Water Forward Plan Goes to Council

On Thursday, November 29th, the Water Forward Plan, Austin’s Water Supply Plan for the next 100 years goes to City Council for a vote. See SBCA’s letter to City Council below about the content of the plan.

 

November 27, 2018

Re: Water Forward Plan

To: Mayor Adler and Austin City Council

Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) appreciates the work that went into the Water Forward Plan and is supportive of the direction the plan. We support the plan’s tenets of diversifying water supply without water importation, reducing water demand, and meeting non-potable water needs with new decentralized sources of non-potable water. We hope that the plan is adopted, but also hope that the following amendments can be made to the plan before adoption.

While some of these points may seem minor, they could have a significant impact on the policies that come from the plan’s implementation.

We recommend that:

1) Ordinance strategies including “Alternative Water Ordinance,” “Duel Plumbing Ordinance,” and “Lot Scale Wastewater Reuse” be extended to entire master planned developments including PUDs and other special districts. We should not only be using building size as a threshold for these development requirements, but also communities, because these strategies can often work well within a district and because implementation of these policies in large buildings and districts will capture more development while minimizing the impact on affordability.

2) Bring the landscape transformation ordinance into the 5 year timeline and include commercial landscapes in the ordinance scope. Changing the development regulations around landscapes to reduce water use is a low-hanging fruit that other cities are doing now. Currently, Austin requires commercial landscapes have a permanent irrigation system in most cases. Our code requirements on commercial landscapes should be re-evaluated at the same time residential landscape regulations are considered.

3) As part of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery(ASR) Feasibility Study process, include a comprehensive study of potential ASR locations that looks within and without Austin Water’s service area with the goal of identifying the closest feasible ASR location. SBCA is supportive of ASR as a water supply strategy for Austin and understands that the Carrizo-Wilcox has been identified as a likely location in the Water Forward Plan. We want to ensure due diligence in determining if there is an environmentally superior option to the Carizzo-Wilcox that requires less length of pipe and consequently energy and carbon footprint to transport water over distance.

4) Alternative Water ordinances should be applicable to all buildings and developments of a certain threshold without exception. Please remove references to an “either-or” dynamic between on-site collection of alternative water and use of the City’s purple-pipe. There is an existing exemption to city’s air-conditioning(AC) condensate policy that does not insist buildings adjacent to the Utility’s purple-pipe system collect AC condensate. We’d like to see this exception removed and certainly not replicated for the other alternative water ordinances. There will still be uses for the city’s purple pipe water, especially for industry, parks, and campuses. Additional non-potable capacity (in purple pipe or harvested from a building or development) could be used in neighboring developments, potentially as part of an incentive program.

5) All ordinances that include requirements for new development should undertaken in the next 5 years. They should also be considered together through a coordinated stakeholder process in order to prevent potential confusion, conflicting policies, or unintended consequences.

6) We support the plan’s recommendation to continue the Water Forward Task Force. The role of the Taskforce should include oversight over implementation of the plan including future public processes, the creation of performance measures for the plan and Austin Water (for example, utility-side water loss control), and any subsequent reevaluation of the “living” plan.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Angela Richter

Executive Director

Save Barton Creek Association