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
Save Bracken Cave Reserve
What happens when you put 10,000 people next to more than ten million bats (and sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge land)? Bat Conservation International (BCI), GEAA and others are urging participation this Wednesday , May 29th in San Antonio. Learn more from BCI. You can also find extensive information about this issue from GEAA including how to contact your elected officials. We simply cannot afford to continue to make these kinds of mistakes in the Hill Country.
Master Naturalists Hill Country Chapter New Class begins August 19 Do you ever wonder what kind of moth or butterfly that caterpillar will become? And do ever think about why it’s eating that particular plant and not any other? If you’ve asked yourself either of the last two questions, perhaps you have an inner “naturalist” begging to explore and learn. The Texas Master Naturalist program can offer you the platform from which your exploration is endless. Learn More
Learn about summer gardening, water conservation during Rain Dance Festival at Herff Farm on June 1 Gardeners, nature enthusiasts and people who like to spend time out in their yards will have a chance to learn tips and techniques for sustainable gardens and landscapes and water conservation in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere during the Rain Dance Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at The Herff Farm at the Cibolo. Learn More
A water generation gap portends confrontation between Texas’ past, future
“If people understand how rich this state is in springs, and how those springs provide most of the flow for many of our rivers, then maybe they’ll pay more attention to how they’re depleting them...” Sharlene Leurig, Andy Sansom and David Langford, all friends of HCA’s, share stories in this thoughtful article about Hill Country water resources. A must read from Texas Climate News.
2013 Scholarship Contest Winners Announced
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has announced the winners of the Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship College Scholarship Essay Contest and its Aquatic Science Adventure Camp Scholarship program. Read More
Cibolo Nature Center & Farm announces 2013 Stewardship Award winners
“Six area conservationists were honored on Friday with the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm’s annual Stewardship Awards, recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to protecting the land, water and wildlife of the region.” Learn More
National Trails Day to be Celebrated on June 1
Celebrate the 21st annual National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1 by lacing up some sturdy shoes, grabbing a hiking stick and heading to a Texas State Park near you to join a guided hiking tour or hit the trails on your own. Learn More
Trifecta of drought, late freeze, hail decimate Hill Country peach crop
It’s peach season, but Austinites likely won’t be seeing any Fredericksburg peaches in grocery stores any time soon after a combination of freezing weather and hailstorms decimated more than 90 percent of the crop in Gillespie County. More from Statesman.com
Local Parks Matter!
“In these last frenzied weeks of the 83rd Texas Legislature, much remains in limbo - including funding for a relatively small program with an outsized effect on Texans' quality of life.” This story come from Houston, but the message certainly holds true here in the Hill Country.
Needmore Ranch MUD Approved with Amendments
Despite strong opposition from the citizens and elected officials of Wimberley and Hays County, the Texas House and Senate have approved the Needmore Ranch Municipal Utility District (MUD) #1 for approximately 4,020 acres of the 5,000-acre ranch just east of Wimberley. More from WVWA.
Central Texas Water Fight Could Have Statewide Implications
The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation district held a meeting May 15th to discuss whether to grant new permits to outside businesses. "I think the whole state will be watching this," Steve Box, with Environmental Stewardship, told StateImpact Texas ahead of the hearing. Learn more from StateImpact Texas.
Bringing back the Milky Way, May 14 in Uvalde
HCA has been partnering with the McDonald Observatory and local Hill Country community organization’s creating an entire menu of programs aimed at reducing light pollution. The next workshop will take place May 14 at the Cactus Room of the Uvalde Convention Center. Details
Petitions opposing Needmore Ranch MUD sent to Sen. Donna Campbell and State Rep. Jason Isaac
On May 6th the offices of State Senator Donna Campbell and State Representative Jason Isaac received packets containing 372 petitions signed by citizens opposed to bills these legislators have introduced to create a 4,000+ acre Municipal Utility District (MUD) on the Needmore Ranch, just east of Wimberley. Learn More
Texas Groundwater Levels Suffer Sharp Drop, Study Finds
According to the report, the greatest decline during 2010-11 occurred in the Trinity Aquifer of Central Texas, where 33 monitor wells showed a median drop of 16.7 feet, and an average drop of 19.7 feet. (The water board also includes one well in the Edwards-Trinity Plateau in that calculation.) More from the Texas Tribune.
