Water and Wastewater Utility Tap Plans

Posted: 3:09 p.m. Saturday, May 23, 2015

What is a utility tap?
Why do I need a tap plan signed and sealed by a professional engineer?

A Utility Tap plan is a utility service connection to an existing water or wastewater utility main.WATERMAININSTALL
The utility mains are maintained by Austin Water.  Each property that is served or is proposed to be served has to have a single or double utility tap to the property with a separate meter and/or clean-out for each unit on the property.   The Taps Office processes this permit for both residential and commercial customers.

In order to tap the main, upgrade an existing tap, upgrade a meter, cutover from well or septic tank the AWU Taps Office requires a Tap Application to be filed.

There is not an application fee, however, several items are needed in order to process the application. These requirements are different for both residential and commercial.

a-water-The Perales Engineering, LLC team have decades of combined utility design  experience all around the City of Austin and surrounding areas and have a close relationship with the Austin Water Utility review staff and know exactly what is required resulting in a timely plan approval for both private residences and public commercial properties.  Please contact Jose Jimenez in our Utility Tap Plan Department @ 512-220-7070,  josejimenez@peraleseng.com for more information.

How do I know if I need a Utility Tap Plan.

The intent of the Utility Tap Plan is to ensure that prior to beginning a residential project, adequate water and wastewater services can be provided to the site and is planned for as part of the overall project and to ensure the applicant is aware of the potential costs and lead times associated with any requirement of relocation, new installation, or upgrade of services to the site.

A Utility Tap Plan is required prior to submitting a residential plan review for the following project types:

• Construction of a duplex, garage apartment or secondary structure unless identified as a volume builder project.
• Remodeling or upgrade to an existing structure that increases the number of total bathrooms, in excess of 4.5, on site.
• Remodeling to an existing structure to increase the number of units on the site (i.e. converting a home to a duplex).
• Remodeling to an existing structure/site causing change to driveway location, garage entry/approach that would impact water/wastewater service placement.

A Utility Tap Plan is NOT required prior to submitting for a residential plan review for the following project types:

• Remodel of an existing structure that is kept under a 4.5 or less bathroom count
• Construction of a swimming pool
• Additions to an existing residence, such as decks
• Projects that are part of a large commercial site project where utility plans are being reviewed by AWU engineers.

WWWSPV_Page_1Creating the Utility Tap Plan.

If a Utility Tap Plan is required, we will complete the WWWSPV verification form and provide a copy of the proposed site layout plan for the site to obtain the existing service locations, meter sizes, static pressure, etc. The proposed site layout plan should be to a standard scale and show all existing features, included existing water meter and wastewater cleanout locations, as well as any proposed improvements such as proposed driveways and buildings in order to complete verification.

We then take the information obtained from the AWU and the WWWSPV verification form and begin the process of creating the Utility Tap Plan set that shall contain at a minimum the elements included on the Utility Tap Plan checklist below:

The Perales Engineering, LLC utility design team have this entire process streamlined and automated to quickly & accurately produce a full set of Utility Tap Plans that are ready for submission for AWU review within a few days of receiving the proposed site layout plan & floor plans.


W&WW Tap Plans
Austin Water Utility (AWU)
Pipeline Engineering
February 19, 2015

Tap plans shall be signed and sealed by a professional engineer, include the engineering firm number, and shall at a minimum contain the following elements on 24” X 36” plan sheets:

1. Project name, address, and owner/applicant.
2. Record Plat, legal lot description, or a Land Status Determination letter.
3. General Location map with Mapsco Page and Grid Number
4. City of Austin water system pressure zone and approximate static pressure.
5. Fire protection demand as prescribed by the 2012 International Fire Code as amended and verified by the Austin Fire Department.
6. Watershed drainage basin.
7. TxDOT Utility In Right-of-Way Permit (if required)
8. Signature block for Industrial Waste
9. Signature block for Fire Department
10. Signature block for Austin Water Utility.

