Express-News staff photographer Bob Owen and staff writer Richard Oliver traveled the state from May through September to tell the stories of people whose lives have been changed by the drought. Read the four-part series.
National meteorologists expect the drought to continue or worsen through late summer and early fall in Texas, and ocean patterns are troublingly similar to those during the “drought of record” in the 1950s. More from State Impact.
Early last year, Spicewood Beach became the first Texas town to run out of water during the current drought. Since then, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), which owned and managed the community’s water system, has been trucking approximately 32,500 gallons of water per day to the small community, and an extra 6,500-gallon truckload on weekends. More from State Impact
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
It is always difficult to force oneself to see the positive side of adversity. However, most people will readily admit that hardship, suffering and pain are not only a normal part of life, but are actually beneficial and desirable when viewed as part of the big picture. Read Steve Nelle's Riparian Notes for January 2013.
Facing a record-breaking drought with no end in sight, the Lower Colorado River Authority has again asked the state to allow us to not release water from the Highland Lakes for most downstream farmers this year unless substantial rainfall replenishes the reservoirs. LCRA’s Board of Directors took that action Jan. 8 for the second year in a row. Last year was the first time most rice farmers didn’t get any Highland Lakes water. Read More
“The water release planning for 2013 has been the subject of a collision of interests as drought drags on in the region,” Read the Statesman report here. This decision is described as “incomprehensible” by some, read the news from the Highland Lakes Highlander here. The bottom line is that everyone needs to conserve and start thinking a whole new way about water use, this battle has just begun.
Non-Edwards sources, such as the Trinity Aquifer and Canyon Reservoir are increasingly being exposed to the demands of the rapidly growing regional population surrounding San Antonio such as in Comal, Kendall and Hays counties. These areas of the Hill Country are subjected to repeated cycles of drought, with few, if any, alternative sources of water. Using water from sources like these for outdoor use to avoid water restrictions in San Antonio is done at the expense of others. Ultimately, it strains the availability of drinking water of others. Read more from HCA's Milan Michalec in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.
With Medina Lake just a puddle of its former self, the reservoir's dam gates are now closed to delay the lake from going dry until it starts to rain — really rain — again. Regardless, the level of the lake, now at roughly 13 percent capacity, is likely to keep falling because of evaporation and seepage. The decision by the dam's owner to close the gates last week is another benchmark of the drought's severity and persistence. Read more from SA Express-News.
We're in the worst drought in the United States since the 1950s, and we’re wasting it. For decades, Americans have typically handled drought the same way. We are asked to limit lawn-watering and car-washing, to fully load dishwashers and washing machines before running them, to turn off the tap while brushing our teeth. When the rain comes, we all go back to our old water habits. But just as the oil crisis of the 1970s spurred advances in fuel efficiency, so should the Drought of 2012 inspire efforts to reduce water consumption. Read full NY Times article.
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.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA ), for the first time in its history, has declared Stage IV mandatory pumping reductions for Edwards Aquifer users within the Uvalde Pool (Uvalde County). Read more from AACOG.
Drought may be a part of life in Texas, but last year's crisis left an indelible mark on the state and raised tough questions about its future. In a special report on the 2011 drought, KUT News, StateImpact Texas and Texas Monthly examine how the state will manage a growing population amid a shrinking water supply. More from Texas Tribune.
This week State Impact launched a new interactive webpage about the historic Texas drought, Dried Out. The page gives a visual sense of how intense the drought has been and its impact on the state. Share your stories on how the drought has affected your business, your home — or your way of life. Read More from NPR.
There is no way to overstate the severity of the drought. Last year Texas had its driest year on record, paired with some of the highest temperatures we’ve ever seen. But even as the situation has improved for some thanks to a relatively wet winter, other parts of the state are still in the worst stage of drought. HCA Advisor, Raymond Slade is interviewed in this story from NPR.
Most of Central and East Texas beat long odds with heavy rains this winter, but experts warned state lawmakers Thursday that the drought is far from over. State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said that the second year of a La Niña cycle — cooler temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that influence global weather patterns — produces a dry winter for Texas "4 times out of 5." But Nielsen-Gammon said it's a coin toss whether the recent winning streak will continue. "The (short-term) outlook is not particularly dire or good," he said. Read more from Statesman.com.
The Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District eased drought restrictions from Stage III Critical Drought to Stage II Alarm at its Board meeting this evening, effective immediately. With above average rainfall this winter, soils reached saturation and runoff created enough creek flow to contribute some recharge to the aquifer. Read more from BSEACD.
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.
Power generation, drinking water availability, agriculture, reservoirs and aquifers have all been threatened at best and decimated at worst by the state's current drought that has now spilled into a second year, water specialists speaking at the University of Texas said Monday. Read full Statesman.com article.
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.
A Central Texas community has run out of water amid a statewide drought, prompting the Lower Colorado River Authority to start trucking in water. Read more from Statesman.com.
