Will the Austin Council Decide in Favor of the $508 Million Water Treatment Plant?

By Camelia Bulea, Associate Editor Since the 1970s, Austin Council members have been arguing over the water treatment plant matter, but haven’t yet passed a decision on whether the 40-year-old project should be built or terminated. The time has come for city [...]

Since the 1970s, Austin Council members have been arguing over the water treatment plant matter, but haven’t yet passed a decision on whether the 40-year-old project should be built or terminated.

The time has come for city staff to determine the cost of postponing the project for the next five to ten years. Work on Water Treatment Plant no. 4 is currently underway. And there is also work in progress on a one mile tunnel, which would take the water from the lake into the plant. The city has already spent around $130 million on the treatment plant. The final price for the plant will be $508 million.

The project’s purpose is to offer Austin residents more treated water, as some engineers forecast shortages as early as 2014. They say these shortages could be avoided if the plant was completed by then. On the other hand, critics say the plant is unnecessary and that the community’s water needs can fulfilled with more conservation. According to The Statesman publication, environmental activists argue that the city’s water use reached its peak in 2001 and hasn’t reached that level since, so there won’t be any use to spend $300 million on completing the treatment plant.

Instead, the money could be used to invest in a reclaimed-water system and for the repair of the water pipes system. These actions would conserve enough water for the Austin community.

Currently, there are two water treatment plants that offer clean water to Austin residents, but the Lake Travis project is said to use less energy when pumping water into homes. If the Council decides to move forward with the construction of the plant, this could be fully operating in 2014. Another advantage of the $508 million plant is that it would create approximately 3,500 jobs.