Naked City

The New Water War: Hamilton Pool

By Amy Smith, Fri., April 30, 2004

Opponents on both sides of Hamilton Pool – those who fear sprawl will kill off the landmark water hole and those who say, "Trust us, we're only going to build 1,300 new homes" – will line up at the microphone on May 6, 6-9pm, for another hearing on a proposed westward water pipeline.

The hearing is at the Dripping Springs Primary School, 29400 RR 12 N. (for directions, see map at www.lcra.org), before the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Even the location of the hearing – in Dripping Springs – is a bone of contention among opponents of the water line, who believe it is a deliberate attempt to ensure a large pro-development turnout. Last week's hearing drew close to 300 people.

Local environmentalists and a group called the Hamilton Pool Road Scenic Alliance are putting up strong resistance against an equally strong, well-funded foe: the Hamilton Pool Road Alliance. The latter is comprised of landowners who have asked the LCRA to extend water service for a proposed new, 1,300-home development on about 1,400 acres in the Hamilton Pool Road area, within the Barton Springs Watershed. The landowners have insisted they will maintain water-quality measures defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species.

Opponents of the project have asked the LCRA board to delay action on the proposal until the completion of a regional plan currently under way. If the board approves the proposal at its next scheduled meeting on May 19 (in Burnet Co., no less), chances are good that a lawsuit will follow, led by the Save Our Springs Alliance.

Like all good Austin-style water wars, this one has turned into an effort by landowners to portray the opposition as just a bunch of SOS freaks, despite the fact that many neighboring landowners are just as dead-set against the pipeline as the regional environmentalists.

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