2009 Groundwater News

December 19, 2009

Growth vs future water supply

Months of behind-the-scenes work paid off Monday night with a quiet public hearing and unanimous approval of a revised management plan for the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District. The plan deals with numerous hot-button issues, including predictions of managed available groundwater, projected total water supply in Kendall County and groundwater management policies. Read full Boerne Star article here.

December 1, 2009

TCEQ Establishes Office of Water

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has announced formation of a new Office of Water, effective Dec. 1. The new office will encompass the three existing major water divisions in the agency: Water Planning, Water Supply, and Water Quality. “The new office is in recognition of the fact that the state’s population is expected to double in the next 30 years,” said Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D. “So the agency must put even more focus on water issues to ensure that there will be adequate water quality and quantity for future demand.” Read full media release here.

November 19, 2009

LCRA reopens the tap as drought wanes

In another signal of how much the Central Texas drought has eased, the Lower Colorado River Authority on Wednesday released customers from mandatory watering restrictions in place since August. Read full Statesman.com article here.

November 18, 2009

LCRA Board Approves Drought Measures – Turns focus to planning for future

At its meetingWednesday, Nov. 18, the LCRA Board approved drought measures aimed at managing the ongoing Colorado River Basin Drought. The Board’s approval followed weeks of expert staff analysis, public input from customers and stakeholders and deliberation among Board members. Read full media release here.

November 17, 2009

Balancing water needs of aquifer’s many users

Water restrictions put in place during this year’s drought are nothing compared with those of the future if management of the Edwards Aquifer is not changed, scientists say in a new report. Read full San Antonio Express – News article here.

November 6, 2009

TWDB hears latest round in regional water spat

Another round in a battle between Hill Country water planners was fought in Kerrville Monday at a Texas Water Development Board hearing. The conflict centers on a decision about “desired future conditions” made on Aug. 29, 2008, by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9, which is made up of one representative from each of the groundwater districts in Kendall, Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Travis and northern Bexar counties. Read full Boerne Star article here.

October 13, 2009

Water limits fuel debate

A swirl of debate overwhelmed the Oct. 9 quarterly meeting of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. After nearly two hours of give-and-take during the public comment part of the meeting, directors spent another two hours arguing over just the first of two dozen action items on the agenda. The topic of production limits on permitted wells, proposed in the district’s new rules, drew the most attention – Read full Bandera Bulletin article here.

October 12, 2009

TCEQ Wastewater Quality Limits Are Too Lax

Protect Lake Travis Association continues to educate residents regarding the immediate threat of sewage effluent being discharged into Lake Travis and upstream. Comments are due October 30th. This is the time to speak up and contact your local elected officials. Read more here.

October 6, 2009

Two vulnerable areas in the Texas Hill Country could finally benefit from groundwater management planning

TCEQ staff is recommending that the western Comal County territory be added to the Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District and the southwestern Travis County territory be added to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. All written comments must be received by November 12th, 2009. Read more here.

October 3, 2009

Sanchez: Water shortage flush with cause for major concern

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a personal visit is priceless. Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan store and supply drinking water for many Central Texans and are only 39 percent full. A pessimist would say the glass is 61 percent empty. Read full Statesman.com commentary here.

October 1, 2009

TCEQ ignores stakeholder’s recommendations for Edwards Aquifer rule on Direct Discharge Permits

Imagine the Hill Country stream near you with a wastewater treatment plant dumping treated effluent into it. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality identified a stakeholders committee to review and comment on wastewater discharge rules for the Barton and Onion Creek watersheds of the Edwards Aquifer. This came after the much debated Belterra permit application which was granted in spite of multi-jurisdiction united opposition. The stakeholder’s committee says don’t do it, but TCEQ seems to be moving ahead with a proposed new rule to make direct discharge permits in this fragile region okay. Read more here.

