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Water Matters: April – July 2022 edition

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May 1-7, 2022 is nationally recognized as Drinking Water Week. It provides a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to recognize the vital role water plays in our daily lives. Join us to celebrate our 50th anniversary during Drinking Water Week for a greater understanding of our role and yours in the water cycle.


LMUD Celebrates 50 Years of Service

“In 1971, there were 300 houses on 1,000 acres in Lakeway. Out of necessity and to safeguard Lake Travis from contamination, a committee was formed to manage wastewater needs and potable water services. On February 17, 1972 TCEQ approved the formation of ‘Lakeway Municipal Utility District No. 1’ (soon after dropping the ‘No.1’) becoming one of the first MUDs in Texas and the first utility company in Lakeway. LMUD proceeded to make strategic infrastructure investments in the community including one of the state’s first innovative approaches to water conservation with a water reuse system to irrigate Lakeway’s golf courses, starting with Yaupon Golf Course in 1975. They went on to make history in 1994 by becoming the first water provider in Texas to utilize a water reuse system in a residential area: Estates of Lakeway Hills. In 1987, Lakeway’s iconic golf ball water tower was commissioned by LMUD out of the necessity to bring much needed additional water pressure to the growing community. This was the area’s second elevated water tower, built after a tower near the World of Tennis in 1973. To this day, LMUD continues to be recognized as a leader in water quality management, working closely with residents and the City of Lakeway to provide sustainable growth to the community by providing services that support environmental and public health initiatives.”

This is the text from the historical marker that was bestowed upon LMUD’s district office in 2020 by the Lakeway Heritage Committee in honor of our commitment to the city. This year marks LMUD’s 50th year of service to the community of Lakeway and we are celebrating it by recognizing the people behind the organization from the past and present. “The theme we decided on is a puzzle,” said Stephanie Threinen, LMUD’s Public Information Liaison. “Each customer, each employee, each board or committee member from past and present is an essential piece of our story: who we are and what we are able to accomplish. Without them, where would we be?”

Each customer, each employee, each board or committee member from past and present is an essential piece of our story.

Earl Foster, LMUD’s General Manager who has served LMUD for 16 years, said, “One of the original founders of Lakeway, Edward W. Plodzik, was our first board president in 1972. Our former board president, Jerry Hietpas, faithfully volunteered with us since 2005. Our current longest-serving employee, Rafael Mendoza, LMUD’s Water Department Supervisor, has been on our team since 1998, followed by our Wastewater and Field Departments Supervisor, Roger Fry, who has been with us since 2000. We have customers who have been with us for a long time, who have seen us evolve over the years and express their gratitude for us not being just ‘another utility provider,’ but a valued part of the community. We know it’s the hard work & commitment of our team and the faith our customers show in us that make us who we are, and we are eternally grateful to each one of them.”

“As we move into the future,” Foster continued, “our focus is on water conservation: finding new ways to address drought. Our community continues to grow and with it, demand, but we only have one water source: Lake Travis, so we must implement innovative approaches to water management, matched by a commitment from our customers to use only what they need.”

Water reuse is using recycled or treated wastewater (reclaimed water) for beneficial purposes, such as irrigation. LMUD was an early adopter of using recycled water for irrigation and we continue to expand this system to save the amount of water that is taken out of Lake Travis. Foster’s foresight for the Out of District Wastewater Project – launched in 2018 to extend the utility’s public wastewater collection system into the first 17 sections of Lakeway to protect Lake Travis from contamination by the bordering failing septic systems – also included running recycled water lines along with the new wastewater lines. This expansion of the reclaimed water system will allow over 300 homes to connect to this alternate water source for irrigation purposes. Christianne Castleberry, LMUD’s engineer since 2007, said, “This has the potential for reducing potable water use by approximately 267 gallons per day per home which equates to roughly 32 million gallons or a 97 acre-ft savings in water taken from Lake Travis per year.”

…we only have one water source: Lake Travis, so we must implement innovative approaches to water management, matched by a commitment from our customers to use only what they need.

