As climate change and fast-paced growth proceeds in Austin, there is growing concern to both secure water supply for the future while conserving a finite resource for our region. Will you pledge to support an Austin future that prioritizes conservation, reuse, and local water supplies, and to oppose actions that would require pumping of groundwater in either the Edwards Aquifer or the Carrizo/Simsboro aquifers east of Austin beyond a sustainable level that matches rates of recharge? Rate your support on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most support and 1 being the least.

Natasha Harper-Madison

City Council, District 1

  1. I certainly support conservation, reuse, and innovative approaches to using our existing water supply and would want to ensure that we maintain those healthy levels of our aquifers. Water is a critical resource however, and I would also want to examine all options and determine what’s best for our City including but not limited to:
  • Downstream neighbors depend on water from the River so there has to be a balance with how much is used.  Rice Farmers downstream require a significant amount of water for submerging their fields. During drought, this is a competing interest.
  • Water restrictions during drought
  • More reclaimed water, one interesting method and is used in San Antonio is Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR). Excess water is returned to underground aquifers for storage until needed.
  • We should incentivize industry plants to treat and reuse their own water on site, reducing the demand of drinking water.
  • New landscaping strategies (xeriscaping), etc.
  • Reducing the amount of water lost in the water system due to aging infrastructure and old water meters, the Statesman reported that up to 4 billion gallons are lost.  Austin is below the national average in that category, but there are significant gains to be made. Austin has a current program to replace existing mechanical water meters with digital smart meters. This will both help with water loss at meters and help educate customers about their water usage.
  • During significant floods plants are impacted (flooded) with the potential for flowing wastewater into streams, plants must prepare for increased flooding conditions.
  • Increase penalties for construction projects that rupture water lines because they did not practice due diligence to identify the dig area.
  • Reward good actors who exercise best practices and conserve water, and penalize bad actors who ignore conservation efforts and wastewater.
  • Update the building code to require dual-flush toilets, no flush urinals, motion-sensing faucets, recycled water, and other conservation tools.
  • Update the city’s drainage plan every 3 years to make certain we are identifying problem areas and keeping the Capital Improvements Plan up to date.