By MICHELLE GARCIA SAN ANTONIO — In the midst of a massive drought, the City of Austin is working on an ambitious water pipe.

    Austin Water System CEO Bob Friese said the city is exploring two water pipe designs that will allow the city to use cheap and plentiful water at the same time.

    “I think it’s very important to be able to use that water supply to do things like make the plumbing work better,” Frieses said.

    The water pipe will be a low-cost solution that can be retrofitted to other Austin homes, Friesed said.

    “We want to be sure that when we retrofit it to other homes, it will be cost-effective.”

    The City of Los Angeles announced Monday it will use a similar water pipe design, although this time it will cost $20 million to retrofit the system.

    While Austin’s pipe will not be as expensive, the city said it will not have the same flexibility to retrofits that Los Angeles has with its existing water system.

    Friese described the pipe as a “high-quality water pipe that will be used in conjunction with other city resources and infrastructure to meet water supply needs.”

    “If it’s not working, we don’t want to waste water,” he said.

    Friedes said the new pipe will also provide Austin with access to natural gas, which is scarce in the city.

    The city is also considering a plan to import some of the water used in the new pipes from other cities, such as New York City.

    Frieses also said he is working with the city on a water-efficiency plan that will see Austin use less water for the same amount of water produced.

    “We’re going to get the lowest cost solution that we can,” he explained.

    As part of the effort, Austin will be installing water meters at a variety of different locations to determine the city’s usage of water.

    According to the city, the meters will record how much water is being used each day and will also monitor Austin’s ability to maintain a water supply.

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