Council adopts new rates for water, wastewater, and solid waste

City Council approved new residential water, wastewater, and solid waste rates at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The new water and wastewater rates come after a cost-of-service rate study was completed this summer by consultants NewGen Strategies and Solutions. The study helped determine the rates and rate structure needed to equitably fund the water utility, including all costs associated with operating, maintaining, and expanding the utility.

The new water rates include an increase of $1.50 to the average residential customer’s base rate. The change also includes reducing the number of tiers for the volumetric rate to help meet the council’s conservation goals.

Volumetric rates (per 1,000 gallons)

2019

2020

Gallons Cost Gallons Cost
0-10,000 $1.75 0-7,000 $1.85
10,001-20,000 $2.40 7,001-15,000 $2.75
20,001-40,000 $4 15,001-25,000 $4.80
40,001-60,000 $6.50 25,000 and more $8.40
60,001 and more $8.50

For the average water user using 10,200 gallons per month, the monthly water bill will increase to $46.25 from $40.98.

The council also approved increasing residential wastewater rates, which, for residential customers, will increase to $34.85, up from $32 per month.

The new water and wastewater rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

As part of the study, NewGen reviewed the costs associated with operating, maintaining, and expanding a utility and projected those costs over the next five years to determine the revenue required to cover those costs. In addition to expenses, the cost-of-service rate study also evaluated how the different types of customers, such as residential, industrial, and commercial users, used the system to make sure each type of ratepayer is paying their fair share and treated equitably.

The utility reviews its rates and impact fees every three years to ensure the costs to operate the utility are covered by the combination of rates, impact fees, and bond issuance. The last water rate study was completed in 2018. The rate study completed in 2020 was done a year early due to the anticipated need for additional revenue to help fund significant water and wastewater projects that have been accelerated to meet customer demand. Water rates were last adjusted for residential customers in 2014, nonresidential water rates in 2019, and wastewater rates for all customers in 2019.

The new rates will help meet the guidance set by City Council at its Aug. 25 meeting, which includes complying with set policy, making sure revenues are sufficient to cover the cost of operating the utility, encouraging conservation, and making costs of service equitable among customer types.

For more information on the new water/wastewater rates, the 2020 water rate study, and a year-by-year comparison of the new rates, visit gus.georgetown.org/water/2020-water-rate-study-faq.

Council also approved a $1.37 increase to residential customer solid waste rates to help cover an increase in costs from Texas Disposal Systems, the expansion of the Transfer Station, and the City’s household hazardous waste program. The updated solid waste rates go into effect Nov. 1.

City provides funding to help people affected by COVID-19 pay residential utility bills

The City of Georgetown has nearly $1 million in funding available to help residential utility customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their utility bills. Anyone who has lost their income since the start of this year may qualify for assistance.

The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program offers up to $1,500 to residential utility customers who have past due balances in 2020 and can show their income or employment has been affected by the pandemic or any resulting restrictions, such as the stay home orders that were in effect. Financial assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis while funds last. As of July 31, the City has provided $3,800 to help a total of eight customers.

“COVID-19 continues to take its toll on our local economy and on our neighbors,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “We specifically wanted to get the funding to people who desperately need help but might not have other ways to get it. Please, if you need help paying your bills, reach out and apply. We want to help.”

City Council authorized the funding in May to provide assistance to customers affected by the pandemics who don’t qualify for other, low-income assistance programs. Only 10 percent of the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program will go toward people who qualify for other assistance. Funding for the program comes from unanticipated income and special revenues in both our water and electric utilities.

The City partnered with Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties to administer the program. OWBC manages several assistance programs throughout the area.

“As the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has moved from a few weeks to many months, the need in our community is only increasing,” Director of Community Services Kori Ince said. “OWBC has additional funding and is ready to assist those in need. Please visit our website to apply.”

We are doing two waves of the program at $500,000 each. The first started June 1, and the second was released Aug. 1.

More information about the program and applications are available on OWBC’s website or by calling Customer Care at 512-930-3460.

Natural gas outage for 630 customers

UPDATE: As of 2 a.m. Sunday, gas was restored to the interrupted area and appliance relights began based on customer availability.

Thirty-seven service technicians began knocking on doors around 7 a.m. Sunday for those that had not already contacted Atmos for a relight.

By 5 p.m. Sunday, service to 573 gas meters had been restored, six were inactive accounts and did not need restoration, and the remaining 76 are awaiting customer availability.

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please call 1-866-322-8667 to talk with an Atmos Energy Customer Service Representative.

While continuing to test portions of Atmos Energy’s natural gas system, natural gas service was inadvertently shut off to approximately 630 customers within the 3000-3900 blocks of Williams Drive, east to Canyon Rd, and Axis Loop Area. Customers who have lost gas service can remain in their home as Atmos Energy works to restore services.

Evacuations are unnecessary.

Restoration of service is a three step process:

Step 1: Atmos Energy crews turn off gas service at each meter affected by the outage.

Step 2: Atmos Energy then purges the distribution system, to ensure that air is not in our pipelines.

Step 3: Atmos Energy crews go door-to-door to safely restore gas service and relight appliances.

Atmos Energy crews began shutting off service to each meter late Saturday evening. Atmos is deploying extra resources to work around the clock to safely restore natural gas service to the area.

