Urban growth in Central Texas : soils and single-family home development



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This study investigates the potential impacts on soils from development practices associated with new single-family residential home construction in the extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of Pflugerville, Texas. My research question is: Are regulations that directly focus on soil conservation advisable within Pflugerville’s ETJ, and what areas of development ought to be primarily targeted by these regulations in order to better ensure the long-term stability of soil health and the minimization of soil loss? The rationale for this question is based on the city’s projected future population growth, the projected future demand for single-family residences, as well as the development and management practices typically associated with new single-family residential development in the ETJ of Pflugerville. I hypothesize that due to Pflugerville’s proximity to Austin and Round Rock, in addition to the relative abundance of available land to the east of the city of Pflugerville, that it is likely to continue experiencing sustained population and residential development growth, particularly in the form of new single-family residences in the ETJ. A population projection was conducted up to the year 2030, which in conjunction with average persons-per-household and single-family home permitting data, estimates potential consumer demand for single-family residences. The imperative to prevent soil loss is conceptually linked to ecosystem service benefits resulting from healthy and intact soils, such as improved water quality and the regulation of peak flow rates during storm events. Single-family residential development is evaluated in terms of conventional on-the-ground construction practices gathered from interviews with developers of single-family homes in the Pflugerville ETJ, as well as planning and regulatory specialists. These analyses are intended to inform regulatory and decision making processes regarding the importance and potential integration of soil preservation and conservation at the individual construction site level.