Hydrants & Testing
Fire Hydrant Testing
September, 2013: Problems with the WD10 Fire Hydrant Test Results
The City has learned that the December, 2011 fire hydrant test results (see below) are inaccurate. In two memos to the WD10 Board of Directors dated April 17, 2013 (PDF) and August 19, 2013 (PDF), Mayor Claunch asks WD10 to explain the discrepancies. He also addresses many other issues related to WD10's failure to move quickly to address this urgent public safety issue. As of September 14, 2013, WD10 has offered no response.
In October of 2011, the City of West Lake Hills requested that Travis County Water Control and Improvement District 10 (WD10) conduct a study to determine the water pressures and fire-flow rates in the WD10 fire hydrants located within the city. The city compensated WD10 for the cost of the testing; WD10 absorbed the cost of the water used during the testing process.
A very small number of hydrants were not tested because the flow tests would have either caused damage to private property or been a potential hazard to vehicular traffic. In such cases, computer modeling of a representative sample was used by WD10 to determine predicted fire-flows. WD10 reports that all of the operational and modeled fire hydrants in the city also exceed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requirements.
The city has generated a map of all fire hydrants serving the city. The map is color-coded to show each fire hydrants actual fire flow.
- Green Areas: Fire hydrants that exceed the 2,000-gallons per minute (GPM) standard
- Red, Blue, and Gray Areas: Fire hydrants that fall below the 2,000-GPM standard
View or download the Color-Coded Fire Hydrant Map (PDF).
View or download the the final report (PDF) showing the actual test results.
If you have questions about the report, please contact WD10 at 512-327-2230. For questions about fire code standards and ways to improve fire safety in your home, contact Mike Lacey at the Westlake Fire Department at 512-539-3400.
Analysis of Results
Based upon the analysis and upon the expert opinion of Emergency Services District 9 (also known as the Westlake Fire Department), the City Council adopted a resolution urging Water District 10 to make the necessary investments in the district's water system in order to provide a minimum fire flow of 2,000 GPM at every fire hydrant in the City of West Lake Hills.
- City Council Resolution Toward District 10 (PDF)
- Emergency Services District 9 Board Resolution (PDF)
Criteria for Hydrant Testing
The TCEQ requires for existing water systems that fire hydrants have flow rates of at least 250 GPM at 20 pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure for a minimum of two hours in order to be called a fire hydrant. WD10 reports that all operational and modeled fire hydrants tested in the city exceed the TCEQ requirements.
International Fire Code
By way of comparison, Emergency Services District 9 (ESD9) and the City of West Lake Hills have adopted the International Fire Code (IFC) standard for new residential construction within the ESD9 service area. The IFC requires a minimum of 1,000 GPM at 20 PSI for one hour for dwellings less than 3,600 square feet, 1,750 GPM at 20 PSI for two hours for dwellings between 3,601 and 4,800 square feet, and 2,000 GPM at 20 PSI for two hours for dwellings between 4,801 and 6,200 square feet.
Predicted Flow Column
The "predicted flow" (20 PSI) column highlighted yellow on the report is the result of a complex calculation of the conditions observed at each hydrant tested and is the basis for determining how the cap of each hydrant should be color-coded to alert the fire department as to that hydrant's expected performance. The resulting color code is shown in the far right column of the report.
Flintridge Road Hydrants
The hydrant at the western end of Flintridge Road is not useable as a fire hydrant; it is a flushing valve only, and is painted black to notify ESD Number 9 that it should not be used during a fire event. There are two fire hydrants (one at the intersection of Flintridge Road and Redbud Trail and one midway along Flintridge Road) that can be used to fight fires anywhere along Flintridge Road. Those two hydrants have fire-flows of between 1,847 GPM and 1,426 GPM respectively.
Ridgewood Village Exclusion
The fire hydrants in the Ridgewood Village Water System (RVWS) were not included in these tests because WD10 has already established that the existing RVWS water system cannot supply sufficient fire-flows. As residents in the RVWS know, WD10 has now received TCEQ and City of Austin approval to annex the RVWS area, and has developed extensive plans to upgrade all lines and pressures and flow-rates - along with replacing all fire hydrants over the next two years.