City of Austin hopes to spend $75M fixing flood prone areas downtown

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department is asking for $75 million to help fix areas prone to flooding during storms. Planners have mapped out areas near the city’s core that need the most attention.

The money would come from a city bond package proposed for 2018. The last time the city’s watershed protection department received money from a bond was in 2006. The department received nearly $100 million, and that money has gone toward flood mitigation efforts in areas with major issues like Onion Creek. This time, planners say if bond money is approved, they’ll mostly focus on drainage projects in and around downtown Austin.

“In a lot of the urban core, we’ve got a lot of places that just get overwhelmed with medium-sized or small floods,” said Watershed Protection Department Planning Division Manager Matt Hollon.

The Watershed Protection Department estimates that around 1,900 homes and businesses are at immediate risk of severe damage, in the case of a major 100-year flood.

“Given that we’re in flash flood alley and these kind of rain bombs can hit at any time,” Hollon said, “those folks really are looking for some help.”

Hollon says the $75 million would cover the city’s most pressing projects concerning storm drain, creek flood and erosion.

“We’ve grown really quickly and a lot of our storm water infrastructure just hasn’t kept pace,” Hollon said.

The Watershed Protection Department receives funding through customers’ monthly utility bills. Hollon says the department plans to put around $37 million of its budget toward capital projects in the next year, but he says it’s not enough to address the many problem areas in urgent need of attention.

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