Do We Need WTP4?
By Wells Dunbar,
12:39PM, Wed. Dec. 13, 2006
The Water Treatment Plant No. 4 controversy centers around selection of the plant's site in one of two troubled locations: the currently slated Bull Creek site, or the city's preferred location in the so-called Cortana tract, both within the ecologically sensitive Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. But as SOS's Colin Clark writes in to say, there's a more fundamental problem: the need of the plant itself.
In judging the millions of gallons per day Austin requires (MGD), the city goes by peak-day numbers, a projection of worst-case usage. Clark brings our attention to a slide from Lee Leffingwell's water conservation task force, which was assembled to reduce water usage 1% a year for 10 years. The slide projects peak-day numbers into the future, along with numbers based on the 1% savings. Clark writes:
"What is completely remarkable from the slide is that with the 1% reduction in peak day demand continued into the future, Austin won't hit 260 MGD in peak day demand until around 2018 or 2019. Guess what our current water treatment capacity is (excluding the [to be demolished] Green plant)? 285 MGD. So twelve years from today, we are projected, by the City itself, to have a peak day demand of 25 MGD less than current capacity, after we demolish a plant that gives us 42 MGD. The year when we would get close to the 285 MGD mark is literally off of the chart, as the chart only goes to year 2019.
So why the big rush on the new treatment plant when it's not needed for perhaps 15 years?"