The well supplying water for about 1,100 residents near Spicewood Beach in Burnet County is at risk of running dry in two to three weeks because of prolonged drought conditions…"We are hopeful that conservation efforts will extend the life of the well, but even so, it is likely the well will become unusable in the next few weeks." Learn More
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will be hosting drought emergency planning workshops throughout the state in January and February 2012. The workshops will provide local government officials, board members, and their water system operators information and tools to prevent and mitigate water outages. Learn More
After enduring the record-setting heat and dry conditions of 2011, drought-weary Texans are being greeted with forecasts of more of the same for the new year. Read more from TexasClimateNews.org.
A new study of tree rings adds to evidence that Texas has experienced at least one 10-year drought every 100 years, as well as several "mega-droughts" lasting 15 to 30 years over the centuries. Read full Texas Tribune article.
A historic drought has depleted Texas aquifers to lows rarely seen since 1948, and it could take months — or even years — for the groundwater supplies to fully recharge, scientists who study NASA satellite data said Wednesday. Read more from SA Express-News.
Reflecting statewide rainfall totals for most of 2011 that were well below 1956 levels and record low levels in local monitor wells, the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District implemented Stage Five of the drought contingency plan in June of 2011. The success of this effort to conserve groundwater can ultimately rest on the ability of a District to enforce rules. For coverage of a rare, but sometimes necessary, enforcement hearing in Kendall County. Read full SA Express-News article.
Water Specialist and HCA Advisory Board member, Mike Mecke, provides an overview of the current conditions of the primary lakes and rivers of Texas in the November edition of Ranch & Rural Living Magazine. Read article here.
Agricultural losses attributed to the drought have reached a record $5.2 billion, according to a report prepared by Texas A&M System's AgriLife Extension Service. Livestock losses alone are $2.06 billion. After factoring in losses for elevators, processing plants and other businesses that serve farmers and ranchers, the total economic impact hits $8.7 billion. Read full Statesman.com article.
Texas could be in the midst of a drought the history books have never seen, meaning water planners need to prepare for worse than what they've seen, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Thursday. Read more from Statesman.com.
The water shortage in Texas can certainly use some prayers, and maybe even some rain dances. But it's going to take more than that — much more. That was the conclusion Saturday of panelists at a session called "The Coming Crisis Over Water." Read more from Go San Angelo.
Draft Water Plan Says Texas "Will Not Have Enough" "The primary message of the 2012 state water plan is a simple one," the introduction states. "In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, and its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises." Read full Texas Tribune article.
At a board meeting on Wednesday, the Lower Colorado River Authority approved an emergency plan that could cut off water supplies to downriver rice farmers entirely next year if the drought worsens. Read full Texas Tribune article.
A study released in 1979 showed just how close El Paso was to a water crisis. Over the next couple of decades the city took drastic measures to stabilize its water supply, undergoing a philosophical and physical facelift that included ripping up grass from many public places, installing rock and cactus gardens and offering financial incentives for residents to do the same. Today, El Paso is among the few cities in the drought-stricken state not worrying about water. Read full El Paso Times article.
“This story is just another example of how we are all in this together. No one city or person can use water without thinking about someone else's water needs. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "it is when the well is dry that we know the price of water." Texas may not yet know the price, but we are certainly understanding its value.” Read more from Amy Hardberger at EDF.
Government has always had a hard time telling Texans how to live. But the ban on most types of outdoor watering has been embraced by people in Llano, where a kind of World War II-era rationing spirit has become a way of life.” Read NY Times article here.
The Barton Spring Edwards Aquifer Conservation District issued an update this week about drought conditions, conservation and restrictions to expect. “The District asks all of its groundwater-using residents to continue their water conservation measures and be even better stewards of an increasingly scarce resource. A list of water conservation measures and more detailed information on aquifer conditions are available on District’s website at http://www.bseacd.org.” Read the Aquifer Bulletin here.
The water level of the Edwards Aquifer J-17 monitoring well has dropped more than two feet since Monday, putting San Antonio on the edge of triggering Stage 3 watering restrictions.Unless the region gets rain very soon, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and San Antonio Water System are predicting that sometime between next week and mid-September, outdoor watering with sprinklers and irrigation systems will be limited to one day every other week. Read full SA Express article here.
Water flowing into the Highland Lakes is down to a trickle, and Central Texas continues to break high temperature and low rainfall records. Experts now warn these drought conditions could continue into 2012. Given this reality, the National Wildlife Federation and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club urge our region's water providers to revisit their drought contingency plans and adopt stronger measures to reduce water use before our water supplies are further compromised. Read full Statesman.com opinion piece here.
