West Austin neighborhoods consider fire preparation bond

Update: The Water District 10 board decided NOT to put the bond on the ballot. Board President Clif Drummond said that the board decided that the $5 million proposal would carry too much of a tax impact for people in the district. Drummond said the board will now look to create a more affordable proposal for the May 2015 election cycle.  The goal is to have a water system that can provide enough supply to guarantee that fire hydrants can pump 2,000 gallons per minute.  The state minimum is 250 gallons per minute.


 

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several West Austin neighborhoods are considering a putting a proposal to better protect against wildfires on the November ballot. The bond would increase how much water fire hydrants can pump in Water District No. 10, including Westlake Hills and Rob Roy.

The problem is that some fire hydrants in West Austin, like those denoted by red, orange, or yellow accents, cannot pump as much water as firefighters would like them to. This leads to big concerns if there were a bad fire in this part of town.

Wildfire experts rank parts of West Austin as one of the highest-risk areas in the country for a devastating fire. Housing developments nestled in dry vegetation and steep hills and valleys make fighting fires more difficult in this area. On top of that, firefighters say that outdated hydrants make the people who live here even more vulnerable.

“The low flow is actually insufficient to be able to supply some of that larger equipment that we may need to protect the rest of the community by suppressing that one fire,” District Chief Michael Lacey, Fire Marshal for the Westlake Fire Department, said.

“I’m someone who has extra fire alarms scattered throughout my children’s rooms and house,” Rollingwood resident Henley Sims said. “So I hate to think that if a fire did go off, they couldn’t do anything about it.”

If this bond item were to pass on the November ballots, it could mean that certain West Austin residents will be paying (on average) $1,300 more per year on their water bill.

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