2012 Water Planning News

December 17, 2012

Behind the scary water headlines

It’s hard to look at any media in Texas today without being confronted by a dire outlook on the state’s water future. The jarring effects of a deep drought and the steep price tag attached to the state’s water plan definitely make for attention-grabbing copy. But for those who care about sustainable management of our limited water resources, property rights and fiscal discipline in the state budget, it’s worth a look behind those headlines. More from Statesman.com

Meeting Texas’ water needs

Local and regional water suppliers say that state financial assistance is needed to fund about half of the total $53 billion price tag for water infrastructure projects in the current State Water Plan. However, simply providing funding without improving the plan and carefully prioritizing projects to be funded would not be an efficient use of taxpayer funds. More from Caller.com.

December 3, 2012

You & the State water Plan – Water For Texas 2012

Milan Michalec, incoming President of the HCA Board of Directors, takes a look at water issues ahead of the 2013 legislative session. “Ground and surface water supplies originate with the rain that falls on the land and in turn, this water is captured by complex, large-scale ecological processes involving many variables, including plants, animals, soils and geology. We are every bit an integral part of the water cycle.” Read the four-part series which will also be published in the Bandera County Courier beginning Thursday, December 6th.

How many drops does Medina Lake have left?

With the lake now below 11 percent of its estimated storage capacity, each exposed post and trunk raise the threat that local residents will run out of water, farmers will have to let land go fallow and San Antonio will lose part of its water supply. More from SA Express-News.

November 13, 2012

H2O4Texas Founder Discusses Water Shortages, Water Plan

Joey Park is the founding member of H2O4Texas. He told listeners at the South Texans’ Property Rights Association annual meeting that Texas has a water plan, though many people don’t know about it. “That brings us to a problem. That’s all it’s been: a book on the shelf for the last 10 years. We have not done anything about it except refer to it as our State Water Plan.” It is a serious document, though, with a list of things that need to be done, can be done and will be done to address the water needs of the state. It is missing a couple of things, namely funding. Read full Livestock Weekly article.

October 24, 2012

Why Texas Rice Farmers May Get Water Next Year

Once again, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is coming under fire from some Central Texans. The reason? A recommendation by agency staff that could lead to water being sent downstream next year for rice farming. Read more from State Impact.

October 22, 2012

LCRA staff recommends against cutting off rice farmers for second year

In the most recent signal that drought conditions have eased since 2011, the staff of the Lower Colorado River Authority recommended last week that board members not seek emergency power from the state to cut off water next year for rice farmers. That’s a reversal from September 2011, when the LCRA’s board approved an emergency plan to cut off water to rice farmers if less than 850,000 acre-feet of water was stored in lakes Travis and Buchanan, the LCRA’s two main reservoirs, on March 1 of this year. More from Statesman.com.

October 15, 2012

SAWS told to better manage its water

“We need to be very careful in not misleading the people that we can build our way out of this problem,” he said, noting the loss of agriculture and undeveloped land is a direct threat to water quality and that no amount of reservoirs or pipelines could replace the water needed if Texas loses the natural systems it is dependent on. Read more from SA Express-News.

September 10, 2012

Relaxed rules on watering proposed

The San Antonio Water System is considering loosening watering restrictions that should make drought-weary residents happy, allowing them, for example, to wash their cars at home on Saturdays. Read full SA Express-News article.

New Braunfels water use surges

New Braunfels Utilities reported a surge in water use this week after experiencing a dramatic drop the week before when the utility banned the use of sprinklers and irrigation systems. Average daily water consumption by its 25,000 customers dipped to about 11 million gallons last week during the first-ever implementation of Stage 3 restrictions, said NBU spokeswoman Gretchen Reuwer. Read more from SA Express-News.

Arguments are heard in Bulverde water-rate case

The Coalition for Equitable Water Rates (CEWR), a ratepayers’ group fighting a proposed 71 percent water-rate hike, said in a press release that it presented arguments recently in a formal hearing of its rate case against Canyon Lake Water Service Co. (CLWSC). Read more from Herald-Zeitung Online.

