Parking around Austin just got a little easier because Wednesday the city launched EasyPark, a device that allows drivers to pay parking meters from the comfort of their car. “I always use a lot of coins, and sometimes I don’t always carry my debit card with me,” explained Robert Cox, who works downtown. “But if I were to get this, it would actually make it easier.” EasyPark is an outside company that’s providing the service to the city. Drivers would be able to leave the coins and credit cards behind and transfer money onto a little yellow device that parking enforcement can see. People have to first sign up and buy a device, but the company will ship it with $10 already on it as a beginning balance. How does it work? 1. Drivers will first select the city they’re in. 2. Choose the proper parking “zone,” which is located at parking stations. 3. Then hang it on the window closest to the curb. “It’s a little more convenient for folks than getting out of your car in 100-degree weather, walking over to the pay station, to get a receipt. And it’s also green,” said Steve Grassfield, the parking enterprise manager with the city. There is a price tag for this convenience, including a monthly membership fee which would include support and battery replacements. What it costs.
In another signal of how drought has made clearer the pressures on resources in Central Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority has been forced to release water from the Highland Lakes to maintain the spawning habitat of a threatened fish. The blue sucker, a muscular, heavy-bodied, bottom-oriented fish named for its downward-pointed, sucker-like, slurping mouth, and known to grow as long as 32 inches, spawns each spring between Eagle Lake and Bastrop in gravel-bottomed areas of the Colorado River. Normally, rainfall downstream of Austin satisfies the spawning needs of the blue sucker, a species listed as threatened by the state of Texas. But the ongoing drought has upended normal conditions. In keeping with water management plans in place since at least 1992, the LCRA could release upwards of 20,000 acre-feet of water over the next four weeks or so to maintain a high enough river flow in the spawning region for the fish. That
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