September 11, 2009

Aquifer District Adopts Additional Rules to Protect Groundwater

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has changed its rules to manage more equitably its groundwater resources and to respond more effectively to severe and prolonged droughts. At its Board meeting last night, the District’s Board of Directors approved a sweeping set of rule changes to accomplish those objectives. Read full media release here.

August 20, 2009

An argument for the TCEQ ‘no-discharge’ rule

There is nothing like a long, serious drought to make us really appreciate the wonderful asset that is Lake Travis. And while we all worry about when the rains and water will return, there is one thing we have not had to worry about in a very long time – the threat of pollution in the form of sewage effluent discharged into Lake Travis and upstream. Read full North Lake Travis Log Op-ed here.

August 23, 2009

Our Water Supply, Down the Drain

In the United States, we constantly fret about running out of oil. But we should be paying more attention to another limited natural resource: water. A water crisis is threatening many parts of the country — not just the arid West. Read full article here.

August 17, 2009

Cities petition to release treated wastewater in river watershed

Cities up and down the Colorado River, including Marble Falls, are being asked to join in a petition to change rules that have stood for a decade against releasing discharge from wastewater treatment plants into the watershed. Read full Highlander article here.

August 8, 2009

Austin water treatment plant debate

City Council keeps treatment facility on pace for spring construction as some members begin to question need, cost. Read the full Statesman article here. A special meeting has been called for September 17th to debate this issue before a definitive vote in October. Previous news on this issue here.

June 30, 2009

Where the first raindrop falls

John Graves said it best in Texas Rivers: “The loss of our primeval forests and prairies, the extinction or increasing rarity of many species of living things, the disruption of our waters’ flow and their pollution — all these evils and more … are the price we have paid for progress and prosperity and our nation’s power, for getting to the point we have reached today.” What point have we reached? Gunnar Brune’s Springs of Texas (1973) gives a clue. “Texas originally had 281 major and historically significant springs, other than saline springs. Sixty-three springs, many with important historical backgrounds, have completely failed.” – Read full TPWD article here.

June 13, 2009

Breakdown of LCRA-San Antonio water deal has rippling implications

When the San Antonio Water System accused the Lower Colorado River Authority in May of reneging on a huge water deal, more than money was at stake. The potential $2.2 billion water-sharing project ran aground after the river authority said it might not have enough water to meet the needs in its basin area while also shipping water to San Antonio. Read full article here.

June 11, 2009

Water users express concerns about groundwater supplies during drought

Groundwater users in the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District expressed concerns about groundwater supplies holding up if the current Critical Stage drought worsens. The District held town two hall meetings on June 2 and June 8 in Sunset Valley and Buda to review and get feedback on proposed rule changes that would better prepare the District to regulate and conserve groundwater resources during extreme drought. Read full releasehere.

June 8, 2009

The Back Porch – Water and wildlife in the marketplace

Texas contains nearly 200,000 miles of streams and rivers. Thirteen of the state’s 15 rivers flow through metropolitan areas supply-ing water for more than 22 million people. Twenty percent of those people depend on a single river: the Trinity. To supply water for people while balancing the needs for wildlife, positive things must happen on the landscape — 95 percent of which is in private hands. – Read full TPWD article here.

June 4, 2009

$182M bond sale approved for pipeline project

Last Thursday, May 21, was a banner day for those who support the construction of the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority tri-city water infrastructure project – those opposing the project weren’t quite so happy. In a hearing in Austin, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the sale of $182 million in bonds to fund Phase 1A of the project, which will include a pipeline along Trails End Road in Cedar Park and a water treatment plant with 17 million gallons per day capacity. See full Hill Country News article here.

May 27, 2009

Assault on water plan

Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District vice president Wayne Brown, a leading critic of the CTGCD’s proposed regulations, told a Burnet County water issues meeting Friday that the district’s attorney made regulations more confusing after two public hearings in the past year criticized the rules as too long and too complicated. See full Highlander article here.

