A City Council committee this afternoon will get an update from the city’s Water Department about the steps it has taken to require large new developments to offset their increased demand for water.

The Water Department is requiring Westfield, the developers of the $900 million University Towne Center mall expansion, to keep the project’s water demand neutral, a step that will require the developer to save between 21 million and 43 million gallons of water annually.

One paragraph in our May story about the issue caught the eye of City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who scheduled today’s discussion:

For now, the policy is informal, hasn’t received City Council support and has no violation penalty.

Jim Barrett, the city’s public utilities director, said in May that he believes offsets are a way to address a state law requiring an assessment of large developments’ water supplies. The 6-year-old law, designed to ensure that supplies keep pace with growth, mandates that cities provide what is termed a “water supply assessment” for large developments. The assessment must verify the city has a sufficient supply planned to accommodate the growth.

The council’s Natural Resources and Culture committee meets today at 2 p.m. in City Hall’s 12th floor committee room.

ROB DAVIS

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