Prop 13: Open Space and Watershed Protection
This November, Austin voters will be asked to decide on 18 propositions, including seven bond propositions totaling $385 million. KUT News is examining all seven of the spending propositions; today we take a look at Prop 13, which would spend $30 million purchasing land and conservation easements for open space and water quality protection.
According to the city, the bond would help preserve Austin’s water quality by funding land buys in the Barton Springs Watershed, where water filters into the Edwards Aquifer.
“It’s preserving the lands, keeping it from urbanization, which inevitably leads to some degradation of water quality,” says Michael Personett, assistant director for the city’s Watershed Protection program.
The bond would also add to the city’s undeveloped space by funding the purchase of land conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas. Easements are essentially agreements between the city and landowners that keep land in the hands of its original owner while preventing outside development. The owner gets some extra cash, and the city gets assurances water quality won’t deteriorate in that area.
Supporters say that the bond will go a long way in not only preserving clean drinking water, but also in protecting the wide-open green space that distinguishes Austin from other fast-growing cities.
“Everybody in Austin gets it: that open space is part of the fabric, part of the quality of life here,” says George Cofer, the director of Hill Country Conservancy, a non-profit land trust. “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 separate occasions since 1998. You can learn more about Prop 13 on the city’s website.