Linear Feet of Storm Drain Infrastructure Installed or Replaced by WPD
This measure reflects all new storm drain infrastructure installed and existing storm drain infrastructure repaired by the Field Operations Division, and installation by outside contractors for the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) projects sponsored by the Watershed Engineering Division. Austin's stormwater infrastructure includes approximately 1,100 miles of storm drain lines, and the Watershed Protection Department estimates that more than 15% of these pipelines are more than 60 years old. Existing storm water lines in the urban core are a particular source of problems, as these lines are subject to more intense pressure from urban infill development and redevelopment, which may compound problems with pipeline conveyance, or holding capacity. Some pipelines have become outdated through changes in design criteria, have exceeded their anticipated service life, and/or have become structurally compromised. Failure of the structural integrity or function of a storm drain system in any part of the city poses the risk of flooding in the affected area.
At the completion of localized flooding hazard mitigation projects, design plans are used to total the feet of storm drain infrastructure installed or replaced for the reporting period. For larger projects that span multiple years, the last paid project payment application of a fiscal year is used to determine the number of linear feet that have been installed and paid for by the City of Austin.
FY 2015-16 Results
The FY 2015-16 target for this measure was 2,500 linear feet of storm drain infrastructure installed or replaced, and the actual total was half that at 1,224 linear feet installed or replaced.
Assessment of Results
Storm drain projects require a great deal of effort compared to the amount of linear footage of pipe installation. Many of the infrastructure replacements revolve around the flooding impacts; however, unforeseen aging infrastructure failures also require immediate replacements. In Fiscal Years 2010-11 and 2011-12, Watershed Protection staff achieved higher results than in subsequent years by utilizing funding allocated in the 2006 Bond Proposition 2 for flood control, erosion control, water quality, and stormwater drainage, allowing for a large number of storm drain projects to be completed. In FY 2015-16, three small CIP projects were planned, but one was delayed due to potential downstream impacts. A combination of staffing positions that have remained vacant longer than anticipated and an increase in emergency repair work due to infrastructure failures and extreme weather events, as shown by significant rain events throughout FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16, has required staff to delay planned projects and has negatively impacted this measure.
The Watershed Protection Department continues to identify problem areas and analyze potential solutions using available design staff. The Localized Flood Hazard Mitigation Program will continue to focus on improving aged and inadequate drainage systems throughout the city. Approved positions included in the FY 2016-17 Budget will provide an increase in staffing levels for this important function, enabling crews to plan, schedule, and construct projects while also responding to severe weather events and emergency infrastructure repairs. Finally, the Department has started a change in its business delivery service model to increase the number of small projects constructed. This service delivery change is expected to provide more effective design and construction of storm drain projects.
For more information, contact Joseph Zerda, Project Manager of Field Operations Division at (512) 974-1522.