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100-year Water Forward plan to go to Council

Friday, October 12, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

After years of discussions, the Water Forward Task Force has completed its final draft of Austin’s Integrated Water Plan. Now on its fifth draft, the plan has received the blessing of multiple bodies, the latest of which was the Water and Wastewater Commission, which recommended it unanimously at their October 10 meeting. The plan will be presented to City Council in the upcoming weeks in hopes of receiving approval. “We do plan to begin immediately upon adoption,” Teresa Lutes, a managing engineer with Austin Water, told the commission. She explained that although Austin Water is ready to take action on all the recommendations in the plan, “we plan to do that in a thoughtful, deliberate way.” Commission Chair William Moriarty, who also sits on the task force that created this plan, noted that even if the plan passes Council, it will not permanently remain in its current state. He explained that the task force will transform from a planning body into an implementation task force that will meet quarterly. Likewise, the Water Forward plan will be updated every five years to allow it to be evolutionary rather than stagnant. Commissioner Nhat Ho said that now that the high-level plan has been ironed out, it’s time to look at the recommendations from a more granular level. “There is definitely concern in the community saying, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’” he said. According to Lutes, as each recommendation prepares for implementation, equity will be taken into account and there will be plenty of opportunities for public input. Knowing that Austin Water plans to vet each portion of the plan with the community going forward as they work to provide a secure future for the city’s water, Commissioner Mickey Fishbeck Maia said, “It just gives me a sense of security to just know it’s being taken care of.”

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