Report: February 2nd Zoning and Platting Commission Meeting
Presentations from Mike Kelly and Kevin Shunk from the Austin Watershed Protection Dept.
In a recent city Zoning and Platting Commission meeting on February 2nd, a briefing was held regarding development impacts on Austin creeks. To start the discussion, two speakers from the Austin Watershed Protection Department gave an informative presentation on their experience dealing with flooding, erosion, and water quality city-wide. They highlighted the ways in which development of land near our creeks directly affects us and our environment.
The first impact noted is through the increase of impervious cover. Adding new obstructions to the flow of creeks and streams increases the amount of runoff produced and also alters natural flow paths. These negative impacts are especially worsened during flooding events and can severely damage the delicate natural environments within our watershed. Physical observations include decreased water quality, hydrology, as well as increased bacteria levels. For our creeks, this means greater loss of biodiversity, stream bed widening, and loss of natural riparian functions — just to name a few.
Additionally, surrounding man-made structures can be damaged from stream migration at a cost to homeowners, private business owners, and the city. These erosive results are visible through damaged bridges, roadways, homes, and other structures both natural and man-made.
Some solutions that the presenters mentioned included currently employed tactics like uses and improved maintenance of regional detention ponds, building elevated roadways, and partnering with developers to lessen impacts to surrounding waterways and drainage systems.
These are positive solutions to continue implementing, but there was still an overwhelming emphasis on the need for more remediation and protection. The future will call for more tactics like strengthening city regulations, increased use of large filtration ponds, incorporating green infrastructure into the city’s ongoing planning process, and researching new ways to combat the negative impacts of development.
Overall the presentation made it clear just how important a role we and our city planners play in protecting the wellbeing and health of our creeks, as well as our own health and safety.”