Join GEAA at City Hall in San Antonio on May 22nd
In March, SAWS approved water and wastewater service to Crescent Hills, a development located entirely in Comal County on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. GEAA encourages SAWS ratepayers and those who don’t want to subsidize sprawl on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone to participate on May 22nd in urging the San Antonio City Council to rescind SAWS service to Crescent Hills. This property is adjacent to Braken Bat Cave, home to the world’s largest bat colony. Read more here.
Water for Cities vs. Ag - Is it theirs? Or ours?
Some more enlightened utilities and political leaders are beginning to realize that Texas must grow smart – not just fast. Texas county governments, long weak on any ability to properly manage and plan growth, are beginning to band together to get the attention of a largely urban Texas legislature. More from Mike Mecke in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
People conform to political boundaries. Water does not.
Ten years ago, recognizing the rapidly growing threat to the water quality of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer, 13 unconnected Texas Hill Country jurisdictions sat down together and talked. Acknowledging that water, especially groundwater, does not conform to human boundaries, they devised a bold plan to conform to water, by crossing those boundaries. With help from the HCA, 65 participants from those jurisdictions re-convened on April 26 in Buda for The Next Wave, a workshop to share how they are each implementing the plan now. Learn More
Texas Rainwater Catchment Association Conference this weekend in San Marcos
The TRWCA Annual Conference will be held all day Friday and Saturday, May 10–11 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in San Marcos. HCA will have a booth promoting our Rainwater Revival event – Come on by and see us! Learn More
San Antonio can lead in smart water policy
Experts contend that any of the proposed reservoirs in the Texas Water Plan built west of Interstate 35 would lose more in evaporation than they would gain in new water supply. Creating an underground reservoir through the establishment of an ASR makes much more sense in hot, dry South Texas. Read more from SA Express-News.
Water, MUD and Beer: Recipe for an Explosive Hill Country Development Fight
Despite near-unanimous local opposition, state Rep. Jason Isaac and Sen. Donna Campbell are carrying legislation that would create a municipal utility district (MUD) for LaMantia (Needmore Ranch, Wimberley), gifting him the authority to marshal tax-free bond financing, impose taxes on future landowners to recoup the costs of development, and possibly seize land through state-granted eminent domain authority. The fight has spawned a fierce debate about private property rights. Read more from the Texas Observer.
Concerned Hays County citizens gather to discuss Needmore Ranch MUD
More than 400 concerned Hays County citizens gathered at the Wimberley Community Center Thursday evening, April 25, to speak their mind on legislation affecting the long-term health of the area. Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) hosted the event to discuss HB 3918, the 5,000 acre Needmore Ranch MUD. Read CARD’s meeting report here. To learn more about the consequences of MUDs read “Why We Really Need to Pay Attention to Special Districts” by Milan J. Michalec here.
Comptroller’s Endangered Species Duties Could Go to Wildlife Department
Comptroller Susan Combs, Texas’ top accountant and tax official, doesn’t just deal with money: she’s also in charge of monitoring endangered species. It’s an odd coupling, money manager and critter caretaker, and a new piece of legislation could undo the two disparate duties. More from State Impact Texas.
Industrial Wind and Transmission Updates
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment continues to monitor and participate in industrial wind and transmission activities that could impact the Hill Country. In the latest updates, information is provided on the continuing debate over the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). Near and long term transmission developments are covered as well. Read the latest from SOSHE here.
Fiesta on the San Antonio River’s ‘Garbage Reach’
“This year, sadly, the lasting image of Fiesta’s final day for me will be the storm-washed litter that destroyed any sense of civic pride that I or anyone else in this city should feel today for the reborn Mission Reach of the San Antonio River.” Bob Rivard’s story makes a compelling case for the Texas Bottle Bill. Read the Rivard Report here.
CAMPO expands to include Burnet County
The Capitol Area Management Planning Organization (CAMPO) is responsible for coordinating transportation plans for counties and cities surrounding Austin. The boundaries have been expanded and the organization has formalized a cooperative planning agreement with Lone Star Rail for high capacity transit plans in Central Texas. Read CAMPO’s recent news here.
Water Bill Falters After Contentious House Debate
A major bill on the top of Gov. Rick Perry's priority list that would authorize spending billions of dollars on state water projects faltered in the Texas House on Monday night after a contentious debate over where to pull the money from. Ritter’s bill, House Bill 11, would have taken $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund — a multibillion-dollar reserve of mostly oil and gas taxes — and spent it on water-supply projects, in an effort to help the state withstand future droughts. More from Texas Tribune.
