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
San Antonio is one step closer to buying some of the most expensive water ever sold in Texas, just as the deal is drawing more critics. Read more from Texas Tribune
at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm on Oct. 6-11 Volunteers interested in learning about Hill Country wildlife and contributing to its scientific study are encouraged to become citizen scientists during the Wildlife Field Research “bio-blitz” taking place Oct. 6-11 at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Wildlife Field Research is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Learn more
The Highway Beautification Act will be 50 years old next year. As envisioned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, it was supposed to protect the natural landscape from billboards. Ever since its passage, scenic activists and billboard companies have been at war over the views along American highways. More from NPR.
The San Antonio Water System Board will vote Monday on a $3.40-billion landmark water deal that would pipe in 50,000 acre-feet of water to San Antonio annually as soon as 2019, enough to meet 20% of the growing city’s future water needs. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Monday’s vote by SAWS is step one, San Antonio City Council will ultimately consider and vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. Who is this water for? Where will it ultimately go? Who will ultimately pay and what are the long-term financial implications? Show up at UTSA Monday night for a balanced panel discussion. Get educated and get involved. Event details
“The 522 page draft contract for this $3.4 billion deal was posted on-line on September 23rd, giving the SAWS Board and the public less than a week to review a deal that will have far reaching implications for our community, including an estimated 16% rate hike for SAWS customers.” Read more from GEAA. As Margaret Day of the Alamo Sierra Club points out “to be sustainable, aquifer drawdown should be no greater than recharge.” Read this opinion piece from the Alamo Sierran Word.
Travis County is seeking public comments by Wednesday, Oct 1st on their Land, Water and Transportation plan. Read the plan, take the survey and/or send your comments via email. Meanwhile, CAMPO is taking comments until Oct 6th on a variety of projects including a study to construct a major tollway across sensitive preserve lands. “Traffic solution costly, harmful to environment” Read “City to oppose proposed tollroad” in the Austin American Statesmen.
The League of Women Voters of Comal Area invites the public to attend “The Trinity Aquifer: A Shared Resource/ A Shared Responsibility,” to be held October 7 in Canyon Lake. “If you drink water in Comal County, you are likely to be drinking Trinity water, or you soon will be. It is up to all of us to learn more about this resource, no matter where in Comal County we live.” Learn more
It's no secret that drought has been a major factor in the declining water levels of our lakes and reservoirs here in Texas. But there is another factor that has has received very little attention - evaporation. Read more from Texas Living Waters.
The stars may seem a little brighter over Kerrville next year. The Kerrville Public Utility Board last week set aside about $734,000 to upgrade 2,000 city street lights to “full cut-off,” high-efficiency LED lamps that won’t shine light upward. Read More from the Kerrville Daily Times.
Last week’s “Water Crisis” event hosted by The Hays County Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) drew a huge crowd and continues to create a lot of meaningful conversations about how rural lands west of I-35 will be developed. Learn more
Even as Cibolo Nature Center staffers celebrate a major milestone with the completed restoration of the historic Herff farmhouse, they're setting ambitious new goals. Read more from SA Express-News.
Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. Were sitting just below normal. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most. “The watershed that helps our water supplies isn’t here in Austin; it’s way up into the counties to the north of us." Read more from State Impact.
Land fragmentation has been a growing problem for Texas, and by all appearances it isn’t going to slow any time soon. The state’s population continues to grow rapidly, and those residents have an insatiable appetite for land. Read more from Livestock Weekly.
As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.
With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. Whats the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Read this excellent article by Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.
ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country. View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.
Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.
“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.
to host a free community meeting this Thursday to discuss why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. Speakers include Andy Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, and Bech Bruun of the TWDB. Details
The Fix 290 Coalition, a group of over 40 organizations and businesses and 2,800 petition signers, have been advocating for a “parkway" concept to move traffic through Oak Hill and protect the original character and unique natural environment of the area for more than a decade. The City of Austin is now asking for a study of this community driven “parkway” alternative to TxDot’s traditional elevated/frontage road model. Read more from Fix290.
On Saturday, September 6th the Hill Country Alliance hosted a landowner workshop for those landowners potentially impacted by the LCRA's proposed Blumenthal substation and transmission line project. The workshop featured an update from the LCRA on the status of their application to the Public Utility Commission, and a panel discussion of landowner rights during the transmission line routing and construction process. To read a more detailed summary of the event and access speaker presentations, click here.
A decade ago, prospective water marketers easily secured the rights to pump more than 20 billion gallons of water annually from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas’ Burleson County. The company now holding those rights, BlueWater, is negotiating a $3 billion deal to send much of that water to San Antonio. Read more from The Texas Tribune.
October 7 in Canyon Lake - Public Forum on Trinity Aquifer, presented by The League of Women Voters Comal Area - Details
October 8 in San Antonio - Water Forum V: A regional forum on our future - Details
October 15 in Junction - SLWA Guadalupe Bass Workshop - Details
October 16 in San Antonio - Teaming with Wildlife: The State of Nature in Texas, presented by Compassionate San Antonio - Details
October 16 in Boerne - Hill Country Agri-land workshop - Details
October 17-19 in Alpine - Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference: Ecological Restoration in the Southwest - Details
October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details
October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details
One sale now!- Purchase Online
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