Recently Austin Water and the City of Austin unveiled the area’s first reclaimed water tower. Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Council Member Sheryl Cole, and Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros were present to cut the ribbon on the 51st Street Reclaimed Water Tower, the first of seven towers planned.
As a means to conserve water, Austin began providing reclaimed water as early as 1974, mainly to golf courses. Now this highly treated wastewater is not only used for irrigation but for cooling and manufacturing. The city uses 1.7 billion gallons/year of reclaimed water for non-drinking purposes and plans call for more than tripling that amount to 5.5 billion gallons/year. In support of this goal, the City of Austin retained the firm of CDM to design the high profile, elevated water tank in the Mueller-Windsor Park neighborhood.
Two CAEE alumni from the firm have been involved with the Austin Water Reclamation Initiative (WRI) over the past ten years. Harvey Mitschke (BSCE 1969) and Allen Woelke (BSCE 1979, MSCE 1985) contributed to preliminary work that enabled the successful completion of the award winning tower.
Mitschke participated in the reclaimed water initiative by managing construction of the transmission main from the Walnut Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) to the Morris Williams Golf Course (Phase 1 and 1A) from 2000-2002. He is also serving as Project Manager for the past year and a half on the new tower construction, on an extension line from the elevated reclaimed water storage tank and on pump improvements to the Walnut Creek WWTP.
Woelke, Vice President at CDM, has been a part of the engineering design team, developing the water pumping and storage facilities at the Walnut Creek WWTP from 1999-2003. Pumping equipment consists of two low-service pumps, a 1.5 million gallon ground storage tank, and three high-service pumps at the Walnut Creek WWTP.
Reclaimed water is created for this tower by reusing treated wastewater effluent that is normally discharged into the Colorado River. It will serve the University of Texas, the First Tee of Greater Austin, the Morris Williams Golf Course, the Austin Children’s Shelter, Seton Hospital, green spaces at the Mueller Redevelopment, as well as Bartholomew Park and the Hancock Golf Course. It will soon be available to serve the UT Intramural Fields and other parts of the UT main campus.
The tower holds two million gallons of reclaimed water and also features 48 solar panels for the roof of the tower as well as a rain water harvesting system integrated into its design. It is the also the first tank to have a photovoltaic system on top of it which is designed to completely offset all of the tank’s annual electrical demand while returning excess electricity to the grid.
Three other University of Texas alumni who work at CDM have also participated in the reclaimed water initiative. Jeannie Wiginton (B.A. Microbiology 1975), Gail Hamrick-Pigg (B.S. Engineering Science, 1985) and Roger Schenk (M.A. Geography, 1984) provided integral support on the water tower project. Wiginton worked as CDM’s Client Services Manger and task leader for the public involvement portion of the project from 2003 through construction phase services. Hamrick-Pigg served as Project Manager of the elevated storage tank from 2006-2007 and Schenk worked with the city developing conceptual design criteria for the project’s implementation.
For more information, please contact Alumni Coordinator Laura Klopfenstein at (512) 471-1279 or firstname.lastname@example.org