Austin voters can decide in November whether to support $30 million in bonds to buy land and development rights to protect water quality in the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer. Proposition 13 is the latest in a history of bond initiatives aimed at steering developers away from land in the Barton Springs recharge zone.
Much of the rain that falls on the porous limestone of the Barton Springs zone trickles underground and, ultimately, washes into Barton Springs. Since 1998, the city of Austin has spent $128.4 million to acquire the land or development rights of 26,577 acres. Other government entities and environmental groups have contributed an additional $14.9 million toward the acquisitions.
The Travis County Republican Party opposes all seven propositions in the $385 million bond package, saying the city shouldn't take on more debt. However, Proposition 13 has widespread support, as have previous water quality bonds. It is endorsed both by environmental groups, which generally are opposed to suburban development in the environmentally sensitive Hill Country, and by real estate interests, as the stymieing of development on some tracts typically makes neighboring land more valuable.