Austin’s Cedar River could become Whitewater River Park

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(ABC 6 News) – The Austin City Council is getting its feet wet this week and considering a project that would turn the Cedar River into a whitewater attraction

A feasibility study costs $51,000 with the City contributing $10,000.

Community members approached the City Council last year about the project.

“The lightbulb came on about how transformative this could be for our downtown,” said Austin City Councilmember Jason Baskin.

The project could significantly change the dam in the river – replacing it with rocks to make to Whitewater rapids. The goal is to make the river a community space and bring more people downtown.

“It really opens up our economic development and quality of life opportunities,” Baskin added.

A Whitewater River means the community can break out their tubes, kayaks, and paddle boards, but Baskin says it could have environmental benefits too.

“You go back to 2004 and we had a huge downtown flood that really negatively impacted huge amounts of the community.”

In an area that’s long dealt with flooding, Baskin says replacing the decades-old dam could improve water flow and prevent flood risk.

Project engineers said in their report to the council that rapids could also open passageways for fish. The feasibility study will take 4 to 6 months to complete. Many other organizations are chipping in to fund this study as well including Hormel Foods, Pheasants Forever, and Austin HRA.