Central Texas Water Coalition voices concerns with LCRA Water Management Plans
“The latest version of the LCRA Water Management Plan (WMP), which the TCEQ released for public comment on April 15, 2013, still raises serious concerns.” For example, recent years' data indicates the average inflows have significantly decreased but the plan still uses data from past assumptions. “Average inflows of 1,200,000 AF are assumed as compared to the recent five year average of 450,000 AF.” Read the full list of recommendations from CTWC.
SAWS turns off its Medina Lake tap
The San Antonio Water System has stopped drawing water from Medina Lake and shut down its treatment plant on the Medina River because of problems with the quality of the lake water. More from SA Express-News.
Limiting Environmental Regs Raises Fears of ‘Race to the Bottom’
Texas likes to be “business friendly” and as the state legislature considers bills to limit environmental regulation to keep it that way, some economists warn of the longer term consequences. Read more from State Impact.
Texas EcoLab: A Compelling Alternative to Ag Valuation
EcoLab is a partnership between landowners with ecologically valuable land and university researchers. Under this program, your land could transition into wildlife management use after just 2 years without needing an ag or timber valuation first. Click here to learn more.
A $13 million failure of imagination in Center Point
Explore how in Kerr County the "business as usual" model brings not only a $13 million price tag, but social and natural resource consequences as well. A veteran of over a quarter century of trying to move society toward sustainable water, providing planning and engineering as if water and environmental values matter. Read more from waterblogue.com
Malicious but Delicious
Restaurants are beginning to do their part to raise awareness of invasive animal invaders by putting them on the menu. Austin restaurant, Foreign and Domestic, recently staged a special feast, "Malicious but Delicious," in partnership with the Nature Conservancy with a dish featuring feral hog porchetta. Learn more from the New York Times.
As SAWS Pushes Native Plants, Texas Legislature Considers Native Plant Bills
Keeping Texas looking like Texas should get a bit easier if two bills introduced by State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) pass the Texas Legislature this session. HB 1116 would create a Texas Native Seed Competitive Grant Program to fund and promote the development and cultivation of native seed. If HB 1135 passes, a Native Seed Committee composed of 12 individuals from around the state will be charged with crafting a master plan for encouraging native seed production and diversity. More from The Rivard Report.
National historic designation plaque to be unveiled at Herff Farm at the Cibolo, April 27
The Cibolo Nature Center & Farm will hold a public ceremony to unveil a bronze plaque at Herff Farm at the Cibolo in Boerne at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 27, to recognize the farm’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Details
Regional Lone Star Land Steward Awards Honor Texas Conservationists
At a time when punishing drought underscores the importance of managing our land and water to help Texas weather the worst, two land owners, two organizations and a mining company are being recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Lone Star Land Steward program for their efforts in rejuvenating native habitat and wildlife across the state. Learn More
461 acres added to Government Canyon
Government Canyon now has 461 more acres and includes the second-highest point in Bexar County. The land is over the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer and protects endangered species and San Antonio's water supply. Read more from SA Express-News.
Huber: Don’t let short-term interests steal future prosperity
The recent federal court ruling, faulting the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes, directly relates to maintaining prosperity. The judge ruled that the agency has a statutory obligation to ensure enough fresh water flows downriver to the coast to provide viable habitat for critters like blue crabs, which sustain the whooping cranes – and ultimately us. Read more from Karen Huber at Statesman.com.
It's time for a Texas bottle bill, but crusade meets with little enthusiasm in Austin
It's called simply "the bottle bill." And it would set up a 5-cent deposit-refund system that essentially would pay people to turn in plastic and glass beverage containers from things like water, sodas and energy drinks to redemption centers across the state to be recycled. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.
City of Buda maintains small-town appeal, wins award
What happens to a small town when it is bombarded with growth? In many cases, the town loses its identity, its quaintness. Ask residents of Buda what they want for the future, and most will say, "Preserve our small town atmosphere." Read more from Hays Free Press.
Whooping Cranes Are Important Sentinel of Texas Heritage
The recent federal court opinion holding the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) accountable for the deaths of 23 whooping cranes because of inadequate freshwater inflows to San Antonio Bay has generated a lot of concern and discussion. Read More
Texas Watershed Steward program to address water quality, availability
A Texas Watershed Steward workshop on water quality and availability issues related to the Pedernales River will be held May 22 in Fredericksburg. The no-cost training is open to anyone interested in improving the land and watershed quality of the Pedernales River area. Details
Outlook Calls for Texas Drought to Continue Into Summer
Central Texas’ two largest reservoirs, Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, are at 41 percent capacity, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority, LCRA, website. Those low levels aren’t likely to improve much in the coming months, as the NOAA outlook anticipates warmer and drier weather through June. Read more from State Impact.
