Austin Prop 13: Clean Water and Open Space
Austin voters will decide seven bond propositions in the November elections. KUT News is taking a look at each of them as Election Day approaches. Proposition 13 would borrow money for open space and watershed protection.
According to the city, the $30 million bond would “preserve water quality” by funding the purchase of land in the Barton Springs watershed where water flows into the Edwards Aquifer. So what does that mean?
“It’s preserving the lands, keeping it from urbanization, which inevitably leads to some degradation of water quality,” said Michael Personett, assistant director for the city’s watershed protection program.
The bond would also “preserve open space” by funding the purchase of land conservation easements in the Barton Springs zone. These are agreements between the city and landowners that prevent development. The owner gets some extra cash, and the city gets to regulate water quality and quantity on the property.
Supporters say the bond will go a long way in not only keeping the water clean but also protecting the green space that distinguishes Austin from other fast-growing cities.
“Everybody in Austin, if you’re been here a while, everybody gets it, that open space is part of the fabric, part of the quality of life here,” said George Cofer, director of Hill Country Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust that works in land and water conservation. “It’s just as important as music and housing and transportation and everything else.”
City officials say that Austin voters have approved similar bonds totaling $128.4 million on three occasions since 1998. If voters approve Proposition 13, it will not increase property taxes.