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Council OKs continuing contract, alternate site purchase for WTP 4

Friday, March 28, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The Austin City Council took two important steps toward the construction of Water Treatment Plant 4 at Thursday’s meeting. In addition to approving a $27 million amendment to the contract with Carollo engineers for design work on the plant at its new site at Bullick Hollow, they approved the purchase of land by the Austin Water Utility that could be used as a backup site for the plant.


The Council voted 7-0 on both of those items, unanimously rejecting a call by Bill Bunch of the Save Our Springs Alliance to but the brakes on the project. “It took the environmental community 20 years to convince this Council that the location at Bull Creek was the wrong location,” Bunch said. “We very much appreciate that you came, finally, to that conclusion. But now you need to take the next step and realize that if we’re going to be responsible stewards of our water resources . . . we will be serious about water conservation, and we will save our rate-payers $400 million on a plant that we will need only on a handful of days in August and September when way too many people are wasting way to much water.”


But Mayor Will Wynn said the decision to build the plant had already been made. “We have had a lot of analysis, debate, and dialogue about the need for that facility,” the Mayor said, “and frankly, that debate is over. Even as we work hard on water conservation… as our population continues to grow…we are going to need a fourth plant.”

In a related item, the Council gave approval for the City Manager to purchase 40 acres of mostly undeveloped land along Volente Road (FM 2769) for an estimated price of $4.6 million. “Council directed us to purchase a backup site for WTP 4,” said Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Mullen. “We intend to purchase the property for no more than the appraised value. These agreements are still in the negotiation phase.”


Council Members said that was an appropriate step for the city, given the concerns with the original Bull Creek site for the plant. “It’s prudent for us to purchase an alternative site…we want to make sure we have, from an environmental standpoint, the appropriate site,” said Mayor Will Wynn. “If we are able to construction the plant on our current site, we could ultimately sell this site if we don’t need it.”

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