the system, so just give us a call. (Click here for information on Grinder Pump Maintenance)

What are the costs to connect to and maintain the system?

Upfront fees vary per connection option: If you connect as a “Regular Connection” (when we make it available to all houses along a specific street) there are minimal upfront fees. If your septic system fails before we can offer you a “Regular Connection” or if you are building on an empty lot, you may qualify for an “Early Connection” – this option has an upfront fee (cost increases each year). “Late Connections” will have similar fees to an “Early Connection”. Both “Early” and “Late” connections may have the option for a “Self-install” (hiring a plumber and electrician to install the system provided to you by LMUD) versus an “LMUD-install” (we install the system for you to no added cost for labor, although wait times avg. about 1 year after signing up). No matter the connection choice (“Early”, “Regular” or “Late”) the wastewater charge, once connected to sewer, averages about $90 per month – $10 is based on volume usage and a $5 service fee (connected customers just call us if your system fails or needs repairs); the rest of the cost is a base charge which equates to about what an average In-District customer pays us in yearly tax. It helps us pay for infrastructure development and ongoing maintenance. Homeowners will also see a slight increase to their electric bills once connected since electricity is needed to run the grinder pump’s control panel. (Click here for more information on Rates and Connection Options)

What is the Project’s timeline?

The Project has been separated into two phases: Phase 1 is primarily the residences around the Live Oak Golf Course (approx. 330 properties). Phase 2 is everyone else in the Project area (approx. 920 properties). Phase 1 property connections began in Summer 2021. Once Phase 1 is connected, we will move on to Phase 2. Our timeline is currently based on our ability to connect 3.5 properties each week with an expected 85 percent opt-in rate. (Click here for Project Timeline | Click here for Project Map)

Where should we go for more information and project updates?

Comprehensive information and updates on the project can be found in the ODWW Project section of the LMUD website (Click here). Questions can be directed to Stephanie Threinen, LMUD’s Public Information Liaison by visiting the LMUD office at 1097 Lohmans Crossing, calling (512) 261-6222 ext. 175, or e-mailing stepht@lakewaymud.org .