AUSTIN (KXAN) — City council approved the design contracts for two water reservoirs in south Austin that are meant to increase water access to people during emergencies. Southwest residents were hit hardest during the 2021 winter storm, according to Austin Water.

Southwest Parkway Transmission Main & Elevated Reservoir project and the South I-35 Elevated Reservoir project will enter the design phase for the next three years, be under construction for an extra three years, and be operational by 2030, Austin Water director Shay Ralls Roalson explained.

“We’ll make this water system for them much more robust and resilient,” Ralls Roalson said.

Circle C neighborhood reacts to new projects

Karen Hibpshman has been the manager of the Circle C homeowners association for the past 10 years, serving in that position during the 2021 winter storm. She said the impact of the storm was traumatic for the 18,000 people who call Circle C home.

“It was stressful because it was something completely out of our control,” Hibpshman said.

She said the neighborhood lost water for six days and she was answering more than 100 calls a day during the emergency.

Ralls Roalson said the neighborhood is the furthest away from its three water treatment plants and was the first to lose access to water. Ralls Roalson said the new water storage reservoirs will prevent similar water access issues.

“The more storage we have, the more people conserve, the more time we have as that water draws down to resolve the emergencies,” Ralls Roalson explained.

Hibpshman said she is happy to see the projects coming to the area.

“It’s very much needed. Southwest is growing very quickly. There’s more houses than the infrastructure can handle,” Hibpshman said.

Cost of projects

Ralls Roalson said the two projects will cost a combined total of $60 million. That money will come from the Austin Water’s approved Capital Improvement Projects budget.