Conservation Instead of a New Water Treatment Plant

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    In your water article last week [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20], Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros stressed, "only to build Phase I.” Meszaros obviously does not have to pay the additional $400 million.
    Meszaros also said the new plant would allow the city to "take down" part of an old plant for repairs. If repairs were needed, why weren't they done before Green was decommissioned? Seems $400 million is a lot for us to pay for that oversight.
    "Davis and Ullrich draw water from the Colorado River. WTP 4 will draw from Lake Travis." Lake Travis is a part of the Colorado River just like Lake Austin. This is not a second source of water! The difference is Lake Austin has the additional benefit of inflows from Barton Creek and Bull Creek. Those will be lost with an intake in Lake Travis.
    What rate increase on water from the Lower Colorado River Authority? In the LCRA/City of Austin Settlement Agreement (June 2007), Austin does not have to pay another penny to LCRA for water until it reaches a trigger point of 201,000 acre-feet per year two years in a row. That might have happened by 2020 to 2025 if the current rate of conservation was not so good. Meszaros certainly skimmed over that fact! Another point for conservation.
    Producing less water reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. Again, conservation over a new plant wins again.
    The "other" Colorado River cities that Austin mayoral candidate Lee Leffingwell refers to beat us hands down on conservation. Los Angeles uses 125 gallons per capita per day compared to Austin's 172 GPCD. Austin has a long way to go in "selling conservation.”
    Lake Travis is the lifeblood of Central Texas. It is time the city realizes that fact.
    Save water. Save Lake Travis.
Connie Ripley
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