Collaboration News on the Upper Llano River Watershed
The second newsletter of the Upper Llano River Watershed Protection Plan is a great summary of events and progress. The Llano is so important to entire Colorado River system; springs on private lands feed this resource that becomes the water supply Austin. Read more. Or download the newsletter here.
Statesman Editorial calls out Austin bashing bills
It isn’t just Austin that suffers though when land development rules are weakened. It’s not a coincidence that Austin is a great place to live. “People who oppose development rules that Austin has lived under for more than 20 years have every right to try to change them through traditional democratic means at City Hall,” state Sen. Kirk Watson said. More from Statesman.com.
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance releases Legislative Agenda for the 83rd Session
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance has released their Legislative Agenda for the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature. This agenda includes bills filed as of March 29th, 2013. The Agenda has been compiled by consensus and endorsed by all forty-seven of our member groups, spanning twenty-one counties in Central Texas. Collectively, our groups represent approximately 25,000 Texans. Read More
UGRA: River quality in better shape
Water quality in the local Guadalupe River watershed improved last year, according to a recent report by the Upper Guadalupe River Authority. Although 2012 was drier than ideal, a few rainfalls produced beneficial flooding, said Tara Bushnoe, UGRA natural resources coordinator. Read More
Pull off the interstate in Junction for kayaking, hiking, birding and barbecue
Junction’s famous for its spring-fed rivers, state park, roosting turkeys, paddling routes, bird watching and pecans. While white-tailed deer hunting still ranks as one of the most popular draws for visitors, things are changing. Eco tourism is on the rise. “Probably in 30 years we’ll have more people coming for butterflies, birding and night skies than we do for deer hunting." Read the full story from Statesman.com
Better Lights for Starry Nights!
Our Night sky educational tour last week was very successful. Monday in Kerrville we co-hosted a gathering with community leaders and friends from the Riverside Nature Center at Schreiner University. A new observatory is in the works on the Schreiner campus giving Kerrville a wonderful new incentive to protect the night sky. Monday evening we joined the Texas Master Naturalists, Hill Country chapter for their monthly meeting with close to 100 participants. Tuesday, we partnered with the Hill Country Land Trust for a program in Fredericksburg where the city council recently passed a supportive resolution. Communities throughout the Hill Country are learning about effective night sky lighting as Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory travels with HCA to share this story. Events were hosted at the Llano Public Library Wednesday and Thursday evening at the LBJ Historical Park in Johnson City. Learn More
Texas Tribune launches “In the Flow”
Exciting to see The Texas Water Symposium, one of HCA’s partner programs is featured in Volume 1, Issue 1, Story 1. Click here to read the first issue of In the Flow and become a subscriber yourself.
Barnes: George Cofer works to save open spaces
Cofer (head of the Hill Country Conservancy) has led the charge to snap up conservation easements in the Hill Country, allowing some private projects, thereby securing legal protection for other open space in perpetuity. Soon, his group will help break ground on Phase 2 of a grand project — the 30-mile Violet Crown Trail that will link the parks and greenbelts in Austin’s urban core toward a spine of Hill Country that arcs across the Barton Springs recharge zone. More from Statesman.com.
Award given to South Llano Watershed Alliance
The Junction-based South Llano Watershed Alliance is a winner of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s 2013 Lone Star Land Steward Award. Former First Lady Laura Bush will be the keynote speaker at an awards ceremony in Austin on May 21. Read More
Drought Response Sparks the Battle of St. Augustine
At some point, the realities of water in Texas will reach a point where it is impossible to lay all of the drought’s harm on someone else. Lawns — and whether to keep them in the face of a protracted water shortage — come into the argument. Read more from Texas Tribune.
Water cutbacks loom
If conditions continue unabated, the Edwards Aquifer Authority for the first time in its history, will declare Uvalde County to be in Stage 5, thus triggering a 44-percent cut in pumping.” Read full article from Uvalde-Leader News.
Winemiller: The real cost of the Texas drought
The 2011 drought was not as impactful as the “drought of record” during the 1950s. In the wake of that terrible decade, Texas embarked on a massive campaign of infrastructure construction to achieve water security. But the situation is different now, and this time we cannot simply build our way out of a water crisis. Read more from Statesman.com.
