The Daily Hustle: 10/18/10

Neighbors sick of the WTP4 shaft

The City's plans
The City's plans (Photo courtesy City of Austin)

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.

Memo from Marc Ott re: Spicewood Shaft

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.

HEY! Sign up for the Hustle's weekly e-mail newsletter, recapping news, politics and more every Friday. Don't worry, we'll never spam or sell your address. Visit here, enter your info, and click 'City Hall Hustle.'

Got something you wanna show the Hustle? Email it to wells [at], tweet it @CityHallHustle, drop by the Hustle's Facebook or Tumblr page, or leave a comment in the section below.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Water Treament Plant 4
TDH: 9/21/11
TDH: 9/21/11
Council skeptics concur: WTP4 stoppage too expensive

Wells Dunbar, Sept. 21, 2011

Austin Water, rec centers still dominate city budget

Wells Dunbar, Sept. 2, 2011

More Marc Ott
Marc Ott Out at City Hall
Marc Ott Out at City Hall
Embattled city manager takes job in Washington, D.C.

Nina Hernandez, Aug. 12, 2016

Ott Strikes Back
Ott Strikes Back
City Manager responds to blogger accusations

Michael King, June 16, 2015

More by Wells Dunbar
Top 10 City Council Stories
Top 10 City Council Stories
Dais and months

Jan. 6, 2012

City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
To the beating hearts of a great city

Dec. 30, 2011


The Daily Hustle, Water Treament Plant 4, Marc Ott, Austin Water, Spicewood Spings, shaft

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle