Background information:Drought has historically threatened Austin's water sources. From 2008 to 2016, Central Texas experienced one of the worst droughts on record. Though Austin didn't run out of water, the Highland Lakes were drained to only 1/3 full and water restrictions were placed city-wide. The drought highlighted the dangers of having only one drinking water source.

Climate scientists have predicted that Austin will likely see even longer and deeper periods of drought, punctuated by very heavy rain events. Texas could also see drier conditions in the second half of the 21st century than it has in the past 1,000 years (according to a 2020 UT and A&M study). Add rapid population growth onto that and it's clear the city needs to plan for a more resilient water future.

 

Water Forward Guiding Principles:

The purpose of Water Forward is to develop and implement diverse and environmentally conscious water management strategies to adapt to growth, drought, and climate change and ensure a sustainable, resilient, equitable, and affordable water future for our community for the next 100 years.

  • Create a plan that is resilient to growth, drought and climate change 
  • Use a holistic and inclusive approach to water resource planning that incorporates the Austin community’s values 
  • Include diverse water management strategies that make use of all water sources, including reuse, conservation, and efficiency 
  • Protect the health of the Colorado River and natural environment 
  • Minimize implementation and operational risk
  • Use an equity and affordability lens to develop and implement the plan 
  • Focus on locally available water supplies 

Question title

Ask your questions about Water Forward here:

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live
Community Engagement

  • Description: Engage the Austin community in a meaningful and intentional way
  • Join us on January 23rd & 24th at 6 p.m. for two workshops to share information and receive feedback on the Water Forward 2024 plan update.
  • The 23rd will be an in-person meeting at the Permitting and Development Center (6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr, Austin, TX 78752, Room 1406) at 6 p.m.
  • The 24th will be a virtual workshop at 6 p.m. Click the link to register. Both workshops will cover the same material. 
  • Look below for videos about the Water Forward Plan and how staff are incorporating equity and affordability in this plan update process.

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Refine planning methodology

Click here to read about the methodology from the Water Forward 2018 Plan.

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complete
Forecast baseline water demands

Estimate and forecast population, employment, and baseline water demands

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complete
Update climate & hydrology analysis

Develop streamflow projections that reflect impacts of climate change and drought

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complete
Identify water resource needs

Determine preliminary water supply needs by comparing forecasted demands and supply

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live
Identify, screen, and characterize strategies

Develop information about potential water management strategies

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planned
Develop and evaluate 50-year water resource portfolios

Develop near-term (50-year) water resource portfoloios to meet future needs

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planned
Develop plan recommendations and 100-year adaptive management plan

Develop long-term (100-year) plan recommendations