September 6, 2012

Running the Rivers

Carrying water so precious it has been called liquid gold, the 23 major rivers in Texas flow past pastures and cities, factories and suburbs. These waters have endured the wettest and driest of years, but experts say the rivers’ biggest stresses now come from the multitude of demands from industries, municipalities, agriculture, environment and wildlife. Learn More

September 1, 2012

Texas lake levels down to 68% of total monitored capacity level

Texas Lake Levels around the state are alarming. Check out this telling graphic. Link to more water related information at http://WatrNews.com. See a snapshot of lake levels around the state. Good material within the rest of website as well.

August 27, 2012

Colorado River Basin public comments

Because different parts of Texas have unique water needs and challenges, the Legislature has parceled the state into manageable areas. Region K is one of 16 regional water planning groups created to craft policy at a local level. If you live in the Colorado River Basin, your region is K. Region K is now taking public input regarding non-municipal water demands for long-term future planning. Show Austin that you are paying attention. Learn more and voice your opinion.

August 14, 2012

Water Is Life

As stewards of more than 95 percent of the landscape in Texas, private landowners do have a huge role to play in our water future, and they are not getting much help. Texas loses rural and agricultural land faster than any other state, and this continued fragmentation of family lands is irrevocably impairing the function of our watersheds and aquifer recharge zones, as well as increasing nonpoint source pollution, which is runoff from agricultural fields, highways, parking lots and an increasingly paved-over countryside. Read full article by Andrew Sansom.

August 8, 2012

It’s All the Same Water

Texas is the only Western state where rule of capture is law. That may work well for property owners wanting to sell their groundwater, or sell their mineral rights, but not so great for most of the rest of the population that relies on water as a life source. Read full article by Joe Nick Patoski.

July 16, 2012

2012 Texas Water Plan identifies Hill Country water shortages

The 2012 Texas Water Plan produced by the Texas Water Development Board reports that water supplies for the Hill Country are insufficient to meet projected municipal (urban and rural) water demands during the next severe drought. The report identifies 60 Hill Country municipal water suppliers (i.e. city utilities and water districts) that will have water shortages. For many of the suppliers, the water demands are substantially greater than the supplies.View Presentation by Raymond Slade, HCA Advisory Board and Technical Team member.

Farmers, residents debate priorities for lakes

More than miles separate the rice farms of the Texas coast and the Highland Lakes, where the outward march of Austin is marked by each new house, strip mall and marina. They are divided by how to share the water of the Colorado River, pitting agriculture against recreation in a state that values both.Read more from SA Express-News.

July 10, 2012

Land Commissioner exploring desalination on State Land in Hays and Comal Counties

“The goal would be to provide water to a portion of Hays County where the General Land Office owns at least 4,500 acres. Bringing water to that land would make the property more valuable, increasing any asking price the land office sets for it,” Patterson said. Read full Statesman article here. “But isn’t desalination expensive and energy-intensive?” Learn more from StateImpact Texas.

July 2, 2012

Is Water the World’s Next Global Security Threat?

On day five of the Aspen Ideas Festival, leading thinkers on water issues gathered on a panel to discuss the question, “Is Water the Next Global Security Threat?” “The key will be harnessing the political will to fix the problems and iniquities in our distribution system”. Read More

June 14, 2012

A little rain doesn’t solve water problem

After the drought of record in the 1950s, the state responded by building a record number of new water projects. In fact, 65 percent of the reservoir capacity statewide was built between the 1960s and 1980s. As the fears of drought subsided, development of these projects also waned. Now, the Texas population is 25 million versus 8 million in the 1950s. Our industrial base is four times larger. The self-imposed moratorium on addressing our water demands needs to end. Read more from SA Express News.

June 12, 2012

Texas Gets Creative With Recycling Water

Reclaimed water “is a way to stretch our existing supplies and potentially avoid expensive infrastructure projects,” said Myron Hess, the manager of the Texas water program for the National Wildlife Federation. Putting potable water on grass is especially wasteful, environmentalists say. Read more from Texas Tribune.

