Turtle Creek 1 homeowners may get water with project

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

City officials aren’t so sure a new water system will be part of a proposed sewer project in the Turtle Creek 1 neighborhood in northwest Austin.



Public Works Director Steven Lang told the Austin City Council during a work session Monday about 19 out of 25 property owners supported putting in water services as part of an upcoming project to install a sewer system to 28 properties.

According to Austin Utilities General Manager Mark Nibaur, the utilities company will only build a water system for the recently annexed Austin neighborhood if 90 percent or more of the residents support it. That means 25 out of 28 properties need to let the utilities company know they want city water services.

Email newsletter signup

Lang doesn’t think the project will get that much support.

“I’d estimate it at about 75 to 80 percent,” he told council members.

The Austin Utilities Board of Directors is set to discuss the issue during a March 17 meeting, where they could lower their standard if property owners prove persuasive. Utilities officials will also conduct their own survey of the 28 properties.

If water isn’t included in the project, it will cost homeowners far more to have the utilities company do a separate water system installation down the road.

The council will discuss whether to move forward with the project on April 6, where they will have final say on what the project will entail. While the city will likely drop a proposed asphalt paving project, it’s unclear whether enough residents will support a water system in time.

“We really aren’t going to know until that night where the people side with water,” Lang said.

Several Turtle Creek 1 homeowners have tried to get sewer and water access to the neighborhood, formerly of Austin Township, since 2013.

The council formally approved the annex in late 2013, and work went under way to hook those residents up to the city’s sewer and water grid.

Public Works Director Steven Lang gave a presentation on the Turtle Creek 1 projects last year, showing the sewer hookup would cost about $22,900 per property for the sewer project, and about $9,500 to install the water main in the neighborhood. The project could include a potential street paving project for about $4,600 and a water service hookup for about $1,500, should residents wish to have that included.

Yet after consulting with Austin Utilities, city officials found the cost to complete those projects would rise.

Though Council Member Jeremy Carolan suggested rebidding the project, Lang said a rebid wouldn’t substantially drive costs down.

City officials secured $461,000 from a Point Source Implementation Grant, as well as another $98,000 to help bring costs down after project bids came in much higher than anticipated. Lang told the audience the city had estimated the projects would cost about $614,000, but the lowest bid cost about $901,000.

Lang told residents last week the increased price tag was due to labor and rising material costs. Though Council Member Jeremy Carolan suggested rebidding the project, Lang said a rebid wouldn’t substantially drive costs down.

A sewer project will now cost about $17,000 per household, with an additional $12,000 per household for water.

City staff are also giving Turtle Creek 1 residents a little more leeway when it comes to hooking up to the city’s systems. Residents can either pay the assessment cost for planned sewer work all at once, over the next 15 years, or wait to hook up to the sewer system.

The two homes with compliant sewer systems can wait up to five years before hooking up to the city.

City staff are using an assessment model with Turtle Creek 1 residents rather than its recently designed sewer access fee charge as the city began working on the project before the fee was in place.