11. Planimetric view (to scale {per AWU UCM 2.5.1.F.3} with north arrow) of the area of the tap and meter/City clean out to include all existing and proposed utilities (underground and surface structures) and appurtenances, water or wastewater line size and material, all structures including but not limited to paving, sidewalks, retaining walls, fences/walls, driveways, landscape areas, trees (size and type), etc.
12. Appropriate spot elevations and contours to adequately describe the area topography.
13. Street names and alleys.
14. Right-of-way (ROW) lines and widths, private and public easements, property lines with appropriately referenced recorded document numbers.
15. City of Austin Grid numbers, water intersection numbers, wastewater profile number, and AWU project numbers.
16. Domestic water demand in gallons per minute (gpm) based on plumbing fixture counts for commercial. If project is residential, indicate the number of bathrooms.
17. Results from fire flow testing if tap is for fire line or sprinkler systems.
18. Standard AWU construction notes and the following “lead free” note:
All potable water system components installed after January 4, 2014, shall be essentially “lead free” according to the US Safe Drinking Water Act. Examples are valves (corporation stops, curb stop, and pressure reducing valves), nipple bushings, pipe, fittings and backflow preventers. Fire hydrants, tapping saddles September 24, 2014 Page 2 and 2-inches and larger gate valves are the only components exempt from this requirement. Components that are not clearly identified by the manufacturer as meeting this requirement either by markings on the component or on the packaging shall not be installed.
19. Proposed utility line size, material, fittings, and appurtenances.
20. Connection method to main.
21. Dimensions from water or wastewater service lines to the nearest lot corner along the ROW.
22. Appropriate standard details from AWU 500 series.
23. Indicate the elevation of the proposed cleanout at the property line and the finished floor elevations for wastewater taps.
24. Indicate installation of roots barrier for mains and service lines that are within 5 to 10 feet of trees. No utility line should be within 5 feet of a tree.
25. For projects with an onsite alternate water source or sources the following criteria must be indicated and included as a note on the plans: High hazard containment backflow prevention (i.e. RPZ or RPDA) is required to be installed 3 inches to 6 inches immediately outside the meter box or immediately downstream of the service connection and on private property. If this cannot be accomplished, the entire service line, from the meter to the RPZ, shall have a concrete cap a minimum of 12” wide and 4” thick centered above the service line.
26. Water meters located on private property must be in an appropriately sized AWU approved and recorded easement.

Additional drawings which may be required can include an Erosion Control Plan and traffic control plan with appropriate details.

Please contact Jose Jimenez in our Utility Tap Plan Department @ 512-220-7070 josejimenez@peraleseng.com for more information.

Rain gardens help protect nearby streams, conserve water, & reduce mosquitoes


Posted: 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas, the opportunity to be absorbed.

This reduces rain runoff and pollution by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground reducing rain runoff while improving water quality of nearby creeks and rivers.

Rain gardens can cut down on the amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams by up to 30%

On the surface, a rain garden contains the same wild flowers and other native plants you’d expect to see in any garden or landscaping.  But the difference runs deep.  During a storm or shower, the rain garden soaks up a few inches of water runoff from a roof, driveway, or other paved surface.  That water slowly seeps into the ground instead of heading for the nearest storm drain.

Rain gardens are a great way to make an area aesthetically pleasing while being environmentally friendly.

Why does that matter?


It’s all about runoff.  As our region’s forests, farmland and other green spaces are paved over for highways, housing developments and shopping centers, the amount of impervious surface continues to grow.  This decreases the ground’s natural ability to absorb rainwater.

In many local communities, runoff follows storm drains and surface paths, picking up pollutants that contaminate our nearby creeks & rivers.

Stormwater isn’t free from pollutants.   Though it comes from rain, once on the ground, it gathers pollutants in its path on its way to waterways.   These non-point source pollutants can include fertilizers, oils and E. coli and are difficult to trace.

Rain gardens help rainwater mimic the natural spreading of stormwater.

The city of Austin, Texas, has established rain gardens as an “Innovative Water Quality Control”, per its Environmental Criteria Manual.

524036_456097037766652_2051996746_nA rain garden requires an area where water can collect and infiltrate, and plants to maintain infiltration rates, diverse microbe communities, and water holding capacity. Transpiration by growing plants accelerates soil drying between storms. This includes any plant extending roots to the garden area.

Simply adjusting the landscape so that downspouts and paved surfaces drain into existing gardens may be all that is needed because the soil has been well loosened and plants are well established. However, many plants do not tolerate saturated roots for long and often more water runs off one’s roof than people realize. Often the required location and storage capacity of the garden area must be determined first.

