The AWU Center for Environmental Research at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant is a partnership formed in 1989 with the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to support urban ecology and sustainability studies for Austin.
Numerous Texas universities along with federal and state agencies now work through the CER to utilize the Hornsby Bend site for education and research on biosolids, soil ecology, biodiversity, riparian ecology, and more. The CER auditorium and classrooms are used by a wide range of academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations for workshops, classes, and meetings.
CER sponsors Lunchtime Lectures, held every second Wednesday of the month NOW at Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Road and also at City Hall. The same lecture presented at Austin Water's headquarters will be repeated each month on a Wednesday at City Hall. Refer to the schedule. This year's series is 2013, The Geography of Rivers: Morphology, Ecology and Culture. These are free and open to the public, so bring and lunch and learn!
About Hornsby Bend
The biodiversity is present both because the sewage treatment plant is managed to encourage wildlife and because of the diversity of habitats at the site stretching along 3.5 miles of the Colorado River. One measure of this biodiversity is that Hornsby Bend is nationally known as one of the best birding sites in Texas – harboring over 370 species of birds and an abundance of other wildlife which is monitored through the CER’s citizen science programs and university researchers. The site is, also, a destination on the TPWD Heart of Texas Wildlife tourism trail.
Each year, thousands of tons of biosolids are anaerobically digested and composted with yard trimmings into an EPA-certified soil conditioner called Dillo Dirt. This product is donated to landscape public places and sold to commercial vendors for sale.