SWEETWATER - BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID
Can you imagine 3000 Homes in the Bee Creek Valley without adequate water quality protection measures?
Along Hwy 71 at the intersection of Bee Creek Road, the scenery is breathtaking. Bee Creek is one of the area's most spectacular creeks. The ridge lines here are some of the highest in Travis County. The oaks give the Bee Creek Valley a display of color each fall. The night sky is dark. The water is clean.
This unincorporated area of the county has managed to avoid dense urban development because water service hasn't been readily available. However, the LCRA is rapidly approving surface waterlines to complete its master plan which will pave the way for thousands of new homes. In December they approved a highly controversial waterline along Hamilton Pool Road. In January they approved service water to five new developments in Hays County and this month they will be asking their board to approve surface water to Sweetwater, potentially more that 3,000 homes on 1/4 acre lots at Bee Creek Road and Hwy 71.
The LCRA has emphatically positioned itself as an agency that will insist on water quality measures as a condition of supplying utilities to new developments. But Sweetwater, which will densely pack homes of homes along the banks and on the steep slopes above Bee Creek, is destined to pollute the Creek and the waters of Lake Travis beyond. It violates many of the modern design practices for protecting water quality. The developer's strategy is to grandfather the development before new rules are put in place. And the LCRA, despite its earlier propaganda, is apparently not interested in raising the bar for water quality as a condition of supplying utilities to Sweetwater.
Along Hamilton Pool Road, the LCRA insisted that they were responding to a need from existing residents however there are no homeowners requesting water service from the LCRA along Hwy 71 at all. The sole purpose for this waterline is to facilitate new development, is that the role of the LCRA?
I am given to understand that LCRA may consider a water supply contract with Lazy 9 MUD at its February 16th Board meeting. You should know that to date Lazy 9 MUD has not demonstrated that the first phase of development can comply with LCRA's current NPS ordinance. It is readily conceded by LCRA staff that its current NPS ordinance is not equal to the task of protecting water quality in the face of the massive urban density subdivision developments now being proposed. So it is VERY significant that Lazy 9 has not been able to demonstrate that it can meet even those perhaps too lax standards. For reasons that escape me, this phase was granted preliminary plat approval by Travis County without any evidence that the land plan proposed had in place a stormwater quality management plan or a wastewater management plan that even meets current rules, much less actually protects water quality. I am told, though I have not yet seen the plans, that subsequent phases propose even more intense development, and of course no demonstration of compliance has been completed for those phases either.
Given the current situation, it would be the height of irresponsibility for LCRA to aid and abet this development. At the very least, the developer should be expected to demonstrate that this project would meet all water quality regulations prior to even considering a contract to provide water supply, but it appears that a contract will actually go to the Board prior to Lazy 9 having even demonstrated ability to comply! Further, given LCRA's often stated commitment to preserving water quality as part and parcel of providing water supply, it is suggested that LCRA should begin the negotiations from the position that Lazy 9 should commit to achieving no net increase in pollutants shed from the land being developed, including both the stormwater management plan and the wastewater management plan.
road is rapidly agin'
For more information see www.hillcountryalliance.org or call Christy