Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”
– Sylvia Earle, marine biologist
Hard to state it any more simply than that. Water may very well be the most important service provided by the City of Round Rock.
So we take it seriously, and have for the past 40 years. That’s why the City is so well positioned today to have enough water when Round Rock reaches its projected ultimate population of 250,000. That’s decades away, but when you’re talking about planning a water utility, that’s the kind of time horizon you look at.
That doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t worry about conserving water. By all means, take advantage of the City’s many conservation programs and educate yourself on how you can lower your bills by watering wisely.
But one of the key elements in Round Rock’s ability to manage its inexorable growth is a forward-thinking utility that delivers reliable, affordable water.
Long story short, Round Rock pretty much ran out of water in 1978. The combination of a prolonged drought, sole reliance on the Edwards Aquifer and rapid residential development meant folks went without water for a short period of time. City leaders vowed then to never put the community in that kind of situation again, and that led to the development of the strong, stable water utility we have today.
How strong? The last round of debt issued by the utility, in December 2017, earned an AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s, the highest possible. Round Rock is the only Central Texas city with this rating for its utility.
That rating was the culmination of four decades of hard work. After the wells went dry in ’78, the City contracted with the Brazos River Authority (BRA) to purchase water from Lake Georgetown. The City built a plant on the north end of town to treat that water. As growth continued, the City acquired future water supplies from the BRA, and ultimately partnered with other utilities to build a 28-mile pipeline to Lake Stillhouse Hollow near Belton.
The forward thinking continued in 2006, when Round Rock partnered with Cedar Park and Leander to create the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority to treat and deliver water from Lake Travis. (There was no more future water to be acquired from the BRA.) Phase 1 of the regional project was completed in 2012, and Cedar Park and Leander have been utilizing the system for their customers since then. Round Rock isn’t expected to need Lake Travis water until 2020.
So the water is there, and the infrastructure is in place, when we do need it. And will continue to be, even when our population more than doubles. That’s what Future Forward is all about.