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As Lawn Watering Slows Down, Wastewater Charges are Calculated
Your water utility charges you for the clean water they supply to your home through the use of a water meter, but it requires a bit more creativity to determine how much to charge for the treatment of water flowing out of your home since wastewater is not metered.
Water utilities aim to only charge you for the wastewater that ends up being treated at their wastewater treatment plant, so household seasonal use trends are taken into account. For example, during hot summer months, outdoor water use can account for as much as 60 percent of a household’s total use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The water waste from this use seeps into the ground or evaporates and is not treated at a wastewater plant. However, during the winter months, outdoor water use is significantly reduced, primarily because outdoor activities are minimal and it’s when warm-season turf grass will naturally go dormant, requiring little to no supplemental irrigation. This is the time period when most water utilities will implement wastewater averaging (also known as “winter averaging”) to calculate their customers’ billed wastewater volume.
Each water utility will calculate their customers’ wastewater volume rate differently. Some take a true average of a household’s metered water use during a period of several months typically spanning between November through February. Lakeway MUD selects the customer’s lowest volume use during the winter months and uses it to calculate their wastewater volume charge for the next 12-month period.
Residents can significantly reduce their future water utility bills by limiting their water use during their utility’s wastewater averaging period each year. Cut back on your outdoor water use to account for the cooler temperatures and precipitation variations and maximize low-flow or energy-efficient options indoors, such as with toilets, shower heads, the dishwasher and washing machine.
Usage during these winter months not only helps your water utility decide what to charge you, but it also helps with their long-range planning. Each treatment plant is permitted for a maximum inflow capacity that it can reliably process per day. As a community grows, it places more demand on these plants, eventually leading to a need to upgrade or expand it…or apply more pressure on their customers to conserve or cut back further on their water consumption.
According to the EPA, “The first step in changing the way you use water in the future is by understanding how much water you use today.” Residents interested in minimizing their water bill pay close attention to when and where they are using their water during the winter months, but we encourage everyone to remain conscientious of their water use year round. Many water utilities, including Lakeway MUD’s recently implemented WaterSmart system, have capabilities that allow their customers to monitor their water use, compare it to similar size households, offer water-saving tips, and detect leaks earlier.•
Originally published in Lake Travis View, Nov. 2022
How to Water your Lawn Efficiently and Effectively
Plants absorb water through the roots which are opportunistic. They will grow when and where there is water.
- Deep infrequent watering creates deep roots.
- Shallow frequent watering creates short roots.
As water evaporates from the soil surface, short rooted plants and lawns will need water more often. Deep rooted plants and lawns will be able to absorb water from the deeper soil, over a longer period of time.
- Water lawns slowly, allowing water to reach a depth of six inches. This approach also reduces disease, helps insure good air movement down to the root system, and conserves water.
- Avoid shallow, frequent watering, which creates short roots.•
Reprinted with permission from txsmartscape.com.
Healthy Lawn Maintenance
Turf grasses have the highest water demand and the highest maintenance requirements of all planting options, however remain the most popular yard choice. To keep it healthy:
- A good layer of fertilizer in the fall will help replace any nutrients lost during the summer.
- Gradually lowering the mower blade throughout the year allows the lawn to adjust and help to grow thick and hearty grass.
- Maintain at least six inches of healthy soil under your turf grass and aerate your lawn once a year to improve drainage and reduce soil compaction.
The LMUD Resource Center at the District Office (1097 Lohmans Crossing) has free literature available for customers to take home about water-efficient landscaping and irrigation practices.
LMUD WaterSmart Portal Now Available
LMUD’s new WaterSmart platform allows customers access to detailed information about their household water use. Customers are able to track their hourly and daily water usage, self-identify and resolve leaks, understand where their water is being used, compare their water use to similar households, and set water use alerts.
Registration is easy!
Access your personalized, secure online customer portal from any device (desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smart phones):
STEP 1: Log on
STEP 2: Register
Enter your account number (listed on your water bill)
and your zip code.
STEP 3: Personalize
Answer a simple profile survey to provide accurate
comparisons to similar households.
For more information and helpful videos, visit: lakewaymud.org/update/watersmart
Take the Pledge to Take Care of Texas
The best way to Take Care of Texas is by learning about how we affect the natural environment of our state on a personal and community level. By educating yourself and others about Air, Water, and Waste topics, you are becoming a more environmentally conscious Texan!
Take the Pledge at takecareoftexas.org/take-action/take-pledge.
Plumbing 101: Closed Loop Water Supply Systems
Current plumbing code requires homes connected to a municipal water supply to be on a “Closed” loop system to help prevent water from flowing back into the provider’s water system. Homes with a traditional tank-style water heater are required to install an expansion tank and backflow preventer (or check valve) to protect their plumbing system and the municipal water supply against thermal expansion.
What causes thermal expansion?
As water heats up, it expands in volume which can put a strain on your water heater and plumbing system and may become a safety hazard if the proper provisions are not in place. Residents that have backflow prevention devices attached to their water line are at an increased risk to thermal expansion.
What is a thermal expansion tank?
A thermal expansion tank is a device that helps to relieve the pressure within a home’s internal plumbing due to normally fluctuating pressures within the home, usually caused by the heating of water by a water heater.
