Waller Creek remains a priority

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I really like seeing coverage of Waller Creek in the Daily Texan and want to add some information to your story from Feb. 1.

Waller Creek is indeed an important resource for the Austin community, as well as the university, and we take our responsibilities for the creek very seriously. Over the last couple years, some may have noticed our Landscape Services division clearing out invasive plant species, adhering to a plan focused on improving safety, ecosystem rehabilitation, with targeted habitat creation. Landscape Services is continuously monitoring for trash, seeding bare areas with native grass and wildflower mixes, and installing natural erosion controls. They periodically organize native planting events with student volunteers as well.  

Environmental Health and Safety coordinates two Waller Creek Clean-Ups every year (next one this spring — sign up here to learn more about clean-ups and planting events).  

The university is also planning for the future of the creek, so check out the 2012 Campus Master Plan, and look for a Waller Creek specific plan later this year.

Most recently, the university completed restoration of Waller Creek through the Dell Med Health District, becoming the first SITESv2 Gold certified project in Texas (SITES was developed jointly by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and UT-Austin School of Architecture). During the health district construction, university planners began an ongoing collaboration with the Waller Creek Conservancy.

There are also numerous faculty who use Waller Creek as part of their teaching and curriculum, a true example of a campus as a living lab. And we frequently help set up tours of Waller Creek for undergraduate and graduate classes as well as campus visitors.

The university’s love for the creek is reflected in its ongoing efforts to manage and improve the quality of the water in collaboration with our partners that share this important responsibility.

Jim Walker is Director of the UT Office of Sustainability.