Water: For Thirsty Lawns or Thirsty People?
The Texas Water Development Board estimates that 40 percent of all municipal water use is outdoors. Of that, half is lost to runoff from the excessive watering of lawns. This is drinking water that is simply wasted. This is water that could easily be conserved. Read more from HCA's Milan J. Michalec and the Rivard Report.
Hill Country Alliance Calls for Entries in 7th Annual Photo Contest
For its 7th Annual Hill Country Photo Contest, HCA is looking for photography that captures the spectacular beauty of this region, images that illuminate the very things that are worth protecting, and the historical or cultural stories that need to be told. The Photo Contest Call for Entries is open through May 31, 2013. Learn More
HCA in action featured in the LCRA Aqua Vita newsletter
“Stewardship in Action” by Robin Berry, gives a wonderful recap of our recent Water Symposium and gathering at 700 Springs. “Rural land steward panelists David Langford, Tom Vandivier and Ruthie Russell described how their land management practices help maintain water levels in the beautiful spring-fed Llano River” Read the newsletter and don’t miss the wonderful slide show of pictures!
Texas Water Symposium – the precious springs of Texas
The latest Texas Water Symposium (TWS) was hosted by the Llano River Field Station at Texas Tech in Junction on March 8th. The TWS provides perspectives from policy makers, scientists, water experts, and regional leaders on dealing with the complexity and challenges in providing water for Texans in this century. The Junction symposium focused on the vast importance of springs and the connections between groundwater, surface water, science, and stewardship. Read full Junction Eagle article. Read more from TPR and listen to the rebroadcast.
“Kimble County - Where Our Stars Are Stars”
The Kimble County Chamber of Commerce & Junction Tourism has announced their new “Kimble County – Where Our Stars Are Stars!” Night Skies Friendly Business Recognition Program. Learn More
The Texas Water Plan - An 18 Year Old Perspective
Are we listening to the next generation? 18 year-old Justin Wolfe writes, "The state’s next step ought to be to legislate groundwater as a public resource, so as to manage and regulate it effectively. Only by managing this resource can we ensure the longevity of our water system for generations to come." Read Justin's full article here.
Major Water Funding Bill Moves One Step Forward, Prioritizes Conservation
Significant new funding for water projects in a dry, thirsty Texas moved one step closer to becoming a reality Thursday. The bill, HB 4, would take money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to start a loan program for new water projects. Read more from State Impact Texas.
Monarchs in trouble: Bad news for the butterfly species in Mexico and Texas
“The severe drought in Texas and much of the Southwest continues to wreak havoc with the number of monarchs. The conditions have been dry both here and in Mexico in recent years. It takes four generations of the insects to make it all of the way up to Canada, and because of lack of milkweed along the way, a lot of them just don’t make it.” Read full article from Texas Climate News.
In the Valley, not just farmers, but cities, may run out of water by spring
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, water shortages are shaping up as a crisis not just for farmers but also for entire cities this year, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. In 2009, the area experienced the worst drought in decades, as did much of the state, but this year is shaping up to be much worse for area residents, said Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station. Read More
Judge rules in favor of WVWA
Dwight Peschel, Senior Judge of the 25th Judicial District, has released a letter indicating he is ruling in favor of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in its lawsuit against the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and Wimberley Springs Partners. Read Full Wimberley View article.
Water on the Home Front: New Report Highlights HOA Restrictions on Xeriscaping
“Texas faces an unprecedented water crisis, and most of the HOA landscaping rules that we found are barriers to the ability of ordinary homeowners to conserve,” said David Foster, State Director for Clean Water Fund and the report's author. He added: “Lawn watering can account for 60% or more of a typical homeowner's overall water usage.” Read More
Judge rules in favor of the Aransas Project in whooping crane case
The Court issued an order preventing the TCEQ from approving or granting new water permits affecting the Guadalupe or San Antonio Rivers “until the State of Texas provides reasonable assurances to the Court” that new permits would not result in harm to the whooping cranes. Learn More
Catching water from the sky
Water conservation has become a hot-button issue as water becomes more expensive and scarcer, especially during times of drought. Restrictions on landscape watering are common during the hotter months, and the (San Antonio) city council recently approved an 8.4 percent rate increase that SAWS requested. But customers who install catchment systems develop habits that reduce water usage, said Jim Champion of San Antonio-based Texas Rainfall Catchment. “Even with the smallest system, people gain new, better habits about using water,” he said. “They become more conscious of their water use.” Read more from SA Express-News
Texas' Water Future: What if it isn't there - or it's too costly?
