Too Much Urban Development in Watershed Already

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 10, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Douglas Watkins writes [“Postmarks,” Jan. 6] about the extensive development in the Barton Springs Watershed of the Edwards Aquifer, where rainfall runs off land or pavement, enters the aquifer, flows underground, and emerges at Barton Springs.
    There has been an awful lot of urban development over the Barton Springs Watershed. Watkins is wrong to conclude that Advanced Micro Devices should spur further urbanization by building a major campus in our most fragile watershed and setting off a growth boom Southwest.
    More urban development in the Barton Springs Watershed means more pollution of Barton Springs, drinking-water wells, water supply to the city of Austin, plus more flooding downstream.
    Mr. Watkins points out that Motorola (now Freescale) has an enormous operation in the watershed. The residential developments Watkins points out in the watershed were spurred in large part by Motorola's creation of a major employment center in Southwest Austin and the accompanying infrastructure. The result of that urban development is dirtier water in Barton Springs.
    Where rocks once glistened under clear water, they are now covered in sediment and algae. After heavy rains the water turns murky, pumping out pollutants washed into the aquifer.
    In dry weather, the water clears. Barton Springs is still a marvel of nature but one that's been damaged by man, by our urbanization over a karst limestone aquifer.
    If AMD moves to Stratus/Freeport's Southwest Parkway land, there will be more urbanization of thousands of acres, and more pollution of Barton Springs.
    If AMD backs off, we can protect forever thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the Barton Springs Watershed.
    AMD can choose another site. The aquifer and watershed cannot relocate.
    The horse of urbanization is halfway out of the barn. Will we let it run wild?
Colin Clark
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