For years, Austin’s Waller Creek has been beset by severe flooding, erosion and water quality problems. When completed, the Waller Creek Tunnel will remove over 28 acres of downtown land from the 100-year floodplain.
In early February 2017, the Watershed Protection Department drained the Waller Creek Tunnel to inspect and clean it. The work is expected to continue through the end of April, weather permitting.
Under normal operating conditions, the tunnel holds 21.5 million gallons of gently-flowing water. This project consists of pumping this water from the tunnel into Lady Bird Lake and removing any accumulated sediment and debris. Download a Memo to Mayor and Council about this project.
Opportunity for Change
The Waller Creek Flood Control Tunnel Project will consist of a stormwater bypass tunnel that will address high priority flooding, erosion and water quality problems along lower Waller Creek, which are identified by the Watershed Protection Master Plan. The mile-long tunnel will safely convey floodwaters by capturing and redirecting floodwater from Waterloo Park to Lady Bird Lake. This project will create an opportunity to restore the creek and revitalize the Waller Creek District.
Design for a Better Future
The Waller Creek Tunnel will protect lives from the dangers of flash flooding, remove more than 28 acres of downtown from the floodplain, protect 42 structures, 12 roadways and create an environment suitable for redevelopment. The Waller Creek Conservancy is playing a key role in transforming Waller Creek into a vibrant, livable and workable district. Additional benefits include:
The new bridge over Waller Creek on the Butler Hike and Bike trail, completed April 2011
An adaptive source of baseflow in the creek that will enhance the ecological habitat along the creek
Reduced litter and trash in the creek
The Waller Creek Tunnel Project consists of five separate construction efforts. Their current scope and status is:
Main Tunnel – Completed
The main tunnel is one mile long and diverts flood waters from Waller Creek, carrying the water safely to Lady Bird Lake.
Waterloo Park Inlet Facility – In progress
The Waterloo Park Inlet Facility diverts flood waters into the tunnel and removes trash and debris from Waller Creek. It also recirculates water from Lady Bird Lake to create a constant flow of water in the creek. Several critical components have been completed such as the in-channel dam, inlet pond and the building. Work continues on the trash and debris management system. All components should be completed in 2017.
8th Street Creek Side Inlet – In progress
The 8th Street Creek Side Inlet will capture additional flood waters that flow toward the creek downstream of Waterloo Park. Like the main inlet, the 8th Street Creek Side Inlet will also collect trash and debris. We have completed the majority of the utility work necessary for excavating at the site. This project should be completed in 2017.
4th Street Creek Side Inlet – In progress
The 4th Street Creek Side Inlet diverts flood waters into chambers, called the Debris Screening Facility, where trash and debris are filtered out. Then the flood waters enter the tunnel. Most of the construction has been completed on the Debris Screening Facility. Work is continuing on the embankments and other elements along the creek. All work at this site should be completed in 2017.
Tunnel Outlet – Completed
The outlet facility is where the tunnel releases flood waters into Lady Bird Lake.