Seeing our legislature taking a good, long and hopefully, logical look at our State Water Plan and its financing is hopeful. But going for the big, expensive and glamorous water projects will often cause more problems and not reduce our appetite for what is now more precious than gold, oil or gas—water. Read more from Mike Mecke in Ranch & Rural living here.
Billboards on Scenic Highways in Comal County
Billboards on Scenic Highways in Comal County will be the topic of the League of Women Voters - Comal Area public meeting March 21. Chris Cornwell, of Scenic Comal County, will describe the problem of proliferation of billboards along highways in the unincorporated areas of the county and Gus Cannon & Wendy Knox, from the Texas Department of Transportation, will explain the current regulations for billboards on state maintained highways in Comal County. Property owners have been invited to provide the point of view defending private property rights and financial considerations. Details
The Central Texas Water Coalition (CTWC) proposes buying out rice farmers
"What we have asked for is simple. That the LCRA take a close look at the concept before authorizing construction of the first reservoir. A committee of farmers and upstream interests should be brought together to see if the idea makes sense, just as the bitter enemies of ranchers and environmentalists eventually came together in the Texas Hill Country to find a middle ground, and to formulate a Win/Win solution to their problems." Read more from CTWC President Jo Karr Tedder.
Rainwater Revival Garners ‘Texas Rain Catcher’ Award for Public Education Excellence
“We’re honored to receive this recognition from the Texas Water Development Board,” said Karen Ford, HCA Board Member and chair of the event. “Our goal is to offer a useful, entertaining event that inspires anyone interested in conserving our water resources to learn how rainwater harvesting can become a reality for their home or business. With hundreds of people attending each of our three annual events to date, we help make rainwater catchment an easy priority for everyone.” Read More
Leurig: Conservation is conservative approach to solving Texas water problems
Testimony to the drought of 2011 is still all around us — dried-up reservoirs in West Texas, purposeless docks on the parched Pedernales River. On the heels of the drought, the idea of seeding a fund to meet the next 50 years of Texas’ water supply needs is a hard idea to pass up. But before we pluck that money from the state’s rainy day fund, let’s take a second look at what the state’s water needs really are, and how we ensure that state funds aren’t squandered in speculative water development. Read more from Statesman.com
Texas Springs Symposium March 8th
The 6th Annual Texas Water Symposium series continues this month at Junction with a personal conversation between Hill Country landowners and water experts about springs - the connection between groundwater and surface water. Details
Bill filed to recognize ecologically significant Hill Country rivers
A bill has been filed in the Texas Legislature to help preserve the unique ecological condition of the headwaters of the Nueces, Frio and Sabinal rivers in Uvalde County and the Comal and San Marcos rivers in Comal and Hays counties. Learn More
Blanco Post Office Installs Night Sky-Friendly Lights
Sometimes its what you don’t see that is really impressive. Such was the case recently when the Blanco Post Office installed new LED bulbs in the recently replaced carriage lights on the front of the Post Office building. The bulbs that originally had been installed in the new fixtures shined straight out onto the street and caused an irritating white glare for motorists and pedestrians alike. Additionally, because the lights shined above the horizon, they contributed to Blanco’s sky glow. Read more from Blanco County News.
Asleep at the Wheel to perform at event benefiting Texas Dance Hall Preservation
TDHP was founded in 2007 to help save the dance halls of Texas. Join TDHP for a benefit, March 30 at the historic Anhalt Hall, with a performance by nine-time Grammy award winning western swing band, Asleep at the Wheel, and a silent auction featuring rare music memorabilia. Details
Judge hears arguments in Jacob's Well groundwater dispute
The clear water that flows out of Jacob's Well has brought people to the Wimberley Valley for thousands of years, but in recent years the spring has stopped flowing, something which didn't happen even in the drought of record during the 1950s. "The reason it's gone dry is because of the heavy pumping from wells that are in the area," attorney Malcolm Harris said. More from YNN.
Burnet County officials to hold meeting on water issues, February 27
Water levels at lakes Travis and Buchanan remain low, and with slim chances for respite from the drought anytime soon, Burnet County officials have called a meeting Wednesday to brief residents and businesses on water issues. More from Statesman.com
A look at green infrastructure
Much of the focus about funding the State Water Plan is centered around significant public investments for traditional infrastructure such as treatment plants, pipes and dams; an expensive and sort-term strategy. Green Infrastructure provides much more cost-effective, long-term healthy natural systems for providing plentiful, clean water supply. Learn about Green Infrastructure from American Rivers here. Another great read about Green Infrastructure from the EPA here.
