Sandy Creek Park pump station gets BRCUA approval

The Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority board approved a resolution July 17 that supports building a water pump station at Sandy Creek Park near Volente. The station is needed to complete a three-city water system.

The water utility's board agreed to build the pump station at Sandy Creek Park because they feel no better alternative location exists. The request to build on parkland must now go to the Lower Colorado River Authority, which owns the land, and the Travis County Parks Department for approval before an agreement for BCRUA to purchase the land can be finalized.

If approved, the BCRUA can proceed on the $180 million project to build a deeper, permanent water intake pipe in Lake Travis that will transport water underground through Volente to the proposed pump station in Sandy Creek Park. The water would then be sent to BCRUA's main water treatment plant in Cedar Park before being treated and distributed to all three member cities: Cedar Park, Leander and Round Rock.

BCRUA consultants said the new water system could be live by 2018–2020.

A public hearing was held as part of the July 17 meeting, which was also attended by the Cedar Park, Leander and Round Rock city councils. Two people addressed the BCRUA board and three councils, including Volente Mayor Justine Blackmore-Hlista, who supported the project after years of debate between the village of Volente and BCRUA leaders.

The pump station was originally slated to be built in Volente near residents, but a compromise was made to relocate the structure outside village limits. The pump station, if approved, would now be built next to the existing Cedar Park water treatment plant in Sandy Creek Park.

"That site is consistent with the adjacent use, is substantially buffered from nearby residents and does not permanently alter the use of the park," Blackmore-Hlista said to the board. "So, from our perspective, this is the only prudent alternative, and it supports the goals of the region."

The other speaker, resident Paul Thompson, lives across the street from Sandy Creek Park and spoke out against the project, claiming he already endures noise and light pollution from the existing Cedar Park water treatment facility.

"The prudent thing to do before spending millions of dollars would be to better use the water we're already using and use that [$180 million] more wisely," Thompson said.

The BCRUA board approved the resolution unanimously. All three city councils also passed the first reading of an ordinance that supports building the pump station in Sandy Creek Park. Each city council is expected to vote on the second reading of the ordinance during its next meeting.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.