LCRA PIPELINE HEARINGS
The first public hearing on the proposed pipeline was held at LCRA's boardroom on April 21, 2004, after 18 months of meeting in private with 3 developers. Hundreds of people came out despite the hearing's inconvenient time of 1:00 PM on a Wednesday. Each speaker was given 3 minutes until the allotted 2 hours was used up. Many spoke eloquently and, after all was said, a pretty clear picture emerged showing why this pipeline should not proceed as proposed. A few of the many points that were or would have been made, if not for severely limiting time constraints:
1. A regional master plan is in the works which will provide a comprehensive look at the area, its environment, land-use possibilities and much more. LCRA has pledged its commitment to this planning process and backed up its commitment with funding of $100,000. Now the LCRA Board seems ready to bypass the planning process and authorize construction of the line.
2. The LCRA is violating an agreement, breaking their own promise. They signed an agreement with the SOS Coalition that they would not proceed with the proposed pipeline project until the regional plan is finalized.
3. The LCRA met with a few landowners, for a period of 18 months, working out details with no opportunity for public input. Even residents who share lot lines with the proposed developments were purposefully kept in the dark about the secretive negotiations. When they finally did get out a "fact sheet", LCRA made every effort to mislead. They made the disingenuous statement that the people who wanted the water were "three landowners, not developers". Right, landowners who want to develop their land. Wouldn't that make them developers?
4. The proposed number of taps onto the water line that LCRA claims makes the pipeline feasible, is 1,276 new homes. This, in itself, is outrageous. But wait, there's more. The pipe will be a biggie, 16 inches in diameter. LCRA says this is big enough to handle upwards of 5,000 homes! Environmental engineer Lauren Ross has been quoted in The Austin Chronicle as saying that the 16 inch line would actually have the capacity to serve as many as 26,000 households. Want to see the plan for the line? Check out the LCRA Pipeline page.
5. Even 1,276 homes will contribute approximately 2500 more cars added to an already over-taxed Hamilton Pool Road. Just think of all the reading you'll be able to catch up on while stuck in traffic for 30 minutes between Crumley Ranch Road and Highway 71.
6. All these new houses will be filled with families, many with children. Let's say it averages out to 2 per household - that would add about 2500 kids to local schools. What local schools? Good question. Bee Cave Elementary is already filled to capacity. None of the proposed developers has stepped forward and offered land for a new school. And building schools takes money - your tax dollars at work!
7. The environment will surely suffer. The Hudson's subdivision plan alone will put 468 houses on 250 acres of a 468 acre parcel. That means 60 foot wide lots, leaving precious little room for trees. How do you like them apples? And these crowded together houses would sit on a lovely hillside overlookng Rocky Creek. That's sewage from 468 homes right over the creek. That's 468 lawns, with their associated non-point-source pollution heading you know where (hint: it ain't uphill). Rocky Creek runs right into Barton Creek. It's all part of the essential and fragile Barton Creek watershed. Oh yeah, if that's not enough, Formby's development drains into Rocky Creek too. For pictures of the currently pristine Rocky Creek, take a look at the Developments page.
8. The LCRA makes the hard to swallow claim that this pipeline will protect the environment. Just how would this sort of density protect the environment? They say that the landowner-developers will be held to stringent standards. But many of us have personal experience (and some told their stories at the hearing) with the LCRA's inability to maintain oversight even on existing installations. How is LCRA's overworked staff going to be responsible for monitoring thousands of additional homes, developed by people who's primary interest may be cost-cutting to protect their bottom lines?
9. There's so much more but the overwhelming message seemed to be "what's the hurry?" Instead of rushing forward full-tilt, why not give the planning process a chance?
The second hearing was held on Thursday, May 6th, at the Dripping Springs High School. NOTE FROM EDITOR: I was out of the country and could not attend either of the 2 May meetings. If someone who was there would please write up short reports and email them to me, I'll insert them here.