Atmos plans to begin restoring service and relighting appliances at approximately 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 10.

Attached is a FAQ that will hopefully answer any questions customers may have. If you have additional questions or need assistance, please call 1-866-322-8667 to talk with an Atmos Energy Customer Service Representative.

FAQ for Atmos Energy outage on March 9, 2019.
Outage map for Atmos Energy for March 9, 2019.

City of Georgetown water customers unaffected by Austin or Belton boil water notices

No portion of the City of Georgetown’s water service territory is under a boil water notice. The City of Georgetown’s water supply comes from the Edwards Aquifer, and two lakes that are part of the Brazos River system, Lake Georgetown and Lake Stillhouse-Hollow. At the current time, Georgetown water supply and water treatment facilities are operating normally and no special actions are required of Georgetown utility customers.

Any changes to the current status or updates will be posted at Georgetown.org.

Georgetown Water Service Territory

The City of Georgetown serves about 44,000 water accounts representing about 110,000 customers in a 450-square-mile service area that includes Georgetown, western Williamson County and north into Bell and Burnet counties.

Modified irrigation schedule released for customers affected by water pump repair

Thanks to our great customers! Their efforts to reduce outdoor irrigation allowed water service to return to normal much earlier than originally projected. The repaired pump is working properly and the system is fully operational.

As promised, Georgetown Utility Systems is releasing a modified two-day per week outdoor irrigation schedule for the affected area.

Modified Irrigation Schedule for Affected Customers – 

  • Tuesday / Friday:  Addresses ending in 1, 5, 9
  • Wednesday / Saturday: Addresses ending in 2, 4, 6, 8
  • Thursday / Sunday: Addresses ending in 0, 3, 7

For a map of the area where irrigation is limited to twice per week, please click here.

If you need assistance adjusting your irrigation controller, please call Customer Care at 512-930-3640. A reminder to ALL Georgetown Utility Systems customers – #NoWateringMonday

This chart summarizes the modified irrigation schedule. The first row is the day of the week, and the boxes underneath indicate the last number of the address. For example, on Tuesday any addresses ending in 1, 5, or 9 can irrigate.
Area where automatic outdoor sprinkler use is limited to two days per week.

Area where automatic outdoor sprinkler use is limited to two days per week.

Water pump repair update for June 28

This past weekend there was a large water pump failure that reduced pumping capacity. The repair was successfully completed last night and the pump has been placed in service. City staff is monitoring and testing the system to ensure the replacement pump is operating correctly. All customers should be experiencing normal water pressure. If you do not have normal water pressure please call 512-930-3640.

Suspension of outdoor irrigation and unnecessary water use is still in effect until the City ensures the system is operating at full capacity. Hand watering is permitted at this time. The affected area is generally west of the City of Georgetown and around Liberty Hill. For a map of the area where irrigation is still suspended, please click here.

All notices related to lifting the boil water notice were hand-delivered by 6:30 p.m. yesterday. Updates on this situation will continue to be posted at Georgetown.org. A reminder to ALL Georgetown customers – #NoWateringMonday!

Crane lifting the motor that powers the repaired pump
Placing the motor on the repaired pump.
Finishing the motor installation on repaired pump
Installing the motor on the repaired pump
Repaired pump and motor installed
Map of area where outdoor irrigation is suspended.

Water pump repair update for the afternoon of June 27

Thanks to the good work of our customers, the water system is maintaining adequate pressure allowing the City to lift the boil water notice. The boil water notice was due to low pressure in the system. In situations like this, the City follows state protocol to ensure customer safety.

An independent laboratory has confirmed there are no contaminants in the system. The water is safe for consumption.

This past weekend there was a large water pump failure that reduced pumping capacity. Currently, the repaired pump has been delivered and city employees are working to reinstall and test the pump.

Suspension of outdoor irrigation and unnecessary water use is still in effect. Hand watering is permitted at this time. The affected area is generally west of the City of Georgetown and around Liberty Hill. For a map of the area where irrigation is still suspended, please click here.

Updates on this situation will be posted at Georgetown.org. A reminder to ALL Georgetown customers – #NoWateringMonday!

Repaired pump delivered to North Lake Pump Station
City employees using a crane to place the pump at the pump station
City employees dropping the pump into “the can”
Reinstalling the repaired pump at North Lake pump station
Preparing the motor to test the repaired pump

Phone Scammers Pose as City Employees

Phone scammers who claim to be requesting payment for a City of Georgetown utility account have recently called Georgetown utility customers. Seven local businesses have contacted the Customer Care Center for the utility to report someone calling and trying to get them to pay a utility bill over the phone.

Don’t be fooled.

A similar phone scam targeted local businesses and residents last year. The Georgetown Police Department has been notified of the current scam attempt.

The City utility does not call customers and demand payments over the phone says Leticia Zavala, customer care director for Georgetown Utility Systems. If a bill payment is overdue, Zavala says there is a three-step notification process:

First, late notices are mailed to customers with unpaid balances the day after the billing due date.

Second, an automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account two weeks after the billing due date.

Third, a second automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account three weeks after the billing due date.

It is strictly against policy for any customer service representative to accept payment in the field.

If customers have questions about a utility bill, call the Customer Care Center at (512) 930-3640 before giving out financial information regarding your utility account.