Proposition D promises flood mitigation and water quality protection


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Early voting starts in one week on Monday, October 25. In Austin, your vote will decide if you want a $925 million bond package to pass in exchange for paying more taxes to the city. 

For an average Austin homeowner whose home value is at $305,000, a yes vote would mean agreeing to about a $61 increase in your taxes in one year. 

The bond package is made up of seven different propositions. Proposition D is for $184 million, aimed at preventing flooding. 

Of the $184 million, $112 million would be used for low-water crossing and drainage improvements. 

“We’re in a flash flood alley, which means we get these enormous storms and big floods in Austin,” said Matt Hollon, Planning Division Manager at the Austin Watershed Protection Department.

“Our drainage infrastructure has really been put to the test. A lot of those are 40, 50, 60, even more, years old,” he said.

$72 million of Prop D would be used for the city to buy out the land.

“Barton Creek, Slaughter Creek, Onion Creek, all those creeks are largely in natural condition today, so a lot of them are ranch land, otherwise, largely undeveloped land, but those are very quickly developing,” Hollon explained. “So once you replace the natural land cover with pavement and buildings and so forth, you get a lot of runoff.”

“Water that previously would’ve soaked into ground isn’t able to because it hits a rooftop or road,” said Angela Richter, Executive Director of Save Barton Creek Association. “So instead of being able to filter into the ground, it’s going more directly into our waterways, and it’s also picking up contaminants on those surfaces.”

When asked if they already knew what low-lying areas might benefit from the bond, the Watershed Department responded, “We currently have Capital Improvement Projects in planning stages to improve low water crossings on McNeil Drive, Nuckols Crossing, Oak Blvd. and in the Whispering Valley and West Cow Path neighborhoods.”

Those projects could receive some funding from the bond, but it will all depend on project timelines, costs and any other unforeseen circumstances. 

Hollon said some projects may start right away if the bond is approved. Others may take five to seven years.

The ballot language would read:

The issuance of $184,000,000 in tax supported general obligation bonds and notes for flood mitigation, open space and water quality and quantity for planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, and installing improvements and facilities for flood control, erosion control, water quality, water quantity, and storm-water drainage, and acquiring land, open spaces, and interests in land and property necessary to do so; and the levy of a tax sufficient to pay for the bonds and notes.

According to the city, the last time voters passed a bond package for flood mitigation was in November 2006.  
Some projects completed using that funding are:
  • Bayton Loop Flood Risk Reduction Buyouts
  • Lower Onion Creek Voluntary Home Buyout
  • Blunn Creek – Long Bow Storm Drain Improvements
  • Williamson Creek – Blarwood Storm Drain Improvements
  • East Bouldin – Euclid-Wilson Storm Drain Improvements
  • Shoal Creek – Allandale Storm Drain Improvements
  • Shoal Creek – Rosedale Storm Drain Improvements Phase 2
  • Boggy Creek Greenbelt – Reach B8 Stream Restoration
  • Boggy Creek – Cherrywood Greenbelt Stream Restoration
  • Fort Branch Creek – Reach 6&7 Channel Rehabilitation – Truelight and Eleanor

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