Rain garden plants are then selected to match the situation, not the other way around.

Plant Selection

Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they generally do not require fertilizer and are more tolerant of one’s local climate, soil, and water conditions, and attract local wildlife such as native birds.


The plants — a selection of wetland edge vegetation, such as wildflowers, hedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs and small trees — take up excess water flowing into the rain garden. Water filters through soil layers before entering the groundwater system. Root systems enhance infiltration, maintain or even augment soil permeability, provide moisture redistribution, and sustain diverse microbial populations involved in biofiltration.  Also, through the process of transpiration, rain garden plants return water vapor to the atmosphere.

Rain water helps plants grow and reduces the need for watering.

Rain gardens are beneficial for many reasons: improve water quality by filtering runoff, provide localized flood control, are aesthetically pleasing, and provide interesting planting opportunities.   They also encourage wildlife and biodiversity, tie together buildings and their surrounding environments in attractive and environmentally advantageous ways, and provide significant partial solutions to important environmental problems that affect us all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA rain garden provides a way to use and optimize any rain that falls, reducing or avoiding the need for irrigation.   They allow a household or building to deal with excessive rainwater runoff without burdening the public storm water systems.

Rain gardens are easier to maintain and help keep runoff out of stormwater systems.

Rain gardens differ from retention basins, in that the water will infiltrate the ground within a day or two. This creates the advantage that the rain garden does not allow mosquitoes to breed.

Rain gardens come in all shapes and sizes and every little bit helps.

Fact Sheet: Six Easy Steps to Build a Rain Garden


New tests: Drainage failing, stormwater entering Barton Springs Pool

Posted: 5:56 p.m. Sunday, May 18, 2014

By Marty Toohey – American-Statesman Staff

Some time in the 1960s, Austin city officials, presumably worried about keeping Barton Springs clean, built a drainage ditch to keep dirty rainwater from the growing Zilker neighborhood from flowing downhill into the iconic swimming hole. The simple system, along Robert E. Lee Road, helped shape city assumptions about what can be built around the springs without mucking up Austin’s most cherished attraction.

But at some point, the drainage ditch popped a leak, or somehow stopped working as intended. Recent city testing confirmed that at least some of the fertilizers, leaked motor oil, metals and other pollution from the 100-plus acres of homes and roads in the Zilker neighborhood is not being channeled past Barton Springs Pool, but is winding up in a tributary and, almost certainly, in the pool itself.

New tests: Drainage failing, stormwater entering Barton Springs Pool photo
The city is not sure how much pollution that is. And it does not plan follow-up testing to determine whether the amounts are significant. The news that no further steps are being taken has angered neighbors and a developer whose project has been derailed by the discovery.

“Now that they recognize it is ending up in Barton Springs Pool … they should address the situation of directing so much polluted” runoff into tributaries that feed the pool, said Jeannie DeFrese, who lives in the Zilker neighborhood.

The situation illustrates the tensions of protecting environmental treasures such as Barton Springs while a burgeoning metropolis grows around them. In many cases, this does not mean massive conflicts that galvanize the city; it means smaller ones that city officials must navigate to avoid collectively creating “death by a thousand cuts.”

In this case, the situation is convoluted enough that the developer whose plans were affected has offered to pay for repairs — and city officials have said no. They reason that making the drainage ditch work as originally intended could actually harm Barton Springs; sealing off the ditch might hold back water that could be helping the pool.

“When you starting doing engineering fixes, you get unintended consequences — sometimes significant ones you don’t fully understand until years down the road,” said Chuck Lesniak, the city’s chief environmental officer. “The problem is, if we say yes here, how do we say no to the next person?”

In the hills

The issue, which will come before the city’s Planning Commission later this month, evolved from a seemingly straightforward dispute between a developer and neighbors who objected to his proposal.

Steven Radke cobbled together 3 acres in the hills above Barton Springs and proposed building nine duplexes in a development called Blue Bonnet Hills, an arrangement he said would allow him to cluster homes and preserve trees. Recent precedent was on his side; the city approved the nearby Melridge Place and Zilker Terrace complexes in 2008 and 2010, respectively, based on a zoning designation intended to encourage a more densely populated area.

