With rich Blackland prairie in the east to the rolling hills of the Edward’s plateau in the west, Austin’s diverse geography is home to thousands of plant and animal species. Unfortunately, not all of these organisms are beneficial; Austin’s natural resources and economy are being degraded by exotic invasive species.
Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and Walter E. Long Lake are man-made reservoirs (that are also known as lakes)!
Austin has numerous creeks throughout town. All are subject to flash flooding. The creek flooding program undertakes projects to protect lives and reduce property damage when these creeks overflow their banks.
The riparian zone is the transition area between the aquatic environment and the terrestrial environment. Healthy riparian buffers with mature vegetation provide a wide range of critical ecological and water quality services.
The EII is a program designed to continuously monitor and assess the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of Austin’s creeks and streams. Currently, all watersheds are monitored on a two-year rotating basis.
The primary goal of the Stream Restoration Program is development of safe and stable stream systems that protect the Austin community from erosion and encourage the use and enjoyment of Austin’s creeks and lakes.
The Flood Early Warning System monitors rainfall, water levels and low water crossings in Austin 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During a flood, we work closely with emergency managers for the most effective and timely community response.
Much of west Austin sits above the environmentally-sensitive Edwards Aquifer which supplies drinking water to more than 60,000 people, feeds countless springs, including Barton Springs, and supplies water to the Colorado River.
Before stormwater runoff reaches a creek, it usually flows through a system of smaller ditches and drainage pipes. Austin has over 1,100 miles of such systems. The Local Flood Program evaluates and upgrades these systems to address flooding.
The goal of the Pollution Prevention and Reduction Program is to prevent or minimize polluting discharges to Austin's creeks and lakes through the Spills and Complaints Response and Stormwater Discharge Permit programs.
The Regional Stormwater Management Program (RSMP) provides funding for the planning, design and construction of regional drainage improvements to reduce the risk of flooding in a specific watershed. To participate, developers may make a payment instead of constructing a detention pond or developers may construct approved off-site drainage improvements.
Stormwater monitoring staff collect water quality samples from creeks and small catchments during rain events, and manage flow gages. Staff also assess the performance of a variety of stormwater control measures (water quality structures, ponds, rain gardens, etc) to improve projects designed to benefit our water resources.
The Stormwater Treatment program designs, implements and evaluates engineered systems that reduce pollution in our creeks, lakes and aquifers. The program seeks to use stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product.
Stretching from Waterloo Park to Lady Bird Lake, the Waller Creek Tunnel helps reduce the risk of flooding in downtown Austin.
The Watershed Protection Strategic Plan is the guiding blueprint for our department. The Strategic Plan helps us understand and address existing flooding, erosion, and water quality problems. It helps us prepare for future challenges.
Wildfires are vital to the ecological health of many Central Texas natural areas. Since these natural areas are deeply valued and critical to our well-being, we must work together to become a fire-adapted community of informed and prepared citizens who collaboratively take action to safely co-exist with wildfire. Wildfires can, and will occur in Central Texas; but in a fire-adapted community, they do not have to be catastrophic.