Spring Ag Irrigation Could Move San Antonio Toward Stage III Water Restrictions
As Texas enters a third year of drought, San Antonio Water System is bracing for the possibility that Stage III water restrictions may be activated for the first time in the city’s history as early as March. More from Rivard Report
Water experts from around the country gather in Austin to discuss improving water conservation
Our continued drought conditions here in Central Texas are a reminder of how important successful water conservation can be to a community. The drought also serves as a backdrop for this year’s 3rd Annual Water Conservation Symposium that focuses on Success Through Innovation: Strategies To Effectively Save Water, February 26th. Details
New study shows positive economic impact through a Texas beverage container deposit recycling program
Implementing a refundable deposit on beverage containers in Texas would provide a significant, positive impact to the state through increased economic activity, job creation, and reduced litter, according to a study released today by the Texas League of Conservation Voters. Learn More
Dome on the Range
Kenrick and Laurie Kattner have shared a love of stargazing and a dream of building their own observatory. They spent months driving around at night looking a spot away from the nighttime glow of Hill Country cities and towns. In 2007 they found the perfect piece of property in Llano County. “The Big Bend area near McDonald Observatory is one of the darkest areas in the nation, and it’s not that different out at our place,” Ken says of their Hill Country land. Read their story from Landscapes Magazine.
We need to design water sustainability into the very fabric of development
“So clearly there is ample reason to question if a State Water Plan that is predicated on extending and perpetuating the prevailing 19th century infrastructure model would cost more than it needs to, if we were to instead pursue a smarter infrastructure model, a model that recognizes and responds to the water realities here in the 21st century. An infrastructure model that yields deep conservation.” More from waterblogue.com.
Native landscapes, saving natural resources, edible gardens to be March workshop topics at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm
Using energy-efficient technology at home, designing native landscapes and creating edible gardens will be workshop topics at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm during March. Details
Hill Country Land Trust Earns National Recognition
The Hill Country Land Trust has achieved land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The Hill Country Land Trust’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation that benefits the entire community,” says John Huecksteadt, Hill Country Land Trust President. Learn More
Statesman Article examines who benefits from the “Fund the Water Plan” campaign
H2O4Texas PAC included “oil and gas companies, realtors, home builders, water suppliers and engineers — industries that stand to benefit from massive projects to move water around the state.” But as Andy Sansom explains, “It’s hard to grasp that the easiest, cheapest water to get is the water we already have. Should I spend $100 million to build a new reservoir, or spend money fixing the leaking water mains all over town?” Read the full article here.
Scenic City Certification Program accepting applications, through March 31
Scenic Texas has identified a direct correlation between the success of a city’s economic development efforts and the visual appearance of its public spaces. In recognition of this link, Scenic Texas has developed the Scenic City Certification Program to support and recognize municipalities that implement high-quality scenic standards for public roadways and public spaces. To learn more and download the application visit www.sceniccitycertification.org. For a detailed review of the program be sure to attend the hour-long webinar, March 6 at 10:30am.
Enjoy beautiful images of the Hill Country Night Landscape
HCA Photo Contest winner Chase A. Fountain is featured in a wonderful TPWD photo story about the Texas night landscape and starry sky above. Learn more about Hill Country efforts to protect the night sky. Keep tabs on the HCA Website and Newsletter, the 2014 Photo Contest is about to begin!
Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop
Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretation class that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Workshop held the first two weekends in April. Register now, only a few spots remain. Details
Drought Plans on Edwards Aquifer is OK'd
A plan to manage the competing uses of the Edwards Aquifer in a drought was approved Thursday and couldn't be more timely, as the region faces what may be one for the record books. More from SA Express-News
Andy Sansom: “Action on Texas Water needed Now”
“Because the landscape of Texas is more than 95 percent owned by private citizens, virtually all our watersheds, all our recharge zones and all the countryside where the raindrops fall are on private property. The implications for our water supply are that in Texas we lose rural and agricultural land faster than any other state. We must find a way to keep our landowner stewards on the land and doing the right thing to ensure continued water for the rest of us.” Read the full opinion piece published in the Austin American Statesman here.
