Construction company charged with pollution in downtown Austin


AUSTIN (KXAN) – A contractor on a 39-story condo project in downtown Austin is facing a city pollution charge.

KXAN News obtained court records detailing a case for “pollutants discharged” against Rogers O’Brien Gilbane, LLC, a contractor on the 5th & West project at the intersection of Fifth Street and West Avenue near Shoal Creek.

A Watershed Protection inspector found murky water flowing from the construction site, through a drainage pipe and into “a nearby creek basin,” according to a court document filed March 29 by an investigator for the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department.

The record goes on to state that the project manager admitted to problems with groundwater getting into the site and indicates crews tried a “number of ways to contain [the water] and clean it” before the water left the site, but that efforts have “continually failed.”

The company is now fighting the charge, with an environmental trial set for July 6.

“…the criminal nature of this citation may unjustly impact [Rogers, O’Brien, Gilbane, LLC’s] ability to bid on future construction projects in Texas and elsewhere,” states a filing from an attorney representing the contractor.

The filing from the contractor also states that a pipe “transporting the water from the excavation pit to the water treatment area began to leak,” in March, when the city was contacted.

The charge is a Class C Misdemeanor, according to a city spokesperson. Traffic tickets fall into the same category.

KXAN News reached out to Rogers O’Brien Gilbane, LLC by email, phone, and through their attorney’s office. The company did not agree to an interview or provide a statement for this story.

City of Austin officials also would not comment, citing the fact that the case is still in court.

This isn’t the first instance of pollution allegations near Shoal Creek. In February, KXAN reported on murky water the Shoal Creek Conservancy believed was related to construction. It is unclear if the construction company in this case is in any way related to the water quality earlier this year.

“We’re extremely pleased that the city is protecting the quality of our waters, that’s part of their obligation,” said Ted Siff, board president for Shoal Creek Conservancy.

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