May 9, 2012

Water Rights – Who Makes the Decisions?

“We not only have to consider the main Guadalupe River flowing from western Kerr Co. to the Gulf, but the Medina, San Antonio, Blanco, Comal and San Marcos Rivers to deal with all water uses and flows. And, these rivers are all spring flow originated which ties river flows directly into groundwater use in the headwaters region.” Mike Mecke explains his disappointment in TCEQ proposal that doesn’t follow stakeholder recommendations. Read the full articlehere.

May 1, 2012

Will Our Rivers Flow to the Gulf? Speak up by May 14th

A Texas process is in place to make collaborative regional decisions about the health of our water systems – in order to work, citizens must be involved. The San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) is one of the best regional examples of organized citizen activism. Proposed TCEQ management rules for the San Marcos River, (also the Colorado, Lavaca, San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers) do not reflect the conservative and balanced goals set forth by stakeholders. TCEQ is proposing more business as usual permitting and withdrawals. People must speak up by May 14th. Learn More

April 26, 2012

TCEQ plan is a corruption of legislative order

The conservation community is reeling with outrage and disbelief over the unreasonable rejection of reasonable recommendations aimed at balancing the needs of man and nature with rational protections for river flow. Read more from Caller.com.

April 18, 2012

Proposed Rules Fail to Protect Central Texas Rivers and Bays

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) proposed a rule on Friday, April 13th that will determine the amount of water that must remain flowing in Central and South Central Texas rivers and into the region’s bays to sustain fish and wildlife populations. Unfortunately, this rule fails to include many of the protections recommended by the region’s stakeholder committees, leaving fish, oysters, whooping cranes and other wildlife high and dry. However, the good news is that there is still time to improve the rule by voicing support for stronger flow protections to the TCEQ Commissioners during the public comment period, which runs from now until May 14, 2012. Learn more from NWF.

April 13, 2012

TCEQ, stakeholders disagree on water

The amount of water that should be left in the San Antonio, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins to maintain their health and the bays they feed will be based on proposed rules published Thursday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Texas Register. For the two legislatively appointed stakeholder groups that spent the past year and half working on compromises between the science-based environmental needs of the basins and the growing demand for water, the proposed rules are a disappointment, leaving less water in the rivers than they recommended, according to the chairs of the groups. The TCEQ representatives explained that they did not follow the recommendations of the stakeholders, which represented industrial, recreational, environmental and business interests, because they had balanced the needs of humans and nature. Read full SA Express-News article.

April 4, 2012

Central Texas Water Coalition updates and April 26th meeting announcement

CTWC March Headlines: “No Lake Water for the Rice Fields”; “House Natural Resources Committee Explores Drought Options”; “46th TX Legislative Conference Looks at Drought and the TX Economy” “CTWC Sponsors Bass Fishing Tournament on the Highland Lakes April 21‐22”; and “Sen. Fraser to address the CTWC April 26 Meeting”. Read the full news blast here. More about the CTWC here.

March 30, 2012

International Water Expert to Highlight Sierra Club Water Conference, April 27

Brian Richter, an international authority on river conservation and the director of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Freshwater Program, will be the keynote speaker for a statewide water conference being held by the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in Austin on Friday, April 27. Read More

March 5, 2012

Taking a Deeper Look at the Texas Supreme Court’s Ruling on Water

Exactly how (the decision) will change the game is what everyone is trying to figure out. The case clearly established two things. First, that landowners legally own the groundwater underneath their land, and second, that landowners may be owed compensation if state or local regulations go too far in limiting the amount of groundwater landowners can pull. Beyond that things start to get a little murky. Read more from NPR.

March 3, 2012

Water cutoff to rice farmers typifies contentious issues confronting Texas

The Lower Colorado River Authority’s decision to deprive downstream rice farmers of water – for the first time ever – was an especially dramatic example of the historic Texas drought’s continuing impact, even as unexpected winter rains have mitigated its severity somewhat. Read more from Texas Climate News.