If you have an expansion tank, it’s important to make sure that you also have a check valve (or dual check valve) installed on the service line and vice versa. In the absence of a check valve (or dual check valve) and with the presence of an expansion tank, fluctuations in water pressure in the distribution system may cause cyclical forward and backward movement on your water meter. When this occurs, the flow indicator on your water meter can change from a positive read (the direction the flow indicator should move in) to negative read (the incorrect direction).
What is a dual check valve?
A dual check valve is a device used to ensure that water flows in a single direction through your water meter. Proper installation of a dual check valve is required by LMUD as it prevents water from flowing out of a customer’s residence and back into the public water supply system, protecting against potential contamination.
How can I tell if a dual check valve is installed?
Check valves are typically installed close to your water meter on the customers’ side (closest to your house). There is typically an arrow on the check valve itself, which indicates the direction of the water flow. This arrow should be pointing away from the meter and toward your internal plumbing.
What if I don’t have a dual check valve?
While you may be able to install one yourself, LMUD recommends that you hire a professional plumber to ensure the job is done correctly. It will require a Plumbing Permit to be pulled to ensure it is installed correctly. •
We were impressed with [the crew’s] care and quality workmanship, and look forward to their efforts on [our street].
– Page S., RE: Main Sewer Line Extension
Thank you for being proactive when leaks happen. WOW Lakeway MUD is the BEST.
– Nancy G., RE: Leak Notification
Gosh, I cannot get over how responsive you are. We are so lucky to have LMUD.
– – Skip B., RE: Customer Service
Rate Change Notice
Fiscal Year 2023 Rates were approved at the October 12, 2022 Board of Directors meeting. This included a $2 increase to the base rates for water and wastewater services provided by LMUD. This is the first rate increase to the base charge LMUD has had in over 10 years and was necessary to help offset rapid inflation and supply chain shortages. Information on these rates can be found in the LMUD Rate Order or by visiting lakewaymud.org/customers/rates.
Credit/Debit card Convenience Fee Added
The LMUD Board of Directors approved an automatic $2 convenience fee to each credit or debit card transaction, starting with the December 2022 bill cycle, to help offset the cost of bank fees which totaled approx. $75K in fiscal year 2022. Customers may still pay by cash, check, or ACH transfer payments with no additional fees. Customers on Auto Pay can choose to switch from credit/debit card to bank draft by logging into their account at lakewaymud.org. For more information on AutoPay, visit lakewaymud.org/update/autopay-sign-up-instructions.
ODWW Project Connections Status
The Out of District Wastewater (ODWW) Project, offering impacted property owners in the first 17 sections of Lakeway the option to convert from septic to a public sewer system, broke ground in May 2019. At time of publishing, over 60 percent of the main sewer lines have been installed as well as the majority of the supporting infrastructure (plant expansion and a central lift station). Approx. 163 connections to the new sewer system have been made: 66 Early connections installed by LMUD, 21 Early connections by contractors (this options was added in March 2021), and 76 Regular connections (along the Live Oak Golf Course, which began in October 2021). With approx. 1,300 properties in the Project area (not all eligible or in need of connection), we estimate we about 15 percent of the eligible connections are complete. Prior to the delays that we continue to experience from the pandemic including staffing and supply shortages as well as rising costs, the Project was initially projected to be completed over a 10- year span. More information about the Project can be found at lakewaymud.org/odww-project.
WaterSmart Portal Now Available
LMUD recently launched a WaterSmart portal which allows customers to track their hourly and daily water usage, self-identify and resolve leaks, understand where their water is being used, compare their water use to similar households, and set water use alerts. Customers can register for free with their account number and zip code at lakewaymudtx.watersmart.com.
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 (irrigation), but exclusively for commercial accounts. This type of recycled water system decreases the production demand of our water treatment plant and the amount of water we have to pull out of Lake Travis. LMUD is now offering access to this system for irrigation purposes to select residential accounts along the Live Oak Golf Course where reuse water lines were laid in conjunction with wastewater lines as part of the ODWW Project. Customers can contact us for more information to see if they are eligible or visit lakewaymud.org/update/reuse-residential.
Fiscal Year 2022 Summary
LMUD’s Fiscal Year 2022 ended September 30, 2022. Revenues were 119.18% of budget primarily due to a record-breaking hot, dry summer. Expenses were slightly over budget at 100.57% primarily due to higher than anticipated raw water expense to furnish customers’ increase in water use. Excess revenue over budget is being used to offset price increases and supply chain shortages.
Full-Time Maintenance Worker: No experience required, just the ability to work hard with a good attitude, be a team player, and have a willingness to learn a skilled trade. Responsibilities include the construction, repair, and maintenance of LMUD’s water distribution and wastewater collection systems. Positions are full-time, 40 hours per week, with occasional overtime. Starting salary is $17 to $20 per hour based on experience plus benefits and available overtime. All work is located in Lakeway, Texas. Must have reliable transportation to and from job. Company vehicle provided while on site with valid driver’s license. Must agree to drug free workplace policy and be able to complete strenuous manual labor.
Additional job information and application available at lakewaymud.org/about-us/job-openings or by visiting our District office. •