Conservation districts are working together to manage shared aquifers through Groundwater Management Areas (GMAs). Most of the Hill Country falls in GMA 9. A process is under way to establish “desired future conditions” as mandated by the state. These goals will be used in setting water management plans for groundwater conservation districts. The bulk of the Hill Country has been designated a “Priority Groundwater Management Area,” or PGMA, because it is expected to encounter critical shortages in the near future.
More news and resources about Hill Country groundwater resources here. The deadline for GMA 9 to deliver DFC Desired Future Conditions goals to the Texas Water Development board is September 1st, 2010.
The next meeting of GMA 9 will be held July 26th in Boerne. The meeting will take place at 10:00 am the Boerne High School Auditorium located at 1 Greyhound Lane. Download a copy of the agenda.
Groundwater Management Area 9 (click on map to enlarge)
The Texas Hill Country region held three public meetings in June to discuss the draft DFC (Desired Future Condition).
In recent weeks, groundwater specialists and citizens have been submitting comments to help guide the GMA 9 DFC process. Decisions being made now will affect the future of our drinking water supply, spring flow, the health of our creeks, rivers and streams and the life and economy of the Hill County for future generations. We will continue to gather and monitor public comment here.
As HCA Advisor David K. Langford tells us often, “The future belongs to those who show up.”
Written comments can be sent to: Ronald G. Fiesler email@example.com PO Box 1516 Johnson City, TX 78636 FAX 830.868.0376
“GMA-9 plays a critical role in determining the future of the Texas Hill Country. "DESIRED FUTURE CONDITIONS" is a phrase that participates in a kind of vision we have for this region, this place where we live and which we care for. The presence of clear flowing water in our streams is critical to both land values and our quality of life.” Jack Hollon, former Hays-Trinity GCD Board Member, current president of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.
The full text of Jack Hollon’s comments which call for no additional drawdown of the aquifer here.
“In its October report to Governor Perry, the Drought Preparedness Council provided the widespread impact of low groundwater levels in the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer system and its river basins. “Medina and Canyon Lakes reported new record low levels and Lake Travis remained at its third lowest level on record. Victoria saw enough improvement in reservoir levels to drop Stage 2 watering restrictions. However, the Edwards Aquifer remained low, causing San Antonio to remain in Stage 2 restrictions, while Kerrville continued Stage 3 restrictions.” As it is the springs of the Edwards Group of the Edwards-Trinity Plateau Aquifer that feed the headwaters of the Medina and Guadalupe Rivers, this serves well to illustrate their relevance in Edwards-Trinity Aquifer system. “ Milan J. Michalec Director, Precinct 2, Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District
“Nobody's well nowhere in Bandera County will see a rise in level because of increased pumping. Nobody's spring nowhere in Bandera County will see an increase in flow because of increased pumping.
How much your well level goes down due to increased pumping varies considerably depending on where you live. Thus it is very misleading to talk about "average" aquifer drawdown. The "average" comes from summing up areas which will see little drawdown with areas that will see drawdown several times the "average." Count on this. Everybody's well level will go down, at least some, with increased pumping. It's only a question of how much. If you had well problems during last year's drought, then your problems will only be worse when the next drought comes around.
The story on springs is similar. Whether your spring will see reduced flow or even dry up due to increased pumping depends very much on where you live. Count on this. The spring that ran when you were a child and has now dried up is not coming back.” Lee Kneupper, Bandera, Texas
“I challenge your assertion that DFC’s can only apply to an aquifer. In Hays County the karstic geology, climatology, and topography connect surface and groundwater uniquely and inseparably so that a failing aquifer is readily apparent in diminished spring and stream flows. The public can IMMEDIATELY SEE THE FAILURE OF OVERPUMPED AQUIFERS as springs and streams dry up while falling water well levels remain hidden underground and out of sight and mind until it is too late.” David Glenn, P.G. 5525, Wimberley, Texas “WATER is the elixir that makes the Hill Country magic”
"This process is supposed to be about agreeing on a "Desired Future Condition" (DFC) for the aquifer. To a great extent the process has devolved into one of adopting the perceived "Inevitable Future Condition" (IFC) based merely on population growth projections, expected demand and estimates of a regional water budget model. This was not the intent of the law but working through and publicizing the IFC may be all that is politically achievable at this time. The intent of the process was for the stakeholders to make a conscious decision about the future conditions of the aquifer not to merely make a decision just to accommodate growth projections to avoid making tough decisions." Andrew Backus, former director HTGCD
“There is special concern about the potential impact of the DFC selected at your meeting on Jacobs Well and Cypress Creek causing irreparable economic and environmental damage to the Wimberley Valley, Hays County Texas”.
Summary of Comments
A summary of written public comments.
The TWDB rules specify that the board presidents of the GCDs comprising the GMA are those who have a vote. The drill for GMA-9 has been and is for the GCD board presidents to be instructed by their respective boards on how to vote. A two thirds vote is required to approve a DFC.
GMA-9 has a "coordinator," Ron Fieseler who is general manager of Blanco-Pedernales GCD. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He has presided at the GMA-9 meetings.
