Bee Cave, WTCPUA to examine partnership on irrigation of Central Park

Bee Cave's Central Park could benefit from a partnership between the city and West Travis County Public Utility Agency. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bee Cave's Central Park could benefit from a partnership between the city and West Travis County Public Utility Agency. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bee Cave's Central Park could benefit from a partnership between the city and West Travis County Public Utility Agency. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Bee Cave and the West Travis County Public Utility Agency will advance discussions to potentially broker a mutually beneficial partnership centered on irrigation, though skepticism from two City Council members in no way guarantees that partnership will happen.

The two entities have already been engaging in talks regarding watering options for Bee Cave Parkway’s medians and Bee Cave Central Park.

In a memorandum, WTCPUA states Central Park’s well and water storage tank configuration is incapable of meeting the needs of the park’s 50 acres.

“City staff is investigating options to address this issue, including the use of treated effluent and/or potentially drilling an additional well to act as a water supply source,” the memo states.

The 12 predominately grass medians along Bee Cave Parkway could also benefit from the partnership, as they do not contain an irrigation system, according to the memo, which states WTCPUA owns and operates a wastewater effluent force main running adjacent to the roadway.

Because both the parks and the medians possess a high demand for water that could be satisfied through irrigation, WTCPUA reasons in its memo a partnership with Bee Cave would utilize public resources more efficiently and sustainably, provide more predictability for the city and PUA in asset management, and broaden the landscaping palette beyond typical drought-tolerant species.

During City Council's Feb. 25 meeting, Lindsey Oskoui, Bee Cave director of planning and development, said a partnership like this is supported by the city's comprehensive plan but would need to prioritize the park over the medians.

"If you are interested, our next step is to work out the financials," Oskoui said, and pointed out council's vote to explore cost does not shackle the city to a deal. "We would need approval and separate action to actually proceed past research."

City Manager Clint Garza added staff do not yet have a clear idea of a timeline for when they can return to council with financial numbers, and Oskoui said the WTCPUA is still exploring options for the best methods to deliver irrigation.

"We should keep in mind the effluent [water] is a very valuable commodity in the summer," Mayor Bill Goodwin said and clarified he is not sold on the proposed partnership. "In the winter, no one wants it."

Dennis Lozano, an engineering consultant for WTCPUA, said there is still much to examine regarding what the partnership would look like and therefore could result in varying costs to the city.

The WTCPUA currently provides effluent water to the Falconhead Homeowners Association, Falconhead Golf Club and the Spanish Oaks Golf Club, and Lozano said while the agency is still having issues getting rid of its excess effluent water, those issues are diminishing.

"The PUA is not looking for a sink for effluent," Lozano said when pressed by Council Member Jon Cobb, and added he believes the partnership could be a good opportunity, but it would not be a crutch for the agency's effluent management strategy.

Cobb was not convinced the deal would be in the best interest of the Bee Cave for several reasons, including his belief that the WTCPUA would hold more control over the partnership than the city.

Despite skepticism from Cobb and Goodwin, council voted unanimously to pursue the possibility of the partnership.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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