This was written in 1978!!! 23 years ago!!!

Texas WaterNet | Newsletters | Texas Water Resources | June, 1978 |

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The city of Austin is an example of a local government attempting to regulate land use for reservoir protection.

Urban sprawl–a problem common to most modern cities–is an even greater dilemma for Austin because it threatens the city's water supply.

As many as 14,000 new homes will be built during the next 20 years in the Texas hill country west of Austin which is the Lake Austin watershed. This will mean the development of 4,000 acres of land–all of which drain into the city's source of water. Although the rapidly-developing 92-square-mile area is outside Austin's city limits, it is within its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Development on the watershed could mean more sediment from construction sites, more rapid runoff when buildings and pavement replace woods, and more toxic chemicals into the lake from streets, yards, and industries. It could also mean more nutrients into the lake from septic tanks.

Austin citizens and city officials are concerned about the lake's future and are taking steps to discourage harmful development on the watershed. Goals and priorities for Austin's growth were identified in 1975 in a report prepared by 3,500 Austin citizens. The goals directly related to Lake Austin watershed recommended that the city:

These goals were considered in a growth management plan developed for the city by an urban planning firm in 1976. The plan recommends the establishment of three regulatory zones in the Lake Austin watershed: conservation, limited development, and development zones.

Richard Lillie, Director of Planning for the City of Austin, explains that certain parts of the growth management plan may be implemented under existing city ordinances. Other parts of the 44 elements in the plan would require new city ordinances or changes in state law before implementation. He and his staff have made recommendations to the city planning commission listing the elements of the plan according to ease or feasibility of implementation.

The city currently has no authority to establish land use regulations outside the city limits. The only means that the city has to limit or encourage development in its extraterritorial jurisdiction are subdivision regulations, water and sewer services, and septic tank permits.

One important element of the plan was adopted by the Austin city council in January 1978. The city's subdivision ordinance now considers the potential amount of impervious cover–roads, concrete, buildings–in relation to the type of land and slope gradations in the area.

Whatever the steps taken to regulate development in the Lake Austin watershed, they will assure many more years of dependable, high quality municipal water.

**Two figures in the April issue of Texas Water Resources were incorrect. There are 700 dams in Texas with 200-500 acre-feet capacity and 550 dams in the state with over 500 acre-feet capacity.


From Texas Water Resources Volume 4 Number 5: June 1978