The Summit at Lake Travis

The Moore Group planned, designed and permitted “The Summit at Lake Travis”, a single family development near Austin with spectacular views of Lake Travis. Design work included a new water plant approved by TCEQ as part of the Inverness Point Water System. These photos show construction underway at the project.

A road in “The Summit at Lake Travis” with a view of Lake Travis in the background.

The water storage tank that will provide water to the residents of The Summit at Lake Travis.

12115458_1064998100213147_5251368993968277489_n

The water plant under construction.

12227595_1064998093546481_8540182616900057467_n

MUD not mud and Other Engineering Acronyms

When I started working for The Moore Group, a civil engineering firm in Austin,
I knew very little about engineering. I quickly learned a lot, but as I read
through our everyday documents I realized there were a lot of acronyms I didn’t
understand.

One commonly used one is MUD or Municipal Utility District. Not only did I not
know that it wasn’t talking about wet dirt, but I had no idea what it involved. I
had a few different theories and most of them ended with the visual of a building
sinking in gloppy brown muck because the engineer hadn’t planned for mud.
However, MUD has nothing to do with mud. A Municipal Utility District or MUD,
is a political subdivision with special powers (like The Wonder Twins) to provide
water, waste-water and drainage services within its jurisdiction. In other words,
when an area outside of a city doesn’t have a way to provide the normal water
and drainage services, the developer can use the special powers of MUD to
build these. Then, when enough people actually start living in the area the MUD
can start to collect taxes and pay the developer back for their investment. The
Powers of MUD unite!

When I was researching MUDs, I ran across a few other acronyms like ETJ
which I equated to Extra Terrestrial Junk and WCID (no clue on that one).
An ETJ is actually an Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (I was close). This just has to do
with a government legally taking control of areas that are normally outside of their
boundaries. Any authority can claim an ETJ, but the larger authority (like that of
a city) has to get the consent of the authority of the smaller area (like a smaller
outside town) .

WCID is very closely related to MUD. It stands for Water Control and
Improvement District. WCID was originally designed in 1925 for irrigation
purposes but later took on the extensive powers (more like Superman) for
domestic and commercial water supply, sewage disposal, drainage, reclamation
and conservation. This happened around 1950 due to metropolitan areas
growing too big and too quick. The city services couldn’t keep up with the water
demands. The developer couldn’t pay for it and if attached to the price of a
home, the chances of someone buying it would decrease substantially. So the
developer used a WCID and thus could again be reimbursed for the investment
by the WCID, which gets the funds by taxing the District’s residents.

I understand that typing out “Water Control and Improvement District” 100 times
could get annoying. However, I also understand that most people are going to
do the same thing I did and relate the acronym to something totally unrelated. So
here’s hoping the next time you see ETJ, you think Extraterritorial Jurisdiction,
not Extra Terrestrial Junk.

The Benefits of Water Districts (including M.U.D.’s & W.C.I.D.’s)

The State of Texas allows Land Developers to form Water Districts in order to help finance medium to large sized projects. The Water District repays the Developer for the cost of utilities, drainage systems, ponds and other improvements. The Water District is a taxing authority that re-pays the Developer through the issuance of bonds, similar to municipal bonds. 

There is more than one type of Water District. Types that are commonly used in Land Development include the Municipal Utility District (M.U.D.) and the Water Control & Improvement District (W.C.I.D.). Both types allow the Developer to be reimbursed for many construction costs and soft costs. 

When the District is formed, there is a resident on the property to be developed who will vote in a special election for the Creation of the District and for the eventual Reimbursement of the Developer. The voting resident is not just anybody, but is a person who is living on the land for the purpose taking part in the election and voting to create the District. Since the voting resident is hand selected, the outcome of the election is pre-determined and the Developer is guaranteed to be reimbursed once there are enough taxpayers in the District to support the Bonds. 

A good rule of thumb for the size of development that makes creation of a Water District viable is that it should have the equivalent of at least 200 average price homes that are paying taxes to the Water District. We have helped our Clients with the Creation of Districts of over 2,000 homes, mixed with commercial property. But a high end development may provide enough of a tax base to support a District with fewer than 200 tax payers. We have assisted Clients with small Districts as well.  We have a team of experts that have created Districts in the past.  Call us at 512-442-0377 for more information on Water Districts as they apply to Land Development.