City works to curb fecal bacteria in creeks


by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @JadeM_KVUE

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 10 at 5:04 PM

AUSTIN--The City of Austin is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to curb fecal bacteria in Austin waterways.

The focus is on four watersheds: Waller Creek, Walnut Creek, Taylor Slough South and the Spicewood Tributary to Shoal Creek.

"Some of these creeks do flow into Lake Austin, which is where the city of Austin currently withdraws its drinking water," said city of Austin environmental engineer Chris Herrington.

Herrington says the contamination comes from leaking wastewater pipes, rain run-off, pet and wildlife waste, and from the homeless. The problem is especially bad along Waller Creek, which runs through downtown.

"Waller Creek is not beautiful. It's where a lot of homeless people live and do their business," said downtown Austin resident Michael Madison. "It's something we are always fighting against."

The city is proposing several solutions, including working directly with the homeless population and building public restrooms near the creek.

"It's difficult for them to access some of the business restrooms and there aren't very many public restrooms at all," said Herrington.

To clean up creeks, the city also plans to educate pet owners and enforce rules to remove waste at parks. They want to improve storm water runoff, fix faulty sewer lines, and add natural buffers along Austin streams.

The city will also increase testing to make sure the changes are working.

If you want to weigh in on the proposal, a public meeting is set for Wednesday at 6:30 pm at One Texas Center, Room 325, 505 Barton Springs Road. Parking is free.