February 17, 2012

Vulnerable to climate disruption, Lubbock seeks a sustainable water supply

For decades, the city drew most of its water from Lake Meredith…But Lake Meredith has fallen to historically low levels. “This year, for the first time in 40 years, it’s gone.” Read more from Texas Climate News.

February 16, 2012

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Stresses Importance of Water Management for State’s Prosperity

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released today The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond – an analysis of the effects of the severe 2011 drought in Texas, current and future water resources in the state and innovative solutions being used in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest to solve the water crisis. “Planning and managing water use will be of utmost importance for the state’s growth and prosperity,” Combs said. “While recent rains have helped put a dent in drought severity in different parts of the state, we’re not out of the woods. Texas is prone to cycles of drought which makes it important for residents, businesses and state and local governments to manage water use. Every Texan has a stake in water issues the state faces.” Read the Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond online.

February 6, 2012

Do more soon to preserve our waters

It’s official. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the year 2011 was the driest on record. The average total rainfall across the state was 14.88 inches, beating the previous record low of 14.99 inches established in 1917. Now, more than ever, is the time for each of us to take an active role in water conservation in order to extend our existing water supplies. Without waiting for plans and finances or rains to catch up, there are ways to increase your water supply today. Read full Statesman.com commentary by HCA’s Milan Michalec.

February 4, 2012

Protecting water in Texas: a promise kept or broken?

Fifty years ago, Texas experienced the drought of record — which simply means the worst drought we had ever seen. Following that drought, big thinkers made big decisions. They invested in infrastructure to expand existing surface water supplies, cultivate unexplored groundwater supplies, and store and conserve more water. The investments of the 1950s have gotten us this far, but won’t carry us much further. Read more from Statesman.com.

February 1, 2012

Travis County passed new rules to protect water resources

After months of vetting by a diverse volunteer stakeholder committee made up of scientists, developer interests, landowners, residents and groundwater planning professionals Travis County Commissioners unanimously passed recommended new subdivision rules dealing with water use. “Already built or planned subdivisions and those with five or fewer lots that use surface water or have a rainwater collection system to back up groundwater would be exempt from the rules.” Read a brief from the Austin American Statesman that includes a link to the feature article from earlier this week here. Read Travis County staff summary to the Court here.

January 28, 2012

Rethinking water: Growing population, limited supply mean costs destined to rise, experts say

Is water too cheap? Perhaps the most obvious indication that it is, said Michael Webber, a University of Texas professor who heads a research group focused on water and energy, is how freely we use it. A growing population requires more water, which the state says can’t come from one source. Addressing the state’s water needs requires a range of solutions, most of which are expensive. Read more from Statesman.com.

January 24, 2012

LCRA wants public comment on proposed Water Management Plan

LCRA is taking public comment on the proposed revision to the Water Management Plan for lakes Travis and Buchanan. The plan is posted at LCRA.org. Comments can be submitted by email to wmp@lcra.org. The LCRA Board will consider the plan at its February 22 meeting. Comments are due February 9.Learn More

January 11, 2012

Develop water strategy to slake Texans’ thirst

The state’s population is expected to nearly double by 2060, from 25.4 million people to 46.3 million, according to the state water plan. New management strategies and supply projects are needed to meet the state’s residential, business and agricultural water needs. Failure to act could result in devastating business losses, lost jobs and reduced incomes, the state plan says; public health and economic development will suffer. More from Statesman.com.

January 10, 2012

Could water, power woes threaten state’s economy?

Dwindling supplies of water and electricity are imperiling the state’s economic future, a Texas Senate committee was told Tuesday. Read more from Statesman.com.

January 3, 2012

The 2012 State Water Plan was sent to the Governor on January 5, 2012

“The primary message of the 2012 State Water Plan is a simple one: In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises.” Learn more from TWDB. Read what Tom Mason, former LCRA General Manager has to say about the plan here.