County to take up water rule proposals

Commissioners Court to consider regulations for development.

Dear FA Friends, Neighbors and Members,

What follows is from today’s Statesman. In light of LCRA’s recent abdication to TCEQ of their responsibility for their pipelines, and the pollution complaints brought on by their provision of water to “West Cypress Hills” that has in turn caused their Lick Creek neighbors to notice a dramatic degradation of their once pristine creek, this has caused Travis County to fianlly take notice, much as we in Hays did a few years back. While Gerald Daugherty, the Travis County Commissioner for SW Travis, is credited with beginning discussions in his area regarding these issues, it should be noted that he was the one participant in our Regional Water Quality Plan Process who arguably resisted the planning process the most. While he has initiated some dialogue in Travis, now that these issues have reared their heads in his own backyard precinct, one must not forget his vocal resisitance to these very same planning concepts when they affected us, here in Hays. This is not so clear in this article. For the sake of SW Travis, let’s hope this is indicative of a change of heart as opposed to the appearance of a Trojan Horse.

County to take up water rule proposals Commissioners Court to consider regulations for development.

By Marty Toohey AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Tuesday, July 19, 2005 Travis County today will discuss a set of proposed water quality regulations designed to beef up its weak regulatory authority and avoid a repeat of the damage to a pristine creek caused by construction in a nearby subdivision.

The regulations would cover an array of topics, from new administrative processes to restrictions on building along ridgelines, waterways and other features deemed environmentally sensitive.

Some rules would be entirely new. Others would mirror those created by other agencies, effectively allowing the county to act as another enforcer.

After the county Commissioners Court hears the proposals today, there will be a 30-day public comment period.

Travis County, the governmental entity primarily responsible for unincorporated areas, now has limited authority over what’s built, where it’s built and how it’s built.

County Judge Sam Biscoe said the county has for years tried to beef up its subdivision regulations, which “didn’t really have teeth.”

In 2001, the state Legislature broadened the power of counties to regulate development, and Travis began examining how to use that authority, Biscoe said.

In 2003, people living along Lick Creek began complaining of chalky runoff in the waters. The Lower Colorado River Authority eventually fined an upstream development, West Cypress Hills, $5,000 and temporarily halted construction because of improper building techniques.

The Lick Creek situation galvanized discussions about how best to regulate development in the county. Talks included the county’s role. They proceeded in fits and starts, as landowners, environmentalists, developers and neighborhood associations clashed over what power the county should exercise.

County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty held a series of talks among landowners, developers and residents in southwestern Travis County, which is mostly unincorpor- ated.

The talks ended in June with a list of recommendations.

In March, as the talks were going on, the Commissioners Court issued a near-morator- ium on building in unincorporated areas after the various interests disagreed on the merits of some proposed regulations.

The moratorium, which will expire July 31, was issued to buy time to make the regulations more palatable.

The regulations that the county is now considering probably will be supplanted again late this year or early next year. The county, officials have said, will continue refining its regulations and present a more permanent set later.

mtoohey@statesman.com; 445-3673

Proposed water quality regulations

For a copy of Travis County’s proposed regulations, call the office of County Judge Sam Biscoe at 854-9555. The Commissioners Court will hear a presentation of the proposed rules today. They include:

– Minimum distances that buildings must be from ridgelines and waterways.

– Extra building requirements for developments on sloped land.

– Identical steps for dealing with stormwater runoff as required by the Lower Colorado River Authority.

– A requirement that developers prove early in the approval process that water and sewer utilities will provide adequate service by the time residents move in.