onion creek

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Tonight, the public is invited to give its input at a hearing held by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) over a permit to allow Dripping Springs to dump almost a million gallons of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, about a day upstream of Austin. That idea has many people in Austin very worried. 

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

With the promise of rain, Upper Onion Creek resident Ken Jacob says neighbors of his can be found with their eyes to the creek and the internet – where rain gauge levels are updated. So it’s essential to someone like Jacob, who serves on the city’s Flood Mitigation Task Force, that the city continue to discuss flood mitigation.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

UPDATE: After our story was originally published, we heard from several members of Flood Mitigation Task Force, who disputed the assertions made by some task force members, including the group’s chairman, who said the final report lacked prioritization.

An executive summary of the report, not available at Monday’s meeting of the Council's Public Utilities committee, whittles down the nearly 200 recommendations into 19 high priority ones. Topping that list is the creation of a city-wide policy that prioritizes life, safety and property when it comes to flooding. The task force recommends that the city then consider this when making upcoming budget decisions.

In conversations with other members of the task force, some took issue with chairman Matt Reinstra’s presentation of the report to the Public Utilities Committee. At that time, he did not present the executive summary to council members because it had not yet been finalized by the task force.

“Many of the things he mentioned as recommendations were very minor things that were in there,” said task force member Ken Jacob. “We’re trying to come forward and say this is important. This is something you, the council, needs to pay attention to and the city needs to pay attention to because it’s a big issue.”

Jacob also cautioned against considering too heavily the report’s note that, at the city’s current rate of improvements, it would cost $2 to $4 billion to address local flooding issues.

“The numbers are just estimates [staff] were able to pull out there,” said Jacob. “And they’re going to have to do more work on that to finalize it.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Nearly a year after floodwaters wrecked businesses and homes in Austin over Memorial Day, members of the city’s Public Utilities Committee heard a rundown of a report from the city’s Flood Mitigation Task Force.

It’s a 89-page document bursting with nearly 200 recommendations for city staff – among them, suggestions to replace aging storm drainage systems and enhancing public outreach by the city’s Watershed Protection Department. According to the report, the total cost of these recommendations ranges from $2 billion to $4 billion.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Monday night, Yvette Griego walked into Perez Elementary School in Dove Springs. She followed the hallway to the library, where City of Austin staff was gathered to field questions about home buyouts from victims of the recent Central Texas floods. Many of the affected Dove Springs residents, though, say that they’ve heard these answers from the City before — two years ago, after flooding hit their neighborhood around Halloween in 2013.

Most of the rivers and creeks engorged by Friday's heavy rainfall have reached their highest points and have started to recede. As they do, the residents of hard-hit places, like San Marcos, Bastrop County and Austin's Onion Creek neighborhood, are starting the process of cleaning up and assessing the damage. 

Though the rescue efforts are over, and many donation centers are no longer accepting donated material goods, there are still ways you can help, whether it's by donating money, or making yourself available to volunteer, or bringing in clean clothes for those who lost their belongings. If you're a resident looking for help removing damaged goods or receiving donations, there's information for you as well.