TDH: 9/21/11

Council skeptics concur: WTP4 stoppage too expensive

The WTP4 site this Spring
The WTP4 site this Spring (Photo by John Anderson)

This afternoon, City Council’s Audit and Finance Committee received an expanded report from the Office of the City Auditor on the costs of postponing completion of Water Treatment Plant No. 4. And afterward, council members who had questioned finishing the plant on economic grounds begrudgingly concluded “they will not press for a delay” of completion.

Scrubbing estimates from WTP4 contractor CDM on what a five or ten year postponement of the plant would cost, the OCA stated it found $100 million of CDM’s five-year shutdown costs ($138 million) and $155 million of CDM’s ten-year estimate ($206 million) “reasonable.” The numbers led Bill Spelman, who had pushed for the OCA’s evaluation, to concede “We’re talking about numbers which are sufficently large that all the nickel and diming in the world isn’t going to change something fundamental.” While still arguing against the need for the plant, Spelman said, “I think we ought to get through it,” and refocus energy on “more urgent needs,” including conservation and stable water rates and fees.

(When reiterating his belief that, due to declining peak usage days, WTP4 wasn’t needed, Spelman happened onto an intriguing line-of-thought: it might make more financial sense to postpone WTP4 indefinitely, as re-start costs comprised a healthy portion of the expense – an option not fully explored by activists opposing the plant, who maintained the polite fiction the postponement would be a temporary affair. Neither here nor there, but … )

After the committee accepted the auditor’s findings, Spelman, Sheryl Cole, and Chris Riley (who also sat in on the committee’s meeting) issued a press release stating they sought no further postponement of the plant.

So what’s next? With postponement off the table, we’ll likely see continued piecemeal opposition to plant components, such as the Save Our Springs Alliance’s scorched-earth take on the contracting for the plant’s Jollyville transmission main, and continuing environmental concerns surrounding the main, voiced at the meeting today by Laura Morrison. But at this point, it looks like it’s full speed ahead for the long controversial plant.

Below, a copy of the OCA’s presentation.

City Auditor Presentation on WTP4 Postponement Costs

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] austinchronicle.com, 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  

READ MORE
More City Council
City Council Candidate Forums
City Council Candidate Forums
Say hello to your district's candidates

Chase Hoffberger, Aug. 24, 2018

Zimmerman and Flannigan Face-Off in Candidate Forum
Zimmerman and Flannigan Face-Off in Candidate Forum
Zimmerman doubles down on opposing climate change, living wage

Mary Tuma, Sept. 16, 2016

More Water Treament Plant 4
TDH:9/2/11
TDH:9/2/11
Austin Water, rec centers still dominate city budget

Wells Dunbar, Sept. 2, 2011

TDH: 8/26/11
TDH: 8/26/11
Sanders settlement, elections, WTP4 and other items of actual import

Wells Dunbar, Aug. 26, 2011

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

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The Daily Hustle, City Council, Water Treament Plant 4, city auditor, CDM, report

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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