Here are the likely voters for GMA-9
- Jim Chastain, Board President Bandera RA&GCD (email address restricted at his request)
- Neill Benford, Board President Blanco Pedernales GCD email@example.com
- Brad Groves, Board President Trinity Glen Rose GCD BRAD.GROVES@ttisg.com or George Wissmann firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tommy Boehm, Board President Medina County GCD or Luana Buckner email@example.com
- Jimmy Skipton, Board President Hays Trinity GCD firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tommy Mathews, Board President Cow Creek GCD email@example.com
- Somebody from EAA. Probably EAA Board President Luana Buckner firstname.lastname@example.org
- Diane McMahon, President Headwaters GCD email@example.com
Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More
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"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More
Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.
How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.
“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.
The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More
It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.
HCA’s March 20th Texas Water Symposium generated a crowd of more than 150 to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Pedernales River watershed. Landowners, state and local officials and non-profit representatives gathered to explore these issues and the steps being taken to solve them. Learn more from the Fredericksburg Standard. An hour-long version of the event will be aired on Texas Public Radio in select regions Sunday, April 6th at 8pm - Details
Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days. But just moving money around doesn’t create water. That’s why what’s happening now at the state’s Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is so important. Read more from Ken Kramer at TexasLivingWaters.org.
Stay informed about your local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) creates a monthly bulletin full of helpful water conservation information and news. Read the latest edition here. Do you know your local GCD? Do you have a local GCD? If you are unsure, contact HCA and we’ll help you learn.
While we continue to reduce our water use, demands increase every day with new homes of suburbia appearing on the horizon. Each will require more water, with a considerable amount going to establish and maintain hundreds of acres of new turf grass each year. In this region, traditional home lawns typically consume 25 to 35% of the annual treated water. Projecting into the future, new residential yards could require up to 30,000 acre-feet per year by 2040—enough water to meet about 20 percent of Austin’s current demand. Read More
The Texas Wildlife Association provides Distance Learning programs to bring education about our natural world into the classroom via videoconferencing. Discover resources HCA has assembled to help parents and teachers inspire our next generations to be thoughtful stewards of the Hill Country here.
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Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. The four-day workshop will be held April 28-29 and May 5-6. Register now, class size limited. Details
“Intermittent and ephemeral streams provide critical fish habitat out West. They account for 94 percent of Arizona’s streams, according to the EPA, and 88 percent of those in New Mexico.” The same holds true here in the Hill Country as these tributaries feed the Llano, Pedernales, Blanco, Guadalupe and Nueces Rivers. “These streams provide the flow for larger rivers and spawning and rearing habitat for young fish and insects; they also help to determine the quality of downstream habitat for fish.” Read more from the Washington Post.
Today Texans are more aware than ever of the importance of groundwater. As part of ongoing efforts to synthesize and communicate water-related data to scientists, policy makers and the public, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) recently announced its Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data. Learn More
The Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is currently seeking public input for projects including new roads in the long-ranch plan. Learn more about transportation planning taking place in Burnett, Travis and Hays counties and attend an open house near you.
Scenic America has just released a handy 4-page reference guide to basic facts and figures about billboards. Download the PDF here. Learn more about scenic issues and billboard in the Hill Country here.
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Meet Dr. Katherine Lieberknecht. She is a professor in the University of Texas School of Architecture who proposes the revolutionary idea that stormwater runoff can – and should – be managed as a water resource, rather than as nuisance to be drained “away as “efficiently” as practical. Read more from Waterblogue.
Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure - water. Read more from the New York Times.
The Hill Country Alliance has set an April 30 deadline for local schools to apply for grants of up to $1,000 to develop or continue water catchment and conservation programs. The auction of “art barrels” during the Alliance’s annual Rainwater Revival, held in November, funds the grants. Learn more...
Last month, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club praised staff at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for recommending to their Board that the focus of future water supplies for the city should rest on nearby brackish groundwater, rather than the importation of fresh groundwater from locations distant of the city. Unfortunately, the SAWS Board, sensing pressure from the business community, has backpedaled against that recommendation to reject all three of the groundwater proposals. Read more from the Texas Living Waters Project.
Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.
The San Antonio Water System board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund Phase I construction of a brackish water desalination plant in southern Bexar County – the most ambitious water diversification project in the city’s history – and enter negotiations with the Vista Ridge Consortium to provide San Antonio with an even greater supply of new water via a privately-owned regional pipeline, a second diversification project of unprecedented scope and cost. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region. Join us Friday, April 25th for a day of learning at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. Click here to learn more and register online.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Preservation Texas, Most Endangered Place list. Some wonderful places in the Hill Country already grace this list including the Spettel Riverside House in Bandera County, The Old Llano County Jail, Hamilton Pool, Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor and statewide, Texas Dance Halls! The deadline is fast approaching, March 21st, take it upon yourself to nominate an iconic Hill Country treasure. Learn More
April 16 in Canyon Lake - Billboards in Comal County: TxDOT will present findings from a recent inventory of billboards in Comal County - Presented by the League of Women Voters, Comal Area - Details
April 17 in Austin - TWDB will hold two Board meetings to discuss innovative water solutions for Texas and financial assistance for water projects - The public and interested stakeholders encouraged to attend and provide public comment - Details
April 19 in Boerne - Streamside Management: Restoring and Maintaining Riparian Areas - Details
April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events
April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details
April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details
April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details
May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details
May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details
May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details
May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details
May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details
May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details
May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details
May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details
Photo contest begins March 1st!
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool