Austin Council Approves Green Infrastructure Resolution





FOR MORE INFORMATION: Brian Zabcik, Environment Texas, 512-479-9861

Angela Richter, Save Barton Creek Association, 512-480-0055



Environmental Advocates Applaud Decision to Create Integrated Green Plan


AUSTIN — The Austin City Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution that calls for the development of an integrated green infrastructure plan. The resolution specifically endorses the use of Green Stormwater Infrastructure features such as rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavements, and rain harvesting systems in order to address the problems created by urban runoff.


Council Member Ann Kitchen (District 5) sponsored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Leslie Pool (District 7), and Council Member Alison Alter (District 10). Many community organizations and leaders supported the resolution, including Environment Texas, Save Barton Creek Association, and Clean Water Action.


“We congratulate the Council on taking this step,” said Brian Zabcik, the Clean Water Advocate at Environment Texas. “As Austin grows, we cover more land with buildings and roads. That creates more runoff, which creates more water pollution, more flooding, and more erosion. Because Green Stormwater Infrastructure cuts runoff, it can help us solve these problems.”


Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) refers to building and landscape features that catch rain where it falls, letting the water soak into the ground, evaporate into the air, or be stored for later re-use. The Council’s resolution directs the City Manager to identify gaps in the City’s existing GSI policies, and to recommend solutions to address these gaps. The measure also instructs the City Manager to evaluate several GSI provisions in the CodeNEXT revision of the Land Development Code.


“By including Green Stormwater Infrastructure in the Code, we will ensure the Code’s effectiveness in making Austin the green and livable City we want,” said Angela Richter, Executive Director of Save Barton Creek Association. “GSI must be incorporated into the Code in multiple ways, including into denser residential zoning categories, into the Street Design Guide so that our public rights of ways can manage stormwater, and into landscaping guidelines for residential and commercial properties, as well as parking lots.”


GSI features can be found across Austin, including the rain gardens in the parking lot at HEB’s Mueller store, the rain harvesting cistern at Austin Public Library’s Twin Oaks branch, and the green roof at UT’s Dell Medical School.


“I’m very excited to see our Mayor and Council support Green Stormwater Infrastructure,” said landscape architect Eleanor McKinney, who designed the green roof at Austin City Hall and who is also a member of the City’s Code Advisory Group. McKinney added, “Landscape architects understand the innate connection that people feel with nature, and we understand that integrating nature into our built environment can create vibrant places. I regularly seek ways to accomplish this through my professional training and practice.”


Richter agreed, saying, “In addition to helping with water quality, flood severity, and water conservation, green infrastructure has been shown to benefit residents’ physical and mental health. For example, green elements in street design could be used both for stormwater management and for improving the quality of pedestrian and bicycle transit by creating barriers, lowering air temperature, and reducing noise pollution.”


Stormwater runoff has become a top cause of water pollution. Nationally, 40% of assessed streams fail to meet water quality standards, and urban streams have tended to fare worse than the national averages. Local testing has shown that Lady Bird Lake and ten Austin creeks have low water quality due to runoff pollution.


“Green Stormwater Infrastructure is being used because it works,” said David Foster, Texas Director for Clean Water Action. “Studies have shown that GSI features can sharply reduce runoff and filter out pollutants.” Foster added, “By allowing rainwater to be slowly absorbed into the soil instead of quickly running off, these features can also provide for higher moisture levels in the soil, which in turn supports our urban trees, creeks, and springs.”


“Building green is about building for the long haul,” Zabcik said. “It’s about recognizing that even in the city, our land and our water are precious resources that we have to protect. Green stormwater infrastructure is one way that Austin can achieve this goal.”


For additional information, please see:

Save Barton Creek Association, CodeNEXT Community Viewpoints Paper:


Environment Texas, “Catching The Rain” GSI report:


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Save Barton Creek Association strives to be an objective opinion on Austin’s development in regards to water quality and green space integrity. Our organization analyzes Austin’s CodeNEXT zoning code to determine the cities ability to protect our creeks, rivers and watersheds.

Read More:

CodeNEXT Community Viewpoints Paper

Sewage Update: Dripping Springs and the Legislature

There have been several new developments this Spring in regards to Dripping Springs’ proposal to dump nearly a million gallons a day of treated sewage into Onion Creek.
While SBCA and our partner organizations were optimistic the legislature may pass a bill banning direct discharge of wastewater in the contributing zone to the Edwards Aquifer, these bills did not become law this session.
Dripping Springs City Council elections on May 6 saw the election of two new members. We are hopeful that these new voices will change the dialogue toward a no-discharge solution.
TCEQ has still not issued a response to the EPA, as they must do following the EPA interjection in December, Therefore, the permit is still on hold. In the meantime, the parties that are officially protesting the permit continue to work on a draft settlement. Protect Our Water commisioned engineer Lauren Ross to produce a water water balance analysis. It showed Dripping Springs could accomplish 100% beneficial reuse of wastewater effluent (no discharge) by providing 700 acres for irrigation and 39 million gallons of storage.
SBCA continues to support efforts to come to a no-discharge solution.
To keep apprised on our campaign against direct discharge in the contributing zone, sign up for alerts here.

SBCA Maintains Opposition to SH45 SW

SBCA board members Steve Beers and Clark Hancock recently wrote an article for the Austin American Statesman on the SH45 SW project and the threat it poses to the aquifer. We encourage you to read the article to understand why SBCA has continues to hold a position against this project.

