By Shannon McIntire
In May, installation of two new pumps at Lake Stillhouse Hollow was completed just in time to meet the high water demand of summer. The additional pumps make a total of four pumps available to move water from Lake Stillhouse Hollow to Lake Georgetown.
The pumps at Lake Stillhouse Hollow help keep water levels at Lake Georgetown from getting too low. Four area entities draw water from Lake Georgetown: the City of Round Rock, the City of Georgetown, Brushy Creek MUD, and Chisholm Trail Special Utility District. The new pumps are a collaborative effort by all four entities, coordinated by the Brazos River Authority.
Currently, two pumps are working to pump water. When Lake Georgetown reaches pre-determined water levels, it triggers the use of the pumps in Lake Stillhouse Hollow.
“Lake Georgetown is shaped like a “v” in that it is narrower at the deepest level than it is on the surface,” says Michael Thane, Director of Utilities. “So the lower the lake gets, the quicker the levels start to drop.”
Having the new pumps installed will be a big help in keeping Lake Georgetown supplied with water during the current drought. In the hot, dry summer of 2009, Lake Stillhouse Hollow had plenty of water but with only two pumps working, there wasn’t the capacity to get the water to Lake Georgetown where the City could use it.
“It was a nervous time,” says Michael. “We are very glad to have these additional pumps installed and ready to go. They give us important access to our raw water supplies to help us meet our demands. We need the pumps to be able to push more water through the pipes.”
Record high demand
The City is experiencing record high water demands this summer.
“We’ve broken our all-time record for water use nine times this year,” says Michael. “Of course, part of that is because our population keeps growing, so our use can be expected to increase. But part of it is due to the low rainfall levels this year.”
Currently, we are pumping 27.4 million gallons a day from Lake Stillhouse Hollow. If all four pumps were turned on, we could pump approximately 42 million gallons a day.
Michael expects the demand will decrease as residents start to get their water bills for June and see exactly how much they are spending on water.
“My guess is people will begin to cut back once they see the bill,” says Michael. “Our system is holding up well but, with no rain in sight, we really have to manage the lakes. We’ve increased our public outreach to encourage people to follow the two day water schedule.”