Bee Cave seeks control over development
"The Bee Cave City Council, concerned about a lack of control over new development near the city, hopes to hold an election in May that would give the council authority to annex nearby land and better regulate what is built there." Pay attention though a little further down the road, development could be pushed where the County currently has no land-use authority and needs it. Read more from Austin American Statesman.
We Love Hill Country State Parks and Natural Areas
State Park funding is once again a challenge this legislative session. To be part of a growing voice to “Keep Texas Parks Open” visit and like this Facebook movement.Check out the most recent issue of TPWD’s wonderful “Life’s Better Outside” newsletter that includes great information about conservation, water, kids outdoors and wildlife.
Come on Texas Hill Country – Let’s take the 40 Gallon Challenge together
Help turn the Hill Country region on this map to dark blue as we take the 40 Gallon Pledge together. We can do more to conserve water inside and outside our homes and businesses. Start by taking the pledge yourself. Then spread the word! Remember to forward to teachers too, this is a great educational tool for our kids. Take the Pledge
Deep Conservation, the Surest Path to Sustainable Water
A new water dialog has been launched www.waterblogue.com. “The stock in trade of water conservation programs practiced by cities and other water supply entities only tinkers around the margins of the basic water management infrastructure system; they do not attempt to fundamentally alter that system...what we need, if we are to approach sustainable water, are dependable, enduring long-term savings that are inherent in our water management processes. To get there, we need to get more deeply into how we manage water, and to fundamentally reform those processes." Read More
16th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 15-18
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual 4-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Everyone is welcome--from beginning bird watchers to experts. Learn More
How Hill Country Grazing Led to Cedar Fever in Texas
Grazing practices introduced to the Hill Country region in the late 19th century may be the cause of your cedar allergies. Read how from State Impact Texas.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Approves EARIP Habitat Conservation Plan
"Approval of the EARIP's HCP marks a significant conservation achievement for the Edwards Aquifer Region," stated Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle. "The organizations and individuals involved in the development of the HCP clearly demonstrated that it is possible to come together and develop a consensus based solution to a very complex water issue in Texas." Read More
Texas Lawmaker Seeks Overhaul of Water Board
In addition to the intensifying discussions of water infrastructure funding at the Capitol, an even more basic conversation is also getting under way: whether to restructure the Texas Water Development Board. More from Texas Tribune
Why is Texas out of water during severe droughts?
Bringing science to policy is one of HCA’s core goals. As HCA Technical Advisor Raymond Slade explains, “Three major schemes are needed: (1) increased conservation of water to minimize waste, (2) funding for at least some of the most-promising Water Management Strategies, and (3) consistent water-use regulation for both groundwater and surface water.” Read the whole story here.
Liquid History - A Water Poem all Must Read
Sky Lewey describes this as the "most beautifully accurate description of rivers" she's ever read. HCA loves poetry -we open all board meetings with inspirational words to help us become grounded in our work. Imagine all policy decisions guided by wisdom like this. Liquid History by Dan Caudle, Upper Trinity GCD Director and distinguished Range Conservationist. Liquid History
Read more Hill Country news
May 23 in Austin - Westcave Preserve presents: “Welcome to the Wild Country,” an introduction to the unique assemblage of wildlife and plants of the Texas Hill Country - Details
May 28 in San Antonio - Native Plant Society of Texas, San Antonio meeting - Topic: Gardening for butterflies using native and adapted plants - Free and open to the public - Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details
May 29 in San Antonio - NEW DATE - Join GEAA to engage the Mayor and City Council of San Antonio in a dialogue about development on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, and whether or not to expand SAWS service into Comal County - Details.
May 29 in Wimberley - Screening of the new film by Robert Redford, "Watershed" - Details
May 30 - Braun & Gresham webinar on Transmission Line Routing - Landowners will have an opportunity to ask questions about their rights in this complicated process - Details
May 30 near Hunt - Range and Wildlife Management Field Day - For landowners, land managers and brush control contractors operating in possible endangered species habitats - Details
June 1 in Boerne - Learn about summer gardening, water conservation during Rain Dance Festival at Herff Farm - Details
June 1 in Junction - "Well Trained" - A one day training for people who rely on household wells - Details
June 4 - Braun & Gresham webinar on Transmission Line Routing - Landowners will have an opportunity to ask questions about their rights in this complicated process - Details
June 7 in Hunt - Streamside Landowner Workshop: Understanding Riparian Areas - Details
June 7-9 in Blanco - Join us at the Blanco Lavender Festival - Details
Call for entries through May 31st
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