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City continues work on WTP 4 despite conservation success

Monday, January 26, 2009 by Austin Monitor

There was no talk about whether the City of Austin would move forward with work on Water Treatment Plant 4 last week as city staff addressed plans for improvements to Bullick Hollow Road necessary for construction of the plant. Staffers with the Austin Water Utility (AWU) and Watershed Protection and Development Review updated members of the Environmental Board on the progress of the project last week.


While some environmentalists, most notably Bill Bunch of the Save Our Springs Alliance, have argued that the plant could be postponed because Austinites responded so favorably to water conservation regulations put in place last year, the Austin Water Utility disagrees.


Last week, Bill Stauber with AWU, described progress on the site and answered environmental questions. “We need those improvements to get the ingress and egress to the site and to the raw water pump station,” said Stauber, noting that the city could go out for bids on those improvements in March, with construction on the road starting in August.


Work on the fence around the site is already underway. The design for a temporary fence around the site went through the environmental commissioning process for the project and received a permit through the Austin Water Utility’s general permit. “We insured that all the critical environmental features were being adequately protected,” said Robin Smith with WPDR. “There were three features inside the fence. We have protected those. We will have weekly site visits from a geologist, they will be walking the fence line looking for any additional CEFs that are discovered after the clearing activity and checking and making sure we are not encountering any voids during the post-hole construction as well.”


Preliminary work on the site itself could begin before the end of the year. “We’re going to bid in July and start construction probably in the November time frame on both the water plant site and the raw water pump station site for the excavation, site preparation essentially,” said Stauber.


Stauber also told the Board that two outside agencies had also given clearance for a key element of the design for WTP 4, the intake valve to draw water from Lake Travis. Both the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the TCEQ have authorized the city to construct the raw water intake on a piece of city-owned property at the lake.

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