April 29, 2009

Hearing set for Llano River sand and gravel application

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is being asked to permit the mining of sand and gravel along a nearly one-mile stretch of streambed in the Llano River. Kingsland businessmen Joe Long and Mark Stephenson have petitioned TPWD to annually remove or disturb 240,000 cubic yards from an island in the middle of the river, approximately three miles above the Kingsland Slab. Under state law, the TPWD manages, controls, and protects sand and gravel extraction in navigable rivers of the State. In deciding whether to grant or deny the permit, the agency must consider the project’s impact on fish and wildlife habitat, navigation, and in some cases, recreational activity. Read full article here.

April 22, 2009

Council Okays Sale Of Water — For Now

Following a lengthy discussion at Monday night’s meeting, the Fredericksburg City Council agreed to supply local golf resort Boot Ranch with ground water for its golf course from a nearby well until an effluent line can be completed from the city’s waste water treatment plant. The motion to supply water to the golfing community located near RM 965, passed by a 4-1 margin, with councilman Tom Musselman casting the only dissenting vote. The new plan, which comes at the request of Boot Ranch, calls for the city to sell a maximum 40.5 million gallons of water until an Aug. 1 cut-off date. By then, it’s believed that the golf facility will have completed the effluent pipe project and have the pump stations on-line. Read full Fredericksburg Standard articlehere.

April 14, 2009

Texas Groundwater Management: Change urgently needed

Surface water in Texas belongs to the state. It can only be used with the state’s permission. The management of groundwater is another rather complicated, even strange story, considering how critical and urgent groundwater conservation is for Texas. Action by this legislative session to move toward more effective groundwater management is ongoing. Read the full article here.

Some bills strengthen, some weaken Groundwater Conservation Districts

Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD) are local units of government authorized by the state legislature and ratified at the local level to manage and protect groundwater. Ninety-seven GCDs have been created in the state. The total includes 93 established (confirmed) districts and four unconfirmed districts. The 93 established districts cover all or part of 145 of the state’s 254 counties. This leaves about half of Texas subject to the rule of capture. Read the full article here.

February 5, 2009

Groundwater use at resort leads to public outcry in Bandera County

“Flying L Public Utility District’s (PUD) 256 customers have been under Stage 3 water restrictions since July 2008, when both wells supplying homeowners with water had dropped to 345 feet,” writes Stephanie Parker for the Bandera County Courier. “Stage 3 restrictions means that outdoor watering is restricted and households are limited to 15,000 gallons of water per billing period. In July, Flying L PUD President Bob Dawson said that 97 percent of PUD customers complied and used less than the allotted 15,000 gallons.” Read the full Courier story here.

January 21, 2009

Preserve Our Water reports ‘exceptional’ drought in Blanco County

In their most recent water news alert, Preserve Our Water has released a story on the severity of the drought in Blanco County, an update on the GMA 9 Desired Future Conditions debate, a Texas Legislature preview and a review of drought conditions in the news. Read these stories and more here.

BSEACD releases Aquifer Bulletin for January – April 2009

According to the Barton Springs/ Edwards Aquifer Conservation District: “The District’s Board of Directors declared Critical Stage Drought for the District area on December 11, 2008, and both drought indices, Barton Springs and the Lovelady Well, remain below their respective Critical thresholds (Figure 1). This is only the second time in the District’s 21-year history that a declaration of this severity has been issued, and comes six months after the Board declared Alarm Stage Drought on June 23, 2008.” Read this full story and the rest of the bulletin here.

January 19, 2009

Rep. Leibowitz Files Bill to Prohibit Discharge of Treated Sewage Effluent into Edwards Aquifer Waterways

From the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance: “State Representative David McQuade Leibowitz (District 117) late Tuesday filed a bill that many believe is much needed to protect the quality of water in the Edwards Aquifer. H.B. 595 states ‘The commission (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality-TCEQ) may not issue a new permit authorizing the discharge of sewage effluent directly into any water in the contributing or recharge zone of the San Antonio or Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.'” Read the full release here.