The Daily Hustle: 10/18/10
Neighbors sick of the WTP4 shaft
By Wells Dunbar,
12:13PM, Mon. Oct. 18, 2010
It's been a minute since we checked in on Water Treatment Plant No. 4 and the latest front in that battle: the fight of Spicewood Springs neighbors to keep the water utility from drilling an enormous shaft on parkland to aid in construction of the plant's tunnels.
Austin Water has been trumpeting changes to the site as a compromise with the neighbors – but it may not be enough.
Last week, the utility's WTP4 newsletter went out announcing that in September, “having heard from the community,” they “changed the use of the Spicewood Springs/Old Lampasas shaft site from a working site to a retrieval site. This change reduced the number of construction days by more than 50% to approximately 400 days and decreased truck traffic by 90% in the residential neighborhood by shifting the tunnel excavation and removal of rock and dirt to other shaft sites.” This change traces back to a memo from Marc Ott issued in late September to switch the shaft usage.
So win-win, right? Not exactly. Desmond D'Souza, an engineer and Spicewood resident is pleased about the shaft change, explaining via e-mail it “means the rubble extracted from the tunnel would not come out at the Shaft, but rather at the endpoints. This would move approximately 10,000 dump-truck loads from Spicewood Springs Road to the endpoints of the tunnel.”
But while he says “This is a huge improvement over the original plan,” residents are still irked with any shaft proposal, including the construction, environmental impact, and more. Moreover, the preferred alternative from the neighbors – the “Hybrid-620” route, which would run pipes along the highway (and away from the neighborhood) instead of across the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve – was dismissed by Ott because, in his estimation, “Construction costs for this option are $50 million more than the proposed Spicewood Springs route.”
D'Souza notes a point raised in the 620 proposal documents that neighbors submitted to the utility: “We are certain there will be many objections raised, including some we have missed. It is quite possible that some of those objections will be valid, and in good faith. The key question is: will these be seen as issues to be solved using creative engineering resources, or as excuses to try and kill the Hybrid-620 option as proposed by a group of Concerned Citizens?
Guess which side they come down on.
Looks like the fight's being taken up again October 26, so mark your calendars. Below, the original memo from Ott.
What the hell else is happening?
On the city calendar: The Electric Utility Commission is meeting at Town Lake Center, First floor conference room, 721 Barton Springs, 6pm.
The Urban Renewal Agency meets at the Street-Jones Building, Room 400A, 1000 East 11th, 6pm.
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