Late last year, LMUD installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) water meters district-wide. These “smart” meters utilize the latest technology in water metering to provide the utility with more insights on water usage, including the ability to detect and respond to leaks faster to prevent water loss. In the near future, LMUD customers will have access to an app that will allow them to track their hour-by-hour water use and set alerts about potential leaks in their home with tips for identifying the source.

Loyd Smith, LMUD’s Finance/Admin Manager since 2012 and a Lakeway resident since 2009 said, “Lakeway MUD is truly a unique utility that goes above and beyond to serve their customers. Take the ice storm last year for example: our field guys were out there at all hours of the day and night, some in their own personal vehicles that could handle the icy roads, not only helping shut off our customers’ water meters, but working in conjunction with the city to provide bottled water and other supplies to those in need. So much of what our team does on a daily basis goes unnoticed because clean water and wastewater services are just expected. We’re hoping to change that and develop increasingly positive relationships with the people we serve.” •

Originally written by LMUD for Lake Travis View, published March 2022


EVENT: Drinking Water Week

May 2-6, 2022 from 10am to noon each day
LMUD District Office (1097 Lohmans Crossing)

Help us celebrate our 50th anniversary during Drinking Water Week, May 2 – 6, 2022 between 10am to noon. Giveaways will be handed out featuring water-saving tips and LCRA rebates, plus activities to take home for kids. We look forward to seeing you there! lakewaymud.org/events


Benefits of Water Chlorination

Did you know that 98 percent of water treatment plants nationwide utilize chlorine as a disinfectant to prevent water-borne illnesses and disease? Chlorine effectively kills a large variety of water-borne pathogens, including those linked to dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever. In fact typhoid fever has essentially been eliminated thanks to water chlorination. In the 1990s, Life magazine was quoted as saying, “the filtration of drinking water and use of chlorine is probably the most significant public advance of the millennium.”

The filtration of drinking water and use of chlorine is probably the most significant public advance of the millennium.

Along with water treatment processes (like sedimentation and filtration), chlorination allows water to be safe for public consumption. Not only is chlorination used to eliminate harmful microorganisms, but also to reduce the chance of pathogen growth in storage tanks or water distribution systems, where water can often sit until needed. Now that the use of chlorine for drinking water is widely used, government bodies have set guidelines for the amount of residual chlorine that must be present at all points of a water system, while also keeping it at safe levels for human consumption. •

Source: Texas Water Utilities Association


Kindness Goes a Long Way in Customer-Provider Relationships

Think about how many services you use on a daily basis. How often do you interact with the providers of those services? Do you look forward to those interactions? …Do you think the providers look forward to interacting with you? As a provider of water and wastewater services, we aim to build mutually-beneficial relationships with each of our customers. We know the value we provide and we want our customers to understand the impact on their daily lives of, not just our products and services, but the people who make them possible. Whether it’s an interaction with our customer service representative over the phone, a service technician at your home responding to your request, or a maintenance worker improving our distribution system, relationships are built overtime, with many ups and downs, but with a good-faith effort to understand each other’s promises and expectations.

We challenge you to lead with empathy and a renewed commitment to making a positive impact during every encounter you have with a service provider. A public display of this pledge may come in the form of signs of gratitude, adherence to regulations, or sharing feedback about your experience. During interactions with service providers, we encourage customers to make a concerted effort to:

  • Be proactive: Ask questions and share concerns as they come up rather than letting things fester.
  • Go to the source: Hearsay is powerful, yet often lacking full details.
  • Invest in up front communication: Clearly and respectfully discuss your needs with the provider.
  • Be available: to answer questions, provide access, etc.
  • Be flexible: Assume your provider is doing their best to get to you as quickly as they can.
  • Stay on topic: Getting to know you or helping with other things that weren’t scheduled is great, if time allows.
  • Confirm your understanding: Before each interaction is complete, there should be an agreed understanding of what the service provider is responsible for and what is your responsibility.
  • Share your feedback: For better or worse, your service provider wants to hear about the results of your interaction with their team. Praise is always appreciated, as well as constructive criticism.

