Southwest Austin - Dripping Springs Edition | March 2022

and we are passionate about helping steer that growth responsibly while preserving the land and the wildlife.” Nearby, the city of Austindischarges some of its treated water back into the Lower Colorado River once it meets state and federal quality standards. About 60% of the water is fur- ther treated and used as “reclaimed water”—clear, odorless and not harm- ful to humans if they come in contact with it—which is used to irrigate prop- erties, according to the city of Austin. For now, Dripping Springs is not approving any new projects to receive wastewater services. Projects can receive a waiver if they were already promised the capacity or an exemp- tion if they use a septic system. Short of the disposal permit receiv- ing court approval, the city is explor- ing other options for wastewater, Sullivan said. Pausing the frenzy The second reason cited in the moratorium is the need to update the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. Ocials say the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance—created with input from Dripping Springs res- idents—will delineate between areas ideal for commercial and residential development. This guiding document will help the planning and zoning commission and City Council make decisions and negotiate when devel- opment proposals come before them. “The growth has just been outra- geous and phenomenal. We love it, but we hate it,” Mayor Bill Foulds said. Roads are so packed that busi- nesses are forced to delay their rst appointments until after the morning rush hour, and the city lacks other resources such as a police department and public transportation, Foulds said. A few council members have

similar growth. Bastrop, a city of just under 10,000 people in Bastrop County, enacted a moratorium in 2018 when develop- ment posed a ooding risk. In Taylor, a city of about 17,000 in Williamson County, ocials were pre- paring for growth even before Sam- sung selected the area for a $17 billion new facility in 2021. “We know the population is going to boom, sowe are preparing for it,” Com- munications Ocer Stacey Osborne said. “The growth is inevitable because of our proximity to Austin.” She said Taylor leadership has updated its comprehensive plan after receiving extensive feedback from the community about how it would like to see the city expand. Kyle, a city of more than 50,000 in Hays County, is already seeing rapid growth. “We are on track to have a record year this year, but like all of Central Texas, it has been ramping up for years,” Assistant City Manager Amber Lewis said. Lewis said the city recently updated its transportation plan and is looking to update its comprehensive plan. But she said the city cannot wait on that plan to begin steering growth to match local leaders’ and community members’ expectations. In Dripping Springs, city leaders have said they want to maintain the city’s charm in the face of unprece- dented growth and get feedback from residents on what that might look like. But, right now, the focus is on addressing basic needs. “I think there’s some things every- body is in agreement on,” Manassian said. “We all want to move about the city more freely.”

expressed skepticismabout how inu- ential the moratorium will be in buy- ing the city time to develop the plan. Council Member Georey Tahua- hua abstained from the February vote to extend the moratorium after stating he was unsure if continuing the land-use portion—essentially, continuing to cite the need for the updated comprehensive plan—was eective. Council Memeber Sherrie Parks voted against the extension. Mayor Pro Tem Taline Manassian has expressed concern about how the moratorium is being implemented as many projects have received waivers and exemptions. “THE GROWTHHAS JUST BEENOUTRAGEOUS AND PHENOMENAL. WE LOVE IT, BUTWE HATE IT.” BILL FOULDS, DRIPPING SPRINGS MAYOR The moratorium can only last for 180 days under the land-use provi- sion, according to the city, meaning that clause will expire mid-summer. The city’s comprehensive plan is not expected to be nisheduntil December. Foulds and city sta said they hope to have a better idea of what the plan will look like by the time the morato- rium is lifted and begin applying its principles even if it is not ocially approved by then. The moratorium over wastewater concerns can be extended inde- nitely, according to the city. Currently, it is scheduled to expire in May. Suburban sprawl Hays County is the fastest-grow- ing area in the U.S., according to 2020 census data. The county grew by 83,960 residents in the decade to 241,067 in 2020. Most Central Texas cities are seeing

Wastewater DISPOSAL ISSUES The Dripping Springs wastewater facility can treat 500,000 gallons of wastewater; however, the city can only dispose of 187,000 gallons per day through irrigation elds. Most of that capacity is currently being utilized and the rest is promised to developments.

500,000 gallons Potential facility wastewater capacity per day

170,000 gallons Average wastewater usage per day

187,000 gallons Actual wastewater disposal capacity per day


AustinWater disposes of some of its treatedwastewater in the Lower ColoradoRiver. About 60%of its treatedwastewater is used to irrigate residential and commercial properties. residential properties with treated wastewater; and/or • dispose of it in Onion Creek However, that permit is tied up in court. Dripping Springs has applied for a discharge permit from the state that would allow it to either: • irrigate commercial and

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