Friday, September 25, 2009

City Watershed Project: Overview

Here's a summary and history of the City of Austin Watershed Protection and Development Review's (WPDR) plans (or what I know of them) for the Willowbrook Reach.
  • In 2007, FLWR received a grant from Keep Austin Beautiful for plants and a butterfly garden. As part of this process, we learned that WPDR had plans to work on the reach.
  • WPDR had decided to deal with the erosion, flood control and water movement issues in the Reach. Another goal of their work is to deal with the exposed water and sewer pipes crossing the Reach.
  • Over the subsequent two years, WPDR contracted engineers and landscape architects to draw up plans for the Reach Project. WPDR's Mike Kelly is the overall project lead and George Walker is the project manager.
  • In September 2009, WPDR presented preliminary plans for their project at a meeting with the greater Rosewood neighborhood association. (This is because they are also planning to do similar work on a downstream section of Boggy Creek at Rosewood Park.) Members of FLWR were present at the meeting. We also learned at that time from Christina Calvery at Public Works that they will be updating the water infrastructure underneath E. 40th and Willowbrook Reach streets as well.
  • Preliminary plans call for: small realignments of the creek bed from Cherrywood Road to 381/2 Street. The creek bed will be raised. All vegetation will be cleared from the creek and replanted with native shrubs and perennials. The banks of the creek will be widened. New trees will be planted on the outskirts of the Reach near the streets. New systems will be put in place for filtering runoff from the streets. At this time, there are no immediate plans for work upstream of Cherrywood Rd or downstream from 381/2 (until you get to Rosewood Park). No other projects are in the budget.


dancingonthePath said...

Thanks for the summary. However, it may be helpful to mention that many of the large trees will be cut down as well, including several beautiful pecan trees. We are not sure that this is necessary, and are very sure that the Reach that we all know and love will disappear.

The City may plant "replacement" trees, but those trees will be skinny sticks that will take many many many years to even begin to really replace what will be cut down.

IF they even live, as there doesn't seem to be adequate maintenance and sustenance care for the project in the first 5 years.

At this point, the City has not factored in wildlife management and safety into the overall plan. The birds and turtles will be disturbed at best, harmed at worst.

In addition, the sewer project and removal of pipes is actually a separate City project that will go ahead even if the creek project does not. That is our understanding.

All in all, we are not convinced that the project as it stands in really useful, necessary or desirable.

dancingonthePath said...

We also forgot to mention that the beautiful willows that Willowbrook Reach is named after will be "removed."

Anonymous said...

From what I understand the project was not conceived for "flood-control", but rather an effort to restore what used to look like a barren open ditch to more of a natural ecosystem with flatter slopes and native vegetation. I beleive they are trying to do the right thing, but left out do-nothing or changing maintenance practices as options. This speaks to the question of why we are mowing down our creeks regulary all over town. This appears to be an outdated management style that should be discussed. A natural creek does not look like a golf course.