There are also many ways service providers can aid in developing positive relationships with their customers, such as:

  • Start on a first name basis: Make each interaction more personal than an anonymous service provider assisting an account number.
  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: Have a mindset to first understand your customer (by being attentive and asking questions), then seek to solve the customer’s relevant problem.
  • Articulate your expertise: Focus on what you can do exceptionally well and be transparent about what is outside your scope of work.
  • Be accountable: Everyone makes mistakes, but own up to yours and your team’s; take proactive steps to quickly fix them.
  • Follow up: For longer projects, regular, detailed status updates help instill customer confidence. Anticipate questions, share your insights, and be easy to reach even after the work is complete.
  • Celebrate wins with customers: Recognize how your services bring value to their lives.
  • Learn and grow: Use what you learn from your experiences to provide even better service moving forward.

There’s no right way to script the perfect customer-provider interaction because each situation has unique needs. But, when we lead with kindness and understanding, whether it’s an interaction with a service provider, your spouse, a co-worker, or someone standing next to you at the checkout counter, the recipient is more likely to treat you well (and others they meet with throughout their day), too. •

Originally written by LMUD for Lake Travis View, published Jan. 2022


Updates

ANNUAL WATER QUALITY REPORT RELEASED IN JUNE

EPA requires community water systems to deliver a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as an annual drinking water quality report, to their customers each year by July 1st. The most recent version of this report is mailed or e-mailed annually to customers upon publication as well as made available on our website and at our office located at 1097 Lohmans Crossing Road throughout the year. LMUD complies with all state and federal water quality standards and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) confirms each year the safety of our drinking water. lakewaymud.org/about-us/about-your-water

WATERSMART OFFERS LEAK ALERTS DETECTION, ETC.

With the completion of new metering technology this past winter, LMUD is able to offer customers direct access to data about their water usage. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters provide near real-time water usage data that can be used to analyze water consumption patterns and detect abnormal consumption due to leaks, faucets running, etc. To give our customers direct access to their data, we have decided to go with WaterSmart, which provides a Customer Portal to access current account information and interactive alerting capabilities regardless of your device or platform. Upon publication, release date is pending, but we will communicate to customers once sign-up is available. lakewaymud.org/update/watersmart

RESIDENTIAL REUSE FOR IRRIGATION MADE AVAILABLE IN SELECT SERVICE AREA

Since the 1970s, LMUD has been a leader in the beneficial reuse of treated wastewater for land application, but exclusively for commercial accounts. A recycled water system decreases the demand on our water plant and the amount of water we have to pull out of Lake Travis. This summer, LMUD will begin offering access to this system to residential accounts along the Live Oak Golf Course where reuse lines were laid in conjunction with wastewater lines as part of the Out of District Wastewater (ODWW) Project. Impacted customers will be contacted directly for more information once it is available in their area. lakewaymud.org/odww-project


How to check for Leaks on Your New AMI Meter

If you’ve ever tried to read your meter before you will notice that the head of your new AMI meter looks different than what you may be used to, with non-moving parts and a digital display. If you suspect a leak, look for a water-drop symbol in the upper right corner of the display. If you’re assessing your current usage, the upper left side shows your current flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM).

 

Do you know your irrigation schedule?

VISIT:
lakewaymud.org/customers/irrigation-schedule

Do you know how to shut off your water meter?

VISIT:
lakewaymud.org/update/how-to-shut-off-your-water


Public Comments

“No water, no golf! The Lakeway Municipal Utility District is committed to conserving and reusing its water supplies wherever possible. The District reuses its water in outdoor applications, including watering its golf courses!”

Texas AWWA, Twitter post

“I would like to publicly applaud the service of our Lakeway MUD and Lakeway Police Department.

I have alerted LMUD to 3 neighbors who had burst pipes. Their technicians arrived promptly (even during the bitter cold on the Friday evening). Today the technician not only stopped the break, but was able to execute a simple repair, and restored water service. That was a critical service as the homeowner is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday and couldn’t be without water.

The Police Department has provided their customary professional service, and has been coordinating with the MUD to alert them to water breaks, particularly if they might impact a roadway.

We are fortunate to have such great professionals in Lakeway.”

Lakeway Mayor Kilgore, Lakeway Broadcast post