New water plant coming for drought-striken Spicewood Beach area

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

SPICEWOOD — A new water system takes shape, signaling the near-end of several communities and an elementary school relying on water trucked in for domestic use, officials say.

“We’re getting very close. We’re essentially complete with the construction for the new wells,”  said Utilities Operations Manager Darrin Barker, of Corix, the contractor handling construction. “We’re working very hard at the water treatment plant. We’re doing the final plumbing and wiring.”

Dwindling lake levels on the Colorado River remain a backdrop for communities including Spicewood Beach (pictured), Lakeside Beach and Eagle Bluff. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

Dwindling lake levels on the Colorado River remain a backdrop for communities including Spicewood Beach (pictured), Lakeside Beach and Eagle Bluff. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

The Spicewood Beach water system serves the community by the same name as well as Lakeside Beach, Eagle Bluff, Lake Oaks and Spicewood Elementary School.

In January 2012 the well, which supplies the community’s plant, dwindled to such low levels that the system malfunctioned.

Considered the first Texas city to “run out of water,” the situation prompted the Lower Colorado River Authority to start hauling five to seven tankers of water each day, at an estimated cost of $35,000 per month, to replenish storage tanks which fed the system.

Crews put the finishing touches on a water plant and equipment, expected to be online in mid-June, for the Spicewood Beach Water System in eastern Burnet County. The Lower Colorado River Authority has been trucking in several tanker loads of water after the community's water system malfunctioned about a year ago. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

Crews put the finishing touches on a water plant and equipment, expected to be online in mid-June, for the Spicewood Beach Water System in eastern Burnet County. The Lower Colorado River Authority has been trucking in several tanker loads of water after the community’s water system malfunctioned about a year ago. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

Corix drafted a plan for a water plant utilizing newly-drilled wells as well as available surface water.

Burnet County Commissioners secured seed money, a $350,000 Texas Department of Agriculture grant, to assist LCRA and Corix with the launch of the project.

By June 2, officials unveiled completed equipment and structures, including so-called infiltration galleries and a water treatment plant.

Officials expect to launch testing and asses lab results some time after June 9.

“Probably we’ll be producing water that would be able to go into the system by the second week in June,” he said.

The startup could end restrictive conservation measures throughout the communities since the initial system failure.

“Once we’re comfortable with that, I will make a request to LCRA to consider re-designating the drought restrictions from Stage 4 to Stage 3,” he said. “At that point people will be able to do outdoor hand watering.”

When the system is fully operational, LCRA is expected to halt water hauls into the community, he said.

LCRA is the owner of the Spicewood Beach system. Corix, negotiating the purchase of the system from LCRA, is the contractor and construction management partner.

connie@thepicayune.com

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