Regulating Travis County’s Creeks
On Friday, Austin residents have a chance to get involved with drafting a citywide water protection ordinance that will affect creeks, streams and development in East Travis County.
City staff and stakeholders are fine-tuning details of the new ordinance that would implement development regulations, such as requiring a certain amount of space–called setback–from creek banks to fight erosion and protect the watershed and nearby buildings. Austin’s City Council directed staff to begin the process of developing an ordinance about a year ago.
In this week’s “Changing Austin,” Matt Hollon with the city’s Watershed Protection Department talks with KUT’s Erika Aguilar about what this new ordinance is expected to do.
In the late 70s, we started protecting Lake Austin and the Barton Springs zone. The focus was really on the west, not on the east.
Hollan said the ecology of East Travis County is very different than West Travis County, because it is part of the Blackland Prairie. Watersheds are very erosive on the prairie, so initially watersheds in the east were given less protection.
Matt Hollon, in reference to trying to control natural creeks that run along development:
We understand how streams move and how they work better. So when I talk about these clay-banked creeks, in the past people would basically would slap some concrete on it and straighten it out and do whatever they want with it and that doesn’t work really well.
The city is in the draft ordinance process, and Hollon said it would probably be at least another six months before something is presented to council members for consideration. The public is encouraged to participate in the process by attending any of the stakeholder meetings. The next one is January 6 at City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact the city for additional information.