More than 12 miles of shoreline for Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River run through the center of District 3. The watersheds in this district are considerably urbanized, with a high level of impervious cover and a relatively small amount of remaining undeveloped land. In addition, the majority of the development in this district was built out prior to the adoption of any watershed protection regulations for drainage or water quality.
Areas of older development generate uncontrolled, polluted stormwater runoff and contribute to the degradation of water quality, especially for the portions of East Bouldin, Tannehill, and Waller Creek watersheds within this district. High priority water quality problems are shaded in green on the map below.
Encroachment and alteration of natural waterways by older development results in eroding stream banks and threatened property. High priority erosion problems are indicated in yellow on the map below.
The middle portion of the Williamson Creek watershed near Heartwood Drive and Radam Circle is the second highest priority for flood mitigation in the city. High priority flooded structures and roadways are shown in red on the map below.
The majority of storm drains in District 3 (over 50 miles) were constructed before formal drainage criteria were adopted in 1977. These older systems are frequently undersized and substandard, which contributes to localized flooding of buildings, streets, and yards. Major clusters of drainage complaints are shown in blue on the map below.
The Watershed Protection Department addresses drainage and environmental problems using a three-tiered approach of capital improvement projects, programs, and regulations. Examples of these strategies in District 3 include:
- Capital Improvement Projects: Since the watersheds in District 3 were largely developed before watershed regulations were in place, capital improvement projects are a key tool. Watershed Protection has already completed numerous projects in this district, including the construction of regional water quality ponds, multiple storm drain improvements, and channelization projects to reduce flooding impacts on several urban creeks. The adopted City budget for fiscal year 2015 allocated money to allow for floodplain buyouts in the Williamson Creek watershed. Projects are also planned for the next five years to repair additional storm drain systems, retrofit water quality ponds in the Tannehill Creek watershed, and restore healthy vegetation along parts of Boggy Creek, Williamson Creek, and the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake.
- Programs: The Lady Bird Lake Cleanup program provides removal of trash and debris on and around Lady Bird Lake and typically removes over 120 tons of debris annually. Complaints regarding trash on Lady Bird Lake have reduced significantly since the program was instituted. To address the specific environmental concerns in East Austin, the East Austin Environmental Initiative was created in 1993 to foster a partnership between the City and its citizens. The Initiative educates the public and encourages citizen involvement to resolve environmental concerns. Eastside Environmental News is a bi-annual City newsletter that reports on environmental issues in East Austin.
- Regulations: Due to the extensive build-out of these watersheds, regulations will mostly apply to redevelopment projects, which are required to build water quality ponds and protect against additional erosion and flooding. Encroachment of buildings and parking areas is prohibited in the 25-year floodplain and significantly restricted in the 100-year floodplain.
More information on projects, programs, and regulations can be found at austintexas.gov/watershed