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Watershed Protection Department set to update master plan

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

The first time the Watershed Protection Department put its mission to “Protect the lives, property, and environment of our community by reducing the impact of flooding, erosion, and water pollution” into an actionable, long-range plan was in 2001. The Environmental Commission approved a major update in 2015. Now, with the 20th anniversary of putting pen to paper coming up, it’s time to modernize the plan. Matt Hollon with the Watershed Protection Department told the Environmental Commission at its May 15 meeting that the department is headed into the second phase of its three-phase plan update. Hollon said the “original goals and objectives are still in the plan today,” and that right now the department is “drafting and publishing minor content updates.” Phase two, which begins in September, is a public engagement phase where the department will ask for input on the overall community vision for the Watershed Protection Department and discuss incorporating climate change considerations into the plan. Then the plan is to “put all this stuff together in 2021,” said Hollon. The commissioners approved of the intentions and approach to the master plan update but asked that the plan be considered in a wider context of city climate goals and environmental concerns. Commissioner Katie Coyne encouraged the department to “think more holistically what a watershed master plan should be” and put it in the context of the Green Infrastructure Priority Program and the Austin Community Climate Plan. Chair Linda Guerrero suggested taking some of the commission’s suggestions from the two-year CodeNEXT planning process to see “how they might jive with this updated version (of the plan).”

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