Watershed Protection

Message from the Director
The Watershed Protection Department (WPD) works to protect lives, property and the environment by reducing the impact of flooding, erosion and water pollution. Our programs are guided by our mission statement, by our Horizon Issues which reflect our changing needs as a growing city, and by our emphasis on being best managed and aligning our work with the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. WPD’s leadership in creating new and innovative ways to meet the needs of the public has served the community well. Our programs are efficient and effective because we combine data-driven decision-making with strategic partnerships as we work to address the watershed needs of our City.
WPD is building projects to solve today’s problems while creating opportunities for the future. In keeping with the City’s commitment to eco-friendly and sustainable policies, the department has made important inroads in the areas of green infrastructure and other innovative solutions. The devastation caused by the Halloween Floods of 2013 and 2015, and the Memorial Day Flood of 2015 has highlighted important and critical issues for WPD including the occurrence of extreme weather conditions (e.g., drought, flood) that will exacerbate the hazards of flood, erosion, and water quality problems.    
Below are a few of the department’s achievements in FY2014-15:
  • WPD continued the buyout program in Lower Onion Creek. In the 25-Year project area, 132 offers have been made, 127 offers have been accepted, and 114 properties have been acquired. In the 100-Year project area, 26 offers have been made, and 16 offers have been accepted.
  • The Shoal Creek Restoration project includes stormwater quality treatment and riparian restoration within Pease Park. A biolfiltration pond, wastewater relocation, the Custer’s Meadow and Windsor Meadow water quality features, riparian landscape restoration, invasive species removal and all block walls in Phase 1 are completed.
  • J.J. Seabrook Stream Restoration was a demonstration of city and community collaboration to provide a park trail system complex including a pedestrian bridge, riparian landscaping along a 900-foot-long section of the creek, and construction of rain gardens and vegetative swales.
  • The Waller Creek Corridor Framework Plan was completed and delivered by the Waller Creek Conservancy in FY 2014-15. This plan is the strategic document that allows the City to move forward in partnership with the Waller Creek Conservancy to realize our goal for Lower Waller Creek - to restore and revitalize the natural and built environment of Waller Creek from Lady Bird Lake to Waterloo Park. To that end, the Creek Mouth and Waterloo Park Design Phase Plans were initiated at the end of FY 2014-15.
  • In response to the Memorial Day flood event, over 900 3-1-1 calls were responded to by WPD personnel within a thirty-day period and over 200 tons of accumulated debris material were removed from channels, culverts and roadway crossings in order to ensure the proper conveyance of storm water through the drainage system.
  • City Council approved changes to the City Code adopting a methodology for computing a parcel’s drainage charge. The new method uses two major hydrologic parameters, the amount of imperious cover (IC) and the percentage of impervious cover (%IC) for each land parcel. The method is neutral to land-use type and the changes will make the drainage charge more reasonable and equitable.
We have worked to integrate our programs and activities with the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan and are committed to ensuring that they remain consistent and supportive of that vision in the years to come.
Joe Pantalion
City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15