LCRA acquired the WWS system in 2003 from Merchants Bank. The bank also provided LCRA with $110,000 to offset future costs. In 2010, LCRA announced they would be selling 29 water, wastewater, and intake barges, the WWS system included. LCRA initially preferred a “one buyer” to recover as much of the $300 million they had invested and the monthly $300,000 operating loss.
The members of WWS quickly realized that if our water system was sold to a for-profit company, the capital recovery costs would be passed along to our members as fees, as much as $150 per month in addition to water usages charges. Aqua Texas was one such for-profit companies bidding for the LCRA water systems “package”. With a BBB rating of D-, you can read the many negative Aqua Texas customer reviews.
In response, many concerned WWS residents organized a “coalition” that included representatives from other LCRA affected systems. They formed the Coalition of Central Texas Utilities Development Corporation (UDC), a legal entity with the ability to obtain financing and transact business. The UDC would operate as a “pass-through” entity; after purchasing the water system “package” from LCRA, the UDC would sell the individual systems to its stakeholders (Eg. the WSWSC).
Then, LCRA moved away from their original “one buyer” policy and in March 2011, we were invited to submit a proposal for the acquisition of the WWS system alone. In order to participate in the UDC proposal and to interact with LCRA, three WWS residents (Trish Lambert, Bill Hiers, and Frank Caramanica) formed the Whitewater Springs Water Supply Corporation (WSWSC), a non-profit corporation that operates according to state law and will manage the water system after acquiring it. UDC and WSWSC were now in direct competition for the WWS water system.
Those founding WSWSC members solicited more members from the current water tap holders, who paid a membership fee in order to hire a lawyer to manage the negotiations with LCRA. The final negotiation price was $380,000 and the attorney advised the WSWSC to take the deal.
We secured a loan for $425,000 through a commercial bank, Extraco in Georgetown with a USDA guarantee. The $45,000 addition to the purchase price was to cover the future operating expenses. The deal was consummated in July 2012 and we were in the water business!
The WSWSC is a non-profit 501c12 Corporation formed under Texas Law for Water Supply Corporations. We have a Board of Directors composed of 5 members elected only by members of the Corporation:
- Bill Hiers, President
- David Stokes, Director
- Frank Caramanica, Vice President
- David Giles, Treasurer
- Gregg Thompson, Director
- Oscar Saint, ex-Director and Operations VP
The Board of Directors serve staggered 3-year terms and are not compensated in any way except reimbursement expenses involved with supporting the Corporation. The WSWSC is subject to the regulations in the Texas Open Meeting Act and currently meet on a quarterly basis at the Bertram library. Notifications about the meetings are posted on this website and on the Bulletin Board at the mailboxes. Your $500 membership fee entitles you to one vote. If you have multiple taps, you are still only entitled to one vote so no individual or entity can control the Board.
If you would like to receive immediate emails about upcoming meetings or follow up meeting minutes, please subscribe.
Professional General Management Services (PGMS) perform all the routine operations, maintenance functions, meter readings, billing and most of the accounting functions. They are on-call 24/7 at 1-866-643-3472 (toll-free).
Most of the water system was installed by the original developers in 1998-2000. The main assets are:
- 3 wells
- 100,000 gallon ground storage tank
- 4,000 gallon pressure tank
- Approximately 15 miles of 2”-8” PVC piping
- Various pumps, valves, pressure reducers
The system is split into the “pressure” side and the “gravity” side. The pressure side provides water to the homes along the top of the hills and the gravity side to the homes in the valleys below. The four planes in the water system are separated by pressure reducers and all the water lines are “looped” so water is equalized throughout the system. Bill Hiers can provide more technical details to those interested.
The high quality water comes from Trinity Aquifer and is border line moderate / hard (11 gr/gal). If you install an tankless water heater, we recommend you also install a water softener. Otherwise a water softener is a personal preference. Since we are surrounded by the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, and there are few competing wells, we should have a reliable source of water for many future years. We have been monitoring the aquifer level since August 2013 and it has fluctuated about 10 feet since then; the current column height is 110 feet.
Each member of the WSWSC has a vested interest in ensuring we have a sustainable source of high-quality water for the foreseeable future. We actively encourage water conservation to protect our aquifer. Please consider rainwater collection and use of native and drought-resistant plants and grasses. Grass types that are suited to Austin, Dallas, and Houston will not survive here without excessive amounts of water. An excellent guide available at most local nurseries is Native and Adapted Landscape Plants an Earthwise Guide for Central Texas. You can also visit growgreen.org for more information. In addition, we have many members in WWS that are Master Gardeners and Naturalists and will be happy to help with suggestions on suitable plantings.
Since the takeover from LCRA, our goal is to reduce our water losses as much as possible throughout the entire system. We experienced several “events” where pipes/valves have broken due to vehicles or individuals or faulty installation. The white or blue pipes sticking out of the ground throughout WWS protect valves on the main water line and contact with these pipes from a vehicle or a lawn mower can break the vavle, causing a leak. These leaks can go undetected for years because of the fractured geology of the area. We have spent hundreds of hours walking every line, inspecting each valve riser and pressure reducer vault for leaks. In 2014, we hired a leak detection company to “acoustically” check the system and they found 11 more leaks that we had missed. All those leaks were fixed in 2014. You can help by looking for wet spots or water in the riser columns and reporting them to PGMS and our Board of Directors.
We have also added improvements to the system with Auto-Read Meters (ARM). These new meters are accurate to the second decimal place (0.01) of a gallon and can be read by a computer program in a vehicle driving near the meter box. These meters are on every active customer tap and all 3 wells. In addition, ARM can can detect small leaks on the customer side (your property). ARM automatically records water used every hour for a period of several months and sends an alert to the water monitoring software that a potential leak (defined as “continuous water consumption” for at least 72 hours) has been detected (ie. Toilet flapper valves, hose bibs, swimming pools, fish ponds, or faulty watering timers). You’ll be notified about a potential leak, saving you from a staggering water bill!
In 2014-2015, we cleaned and inspected the main storage tank. We also took the pressure tank offline, cleaned, and recoated the inside with epoxy paint. The down-hole pump on Well #1 was removed and replaced. Both of these jobs occurred without interruption to the customer and all wells are now at full production.