Somewhat Good News Amid Austin’s Drinking Water Crisis

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Indiana’s balanced-budget proposal … newly discovered quake faults in Oregon … and “demographic time bomb” in a Colorado ski town.

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is water news in Austin, Texas but scroll down for more from places like Portland, Oregon (which faces new earthquake risks); Billings, Montana (where STDs are on the rise); and Westchester County, New York (which got some less-than-ideal fiscal news).

INFRASTRUCTURE | After local authorities in Austin, Texas issued a boil-water advisory for all Austin Water customers and warned that it may be in place for 10-14 days, the agency on Tuesday said things may be back to normal by the end of this weekend. “Based on the most current information we do not anticipate our water issues to last beyond a handful of days,” according to Greg Meszaros, Austin Water’s director. “Much of that estimate, however, depends on variables such as weather and consumption demands. We continue to make long term plans in the event this situation isn’t resolved quickly.” Heavy rainfall has led to silt levels in Lake Austin and Lake Travis five times higher than have ever been seen before, which has caused major treatment headaches for the water utility. [@AustinWater; KUT]

PUBLIC HEALTH | In Yellowstone County, Montana, which includes the city of Billings, public health officials are seeing sexually transmitted diseases rise at an alarming rate, including gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. [Billings Gazette]

PUBLIC CORRUPTION | Former Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who was found guilty on a variety of federal public corruption charges earlier this year, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday. [WPVI; The Morning Call]

EARTHQUAKES | While Oregon faces significant risks from the next Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, a massive seismic event offshore that will bring widespread destruction across the Pacific Northwest, seismologists say Portland, Oregon also faces a more localized quake hazard from newly discovered faults on Mount Hood. Researchers from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries say the faults are capable of producing a magnitude 7.2 quake. [Willamette Week]  

BUDGET & FINANCE | Indiana voters will be considering a balanced-budget constitutional amendment that also includes “clauses requiring pension liabilities to be fully funded and forbidding courts from ordering the state to raise revenues or cut spending.” [Purdue University]An audit released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli paints a dismal fiscal picture for Westchester County. [LoHud.com]

ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION | North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest released a video last week “with step-by-step instructions for ‘organized groups’ to commit voter impersonation, a felony in North Carolina.” [@NCCapitol / WRAL]

HOUSING | A “demographic time bomb” is “ticking inside Colorado’s priciest real estate market,” and is expected to overwhelm an “innovative resort-community affordable housing program.” [Colorado Sun] … Charlotte, North Carolina is struggling to build affordable housing for its poorest residents, despite spending $124 million on affordable housing over the past 16 years. [NextCity]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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