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KUT News Roundup: LCRA Water Plan Woes, Erroneous Energy Bills, Pumping Oil With Pollution

Let's take a midweek look at the top Austin and Central Texas stories from and StateImpact Texas, KUT's reporting partnership with NPR.

LCRA About to Finalize Water Plan Through 2020

A vote is imminent on a plan that would regulate water use from the Highland Lakes to the Gulf Coast until 2020. The Lower Colorado River Authority heard public comment Tuesday from a wide range of people on its water management plan. “It’s really hard for me to be speaking here today, because we are staring down the devastation of the drought of 2011,” said Janet Caylor, representing businesses on Lake Travis. “And as y’all are aware, there have already been multiple bankruptcies, loss of jobs, many are struggling to stay in business.”

Austin Energy System Errs in Billing

Austin Energy is having some problems with its billing system. In 2009, the city-owned utility signed a contract with IBM to establish and maintain the system. It was supposed to go live in April 2011, but that didn’t go as planned. Now, Austin Energy is telling people to scrutinize their bills for errors that may have resulted in overbilling.

How the Biggest Power Plant in Texas Will Use Pollution to Pump Oil

In past years, the W. A. Parish power plant outside Houston in Fort Bend County has ranked near the top of national lists for “Most Polluting Power Plants.” It has also been lauded for it’s efforts to reduce emissions. Now, this power behemoth, the biggest power plant in Texas and second biggest fossil fuel-burning plant in the nation, is planning to build one of the country’s more innovative pollution control projects. It will use some of its pollution to pump oil out of the ground.

Education Funding Rose in 2011? Checking the Facts

Lawmakers ponied up a bit for public schools in the late 1990s; did they do it again in 2011? KUT’s Nathan Bernier spoke with Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s fact checking project PolitiFact Texas about two politicians’ contentions about increasing education funding, particularly Republican State Rep. Myra Crownover’s online letter to constituents saying that the 2011 Legislature, despite all its money troubles, spent more state money on public education.

UT Profs Pioneers 'Intersections of the Future'

A technology professor at the University of Texas has created an autonomous intersection management system that could pave the way for self-driven cars.  Computer science professorPeter Stone has been working on what he calls “intersections of the future” for about a decade. “A Ph.D. student of mine, Kurt Dresner, had the idea,” Stone said. “He was late for a meeting with me because he was stuck at a red light that he thought was far too long. And he thought, ‘You know, once cars are autonomous we can do a lot better than that.’”

Tolly Moseley is currently an intern at KUT News.
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