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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Council to consider changes to water service extension rules
Wednesday, July 19, 2023 by Jo Clifton
City Council on Thursday will consider changing regulations to take decisions about water and wastewater service extension requests for the Barton Springs and Lake Austin watersheds out of its hands and give responsibility to city staff. If Council approves the resolution, staff will be directed to come back at the end of September with a code change. The possibility has upset some Edwards Aquifer conservation advocates, who say they will lose their chance to argue against such extensions or perhaps know such decisions are being made. The Save Our Springs Alliance and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance have urged supporters to oppose the proposed changes. In addition to the change in oversight, Council members Leslie Pool, Ryan Alter, Mackenzie Kelly and Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis are proposing to allow cost participation for oversizing wastewater infrastructure in the drinking water protection zone. Their resolution states that the current cost participation prohibition “impairs the city’s ability to properly plan system improvements, including minimizing disturbances from repeated line construction and mitigating the risk of sanitary sewer overflows.” Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, expressed concern about the city granting water and wastewater service to several developments in northern Hays County, including the controversial Hays Commons. The SOS Alliance warned against allowing staff to make decisions currently made by Council. The resolution’s sponsors are expected to argue that the city already has stringent environmental regulations to protect the Drinking Water Protection Zone from overdevelopment.
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