System Maintenance Now Included in Base Rate for LMUD Customers with a Grinder Pump

LMUD field team grinder pump installation.

On September 11, 2019, the Lakeway Municipal Utility District (LMUD) Board of Directors, at the regularly scheduled board meeting, approved changes to the Rate Order for FY2020 that included the decision to add system maintenance in the base rate charge for LMUD customers who use a grinder pump to connect to the public sewer system. This includes all customers who opt-in to connect as part of the Out of District Wastewater (ODWW) Project as well as some pre-existing wastewater customers. With this rate change, rather than customers calling a plumbing company, LMUD is now responsible for performing all necessary repairs and preventative maintenance required to keep the systems functioning properly. It remains the customer’s responsibility to contact LMUD in order to initiate a work order for any needed repairs.

Grinder pump systems, such as those being installed by LMUD on the properties of owners who opt-in to receive wastewater service as part of the ODWW Project, have usage considerations that must be followed for the system to function properly, similar to that of a septic system. LMUD makes every attempt to notify the property owners of these guidelines before being connected. If these guidelines are followed, the system requires very little preventative maintenance. However, malfunctions are possible. Any irregularity in the system will trigger a red light and audible alarm to go off on the system’s control panel. If this happens, the property owner will need to call LMUD to investigate and remedy any problems with the system.

Previous presentations from LMUD showed this maintenance fee as a separate line item that would apply only to Out of District customers who opted-in to connect to the new public sewer system as part of the ODWW Project. It was stated as being optional at a rate of $5 per month. If the property owner chose not to pay this optional fee, they would be responsible for contracting with a plumber of their choice to perform all repairs and maintenance. “We found that not all plumbing companies offer service for grinder pumps. We’d rather our customers allow us to guarantee our work,” said Earl Foster, general manager for LMUD. “We know when each system was installed so we can routinely schedule maintenance to replace parts before they fail and because we have the specs for each system, we can quickly locate a problem and get it fixed.”

The Board approved to extend the maintenance plan to all LMUD customers (Out of District and In District). The maintenance plan includes the necessary repairs and preventative maintenance required to keep their wastewater system functioning properly. It applies to the system’s components including: collection tank, control floats, grinder pump, cleanout, control panel, and connected lines on the outside of the property’s building. It remains the property owner’s responsibility to contact LMUD in order to initiate a work order for any needed repairs. Any electrical-related issues or repairs needed beyond this scope continue to be the property owner’s responsibility. Customers with pre-existing grinder pumps (those not installed by LMUD) may incur some additional upfront fees depending on the brand and extent of repair needed. Effluent pumps, which run on 110V electricity (as opposed to 220V) and service only a portion of the property, are not included in this maintenance plan.

So far, LMUD has made approximately 20 connections on properties within the boundaries of the ODWW Project. Since LMUD is still in the process of installing the main lines and infrastructure required to build out this new wastewater system for phase 1, these were all Early Connection opt-ins by property owners who paid upfront fees after being granted approval from LMUD before being connected to nearby wastewater service lines that service the surrounding community. One hundred percent of these customers opted-in to the maintenance fee. Rates for customers already connected to the new system by LMUD will not change; they will just see a removal of the maintenance line item and an increase of $5 per month to their base rate charge. Customers in LMUD’s coverage area that had wastewater service from LMUD prior to this project will see an increase of $5 per month ($10 per billing cycle) added to their wastewater base charge; this increase only affects customers with grinder pumps on their property which will now be eligible for maintenance service from LMUD. This change goes into effect October 1, 2019 so customers will see it on their bill as early as December 1, 2019.

An updated copy of LMUD’s Rate Order can be found here.