That zoning is intended, broadly speaking, to divert development from areas southwest of Austin and beyond the city’s regulatory reach. Water flowing through some of those areas feeds Barton Springs; the more development there, the more likely the springs will suffer, according to city policy.

The Zilker neighborhood might be closer, but the city concluded it could handle additional development because the Robert E. Lee drainage ditch would divert the neighborhood runoff downstream from Barton Springs, where it would have minimal impact before flowing into Lady Bird Lake.

But last year neighbors found evidence suggesting water running across the Blue Bonnet Hills property did feed Barton Springs. That meant the zoning intended to encourage denser development would not apply; instead, the property would be subject to the Save Our Springs Ordinance, which limits development in places where pollution coming from it could wind up in the springs.

At first, city staffers determined that the neighbors and the environmental groups helping them were right: Blue Bonnet should have to follow the stricter rules, which would shrink the project to three homes. Then the staff reversed course. Then the staff reversed course again and decided the SOS Ordinance should apply.

That’s where the issue now stands. As to the other recently approved projects, Lesniak said they were permitted in error, for unclear reasons. (He was not the chief environmental officer at the time.)

The city did make the right decision on Blue Bonnet, said Brad Rockwell, an attorney who specializes in environmental law and has advised neighbors. Incorrectly permitting two earlier projects is not a reason to continue doing so, he said.

“What sense would it make for us,” Rockwell said, “to be spending millions of dollars buying land miles from Barton Springs to protect it from the effects of development and not follow our own rules for properties that are right nearby?”

In the ditch

But as Blue Bonnet Hills was debated, another issue emerged.

The city’s environmental staff dropped dye into a tributary of Little Zilker Creek, which flowed by Radke’s property, to test the assumption that the water wound up in Barton Springs. Heavy rains washed some of the dye out the day it was released, Lesniak said, but some of it was discovered later in a waterway next to Barton Springs Pool and, because of the area’s hydrology, proved some of the runoff was flowing into the pool.

That meant the Robert E. Lee drainage ditch was not working. And it was supposed to be catching runoff from more than 100 acres around Radke’s property.

Upset about what he felt was unfairly singling out his project, Radke presented testing from his engineer, done early in the review process, that showed water from the neighborhood was already carrying concentrations of E. coli, chlorine, chromium, sulfates and lead higher than the state recommends for areas where people fish and swim. The drainage ditch is the problem, not the proposed development, said Jeff Howard, the attorney representing the project.

“It would be a strange statement to say, ‘100 acres of untreated runoff with demonstrated pollutants is immaterial.’ That undermines the idea of the SOS Ordinance,” Howard said. “Anyone could claim their 100-acre project had an immaterial effect on the springs. Should the city give them a pass? Yet somehow they’re concerned about my client’s treated 3 acres?” He said that by the developer paying for a fix, the springs would be preserved while fulfilling the other city priority of urban infill.

Neighbors say the strict development rules are a buffer against situations like a drainage ditch failing. But several neighbors said the city should also deal with the runoff that is apparently flowing into the pool. The city should limit development to treat the area’s streams like “spring-fed tributar(ies) to Barton Springs Pool, not the drainage ditch the city had deemed” them, said DeFrese, the Zilker resident.

Still, hydrology is tricky, Lesniak said. And the city does not have the money to run dye tests or other, more specific testing for every property across which water headed to Barton Springs flows, he said. The point of the ordinance is to avoid having to do such testing in every situation.

“This (runoff) probably provides a very small contribution to the springs,” Lesniak said, declining to speculate beyond that description. “But at the same time, I believe in death by a thousand cuts. And we don’t want to set a precedent of letting people seal off” flows going into the springs, as fixing the Robert E. Lee drainage ditch would do.

Other fixes are possible, though generally more ambitious. They include converting the parking lot on the south side of Barton Springs Pool into a drainage pond, which would purify the water — but that would mean even less parking for a place with a shortage while costing potentially millions of dollars to design, secure the various environmental permits for and build. (Among the things the city would have to prove: that the work would not affect the endangered salamanders that call the springs home.)

“We just don’t think there’s much of a political appetite” for such a large-scale project, Lesniak said.