July 21, 2016
Austin’s water conservation efforts got a significant boost on Thursday when the Texas Water Development Board authorized $167 million in low-interest financing for the Austin Water Utility.
The money will be used to expand the utility’s reclaimed water system and install advanced metering infrastructure with the aim of conserving water, which is essential to protect Austin’s drinking water supply as the city grows.
Reducing water use and water loss will also help keep bills lower for ratepayers under the city’s long-term contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority. Austin has been able to avoid paying an annual surcharge to LCRA by keeping water use below a certain level.
“Water conservation programs have been key to pushing off the date when ratepayers will have to begin picking up a bigger tab for their water,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, who was Austin’s mayor when the LCRA contract was signed in 1999. “These investments are a smart way for the City of Austin to protect its drinking water supply and its customers.”
Austin Water could save almost $18 million over the life of the loans, which are being financed by the state’s State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas. In 2013, Texas voters approved $2 billion to help local communities improve water management and infrastructure as provided by the State Water Plan.