Opposition to WTP 4

RECEIVED Mon., March 2, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Your article “Dumping the Water Pump” [News, Feb. 20] reported several arguments from Austin Water Utility about why Austin should build Water Treatment Plant No. 4. I feel that several statements defending this expensive plant were questionable.
    1) Austin needs more redundancy in the system so it can repair plants. There is a 10% safety margin in all forecasts. Also, if redundancy was such a big issue, why did the city retire Green Water Treatment Plant before WTP 4 construction has even started?
    2) WTP 4 cuts greenhouse gas emissions. No proof was cited for this assertion. Also, they should compare emissions savings from water efficiency programs, not just other treatment plants.
    3) WTP 4 creates jobs and could be eligible for federal economic stimulus money. Are these projects necessary and cost effective compared to alternatives? Wouldn’t water efficiency programs also provide jobs? And is WTP 4 eligible for this federal money?
    4) The costs for WTP 4 could go down next year because interest rates and construction costs are down. Yes, but so is the overall economy, and also the rate-payer’s ability to pay for such increases.
    While the story correctly states that eight environmental groups opposed the construction schedule, the only group discussed was the Save Our Springs Alliance.
    Other groups opposed include Austin Regional Group, Sierra Club; Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club; Clean Water Action; Don't Empty Lake Travis Association; Environment Texas; Hill Country Alliance; and National Wildlife Federation. The breadth of opposition to WTP 4’s premature construction would have been clearer if all these organizations had been cited in the text.
Steve Beers
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