“This time, endangered-species habitat is in the direct path of construction; the route passes through a federally permitted wildlife preserve — and there are connecting federal-aid road projects over the aquifer”

“If we do not protect our fragile natural resources by thoughtful, long-term planning, we are in real danger of losing all that we hold of such great value.”

Read the full article below. 

Highway on the Aquifer (SH 45 SW)

CreekFest this Saturday- Buy Tickets!

Save Barton Creek is proud to announce the first annual CreekFest!

Saturday, May 6th

Hills Cafe. (4700 S Congress Ave) 1-4 PM

Buy Tickets Here

Performances by:

Steel Betty

Austin Lounge Lizards

Bill Oliver and the Otter Space Band

Your ticket will include:


-1 drink ticket

-Chips and salsa bar

There’s More!

We will also be featuring an Artist Market, a coalition of talents from the streets of Austin,  and a raffle for a door prize from artist Tim Doyle.

  • Linda Logan – Glass
  • Kaitlin Merchant Davison – Paintings
  • Abel Rodriguez – Clay
  • Karren Sager – Drawing/Paintings

Original artist T-shirts available for purchase (image below)

Additional Food and Drink available for purchase. Menu includes Pork Rib Sampler, Smoked Brisket Sandwich, Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich, Smoked Sausage Sandwich, Fried Okra, Fries.

CreekFest Sponsors

Thank you to those who have already signed up as 2017 CreekFest Sponsors!

Austin Parks Foundation

Hills Cafe

Asakura Robinson

Valley Mills Vineyards

Big Frog Custom T-shirts

Austin Ridge Riders

Montopolis Greenbelt

Dick Kallerman

Roy Waley, Barbara Hilliard Realtors

Becky Jolin and Jon Beall

Craig Smith and Mary Ann Neely

Karen Kocher and Tom Schatz


More information on our website.

Listen to the Bands! Learn about the artists. See the food for-purchase Menu.

Buy your tickets! 

$25 for three bands, a free drink, and a chip bar?! This is a good deal for a good cause. Considering adding on a CreekFest tee-shirt or sleaveless tee.

Let us know you are attending CreekFest on Facebook and be sure to invite your friends. 


Thank you for supporting Save Barton Creek Association

Since 1979, the Save Barton Creek Association has worked to preserve our natural heritage through our public education, advocacy, and conservation programs.

New Letter on Dripping Springs Effluent to Austin City Council

March 6 2017:

SBCA and five other organizations sent a March 6th Letter to Austin City Council Members asking them to withdraw from a bad settlement proposal and continue negotiations with a goal of no discharge. Read the press release and February letter to Austin City Council.

We also recently discovered that US Fish and Wildlife also recommends a no discharge option due to effects on endangered species. Press Release Here.

It’s My Park Day! March 4th


Join Save Barton Creek Association on this family friendly adventure as we make final improvements to Goat Cave Karst Preserve. This is a year-long project funded by an Austin Parks Foundation Grant. We will be installing any remaining interpretive signs and benches, defining the educational area around the new kiosk, and creating a trail extension. March 4th at 10am  Register here!

Tools, water, and snacks will be provided, but try and bring your own gloves if you have them.


All volunteers will receive a SBCA water bottle.

Parking Details: You may park on Coastal Drive; Walk into preserve from Davis Lane until you see us!


Recent Aquifer Study Shows New Data for Recharge Water

The new aquifer study “Stream Recharge Water Balance for the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards Aquifer” was published in December 2016. The study recalculates the amount of contributions of recharge into the aquifer. The new study found the contributions of local rivers and creeks are:

  • Onion Creek: 32.6%
  • Barton Creek: < 10.5%
  • Slaughter Creek: 7.2%
  • Bear Creek: 6.2%
  • Blanco River: 6%
  • Little Bear Creek: 3.9%
  • Williamson Creek: 1%

These percentages only account for 56-67% of total groundwater recharge, 17% of which is stream autogenic recharge. Autogenic recharge means a concentrated flow into large fractures, caves and sinkholes. Upland autogenic recharge accounts for 33-44%.

According to prior tests, upland autogenic recharge only accounted for 15% of recharge. This means that water flowing directly from karst land in the recharge zones is playing a far bigger role in the recharge of Edwards Aquifer than expected.

The karst landscape is largely composed of hole-ridden limestone rock that allow water to easily percolate through the terrain and into the aquifer. Precipitation that falls on the recharge zone flows directly into the aquifer. This study illustrates the importance of proper environmental practices even when the area isn’t directly next to a water body.

SBCA Part of Coalition on CodeNEXT Benchmarks

SBCA helped draft and support “Community Priorities for CodeNEXT” a document written and supported by a diverse stakeholder group including several environmental organizations. SBCA looks forward to reading the draft of CodeNEXT, the City of Austin’s land development code rewrite,  and measuring it by the benchmarks in the document. SBCA is particularly interested that CodeNEXT ” shall reduce climate change, increase resilience, reduce the urban heat island effect, and preserve and restore our natural environment,” and “shall require that new and redevelopment mitigate and reduce flooding, runoff pollution, and downstream erosion.” Save Barton Creek Association will continue to provide feedback to the CodeNEXT process to ensure a healthy environment for all Austinites.

Read the Full Document Here