The Daily Hustle: 2/1/11

Troubled waters at utility?

Water, water everywhere
Water, water everywhere (Photo courtesy Flickr user Lindsay Sorensen [CC])

Hey brother, can you spare $100 million?

That was the loss of revenue Austin Water predicted before City Council last Thursday, should greater conservation measures be put in place and followed to a T. Unsurprisingly, their words (and the mayor's, as well) have engendered some pushback from the environmental community.

We're getting deeper into AW's presentation in print this Thursday, but suffice to say, the recommendations – to reduce water use to 140 gallons per capita per day, down from a rolling five year figure of 163 – earned both scorn from the environmental community, who described the findings as overly pessimistic, and from the mayor, who found the recommendations overly onerous, which in turn, earned him additional scorn from the environmental community.

Of the new recommendations, Lee Leffingwell said he was opposed to limits on irrigated areas for homes and businesses and and irrigation design plan review, saying “it doesn't make sense to me to be adopting draconian measures that they don't eve have in cities in the desert, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, just to make ourselves feel good about what we're doing.” That set off alarm bells with long time council watcher Paul Robbins, who points to San Antonio city code stating “Irrigation systems newly installed in single family dwellings may not cover more than 10,000 square feet of landscape with spray or rotor irrigation heads.” LCRA code also places restriction on new homes with irrigated plots over 12,000 feet, Robbins notes.

That said, broader questions still persist around utility expense and the $100 million hit. See this Thursday's paper for more. Below, peruse the controversial presentation for yourself.


… Yesterday, the city saw the opening of new public safety training facilities, namely the Roy Butler Building. Take it away, press release:

Improvements at the City of Austin Public Safety Training Campus, 4800 Shaw Lane, in Southeast Austin include:

· The Roy Butler Building, a 50,000 square foot, two-story classroom facility with office space for Emergency Medical Services, Fire and Police. The facility includes a “gym” with the flexibility to add various obstacle courses as well as a weight room and adjustable-size classrooms. This facility uses partial power from a photo voltaic array, features low-flushing toilets and includes energy efficient air conditioning, water heaters and lighting. A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating is expected from the U.S. Green Building Council.

· A 40,300 square foot contained shooting lane range and associated building that replaces one that was open air with dirt floors. The new facility has 41 shooting lanes compared to 26 in the former range.

· A new 3,350 square foot burn building.
· Outdoor training facilities including a new jogging track.
· A driving track.
· An emergency vehicle operating course.
· A Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) obstacle course.

“The citizens of Austin repeatedly have listed public safety as their No. 1 priority,” Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. “This campus brings together some of the finest emergency responders in the nation that work for the City of Austin. This investment allows them to stay on top of the most up-to-date ways to serve the public and save lives.

”In addition, we have an opportunity to honor Austin’s first elected Mayor who has contributed so much to this community,” Mayor Leffingwell said.

The $20 million campus improvements are funded by 2006 bond funds.

Fine, but does it hold Roy Butler's desk?

What the hell else is happening?

On the city calendar: The Zoning and Platting Commission meets in Council Chambers at City Hall, 6pm.

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