These are more than just the dog days of summer in Austin. In addition to record temperatures, we are experiencing record drought. In fact, Lake Travis lost enough water in June to serve the entire City of Austin for a year. This week, both the Travis County Commissioners Court and the Austin City Council took major steps toward addressing these issues not just for the present, but also for future generations. Read full Statesman.com article here.
More than 99 percent of Texas is in some form of drought, and agricultural losses are more than $5.2 billion — the worst drought losses Texas has ever seen , according to a recent report released Wednesday by the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service. The losses represent more than three months of agricultural production in an average year. Read full Statesman.com article here.
“Texas is going to get hotter and drier,” said Malcolm Cleaveland, a professor at the University of Arkansas who led the researchers. Indeed, rainfall modeling shows that rising temperatures and more arid conditions over the last few decades are likely to increase in the 21st century. Read full New York Times article here.
The Texas Water Journal takes a close look at weather patterns and statistics related to unique Hill Country water resource challenges. “Statistical relations of precipitation and stream runoff for El Niño and La Niña periods, Texas Hill Country. It’s not news that The Texas Hill Country is threatened by devastating long-duration droughts and short-duration floods, but understanding these patterns and just how fragile and vulnerable our water system is can help our region manage limited water resources sustainably.
Population in the Hill Country is projected to continue to rapidly increase, thus the number of folks threatened by a serious water shortage also will increase. Perhaps the only benefit might be that residents of the Texas Hill Country would create a long-term plan to prevent such situations from occurring in the future. It will take many people working together to achieve this goal. Read full SA Express article here.
A prolonged stretch of exceptionally dry weather is causing the drought across Texas and the lower Colorado River basin to intensify."This has been the driest nine months in Texas history - the absolute driest,” LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said. “This is a serious situation, but it’s not dire. Water flowing into the Highland Lakes is down to a trickle in places. Rest assured LCRA is managing the region’s water supply to make it through this exceptional drought, and we are asking everyone to use water as efficiently as possible and reduce water use wherever they can.” Read full from Statesman.com article here.
FLOODS, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme weather have left a trail of destruction during the first half of 2011. But this could be just the start to a remarkable year of bad weather. Next up: drought. Read full New York Times article here.
Many hydrologists, as well as other scientists, have understood that the region has been long overdue for another serious drought. And the current drought could become much worse — it began only about a year ago, and past droughts in the area have lasted up to nine years. The benefit of a drought might be that residents of the Hill Country resolve to create a long-term plan to prevent such situations in the future. It will take many people working together to achieve this. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Range conditions, which have barely received five inches of rain since September 2010, have prompted Fredericksburg area cattle, sheep and goat producers to make some tough decisions about whether to keep their livestock and continue hoping for rain or to cut their losses by selling off all or part of their herds now. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.
The Texas drought has escalated into a significant natural disaster. Around the Panhandle, normally one of the most agriculturally productive regions of the state, acres of dry dirt fill would-be croplands. Lakes' levels are falling statewide. Cities are tightening water restrictions, amid the driest October-through-June stretch in Texas history. So what can the government do to help those who are hit hardest? Not much, at the state level, experts say. Read full Texas Tribune article here.
Texas is now nine months into one of the worst droughts in recorded state history, and it shows no signs of abating. That's bad news for city dwellers who must use ever less water for their lawns, but it's worse for many wildlife and fish, which find their habitats drying up. Read full Texas Tribune article here.
When drought hits Kendall County, trucker Troy Immel stops hauling milk. “In the short term, water is more profitable,” he said from the cab of his Kenworth tractor that pulls a 6,000-gallon tank. Working 12 hours or more a day, including weekends and holidays, Immel struggles to meet the growing demand for water in the Hill Country caused by a drop in production from wells drilled in the Trinity Aquifer. Read full SA Express article and watch video here.
Llano is entirely dependent on its namesake river for its community water supply. If the river stops flowing altogether — which could happen sometime next month — the city has estimated, conservatively, that it has 60 to 90 days of water storage in its reservoir, city manager Finley deGraffenried told the Tribune. Read the full Texas Tribune article here.
"Measured inflows from October 2010 through May 2011 have been the lowest for that eight-month period since the record began in 1942." Maps and statistics published by the LCRA illustrate the seriousness of our conditions.
Drought will cause $3 billion loss in Texas CRAWFORD, Texas - It looks like harvest time in Texas, but for fourth-generation farmer Bert Gohlke it's actually a financial disaster. His potential losses? More than a quarter of a million dollars - but that's just a fraction of the $3 billion the historic drought will cost Texas farmers and ranchers. Click here for CBS News story.
Sixth generation Texan, local columnist, Ed Mergele observes, “We have plowed up the grass lands, we have drilled holes to drain the aquifers that took thousands of years to fill, we have built millions of structures, roads, and parking lots over the once porous soil, so that the aquifers cannot possibly refill, and worst of all we have overpopulated an area that cannot support us.” Click here to read Ed’s column recently featured in the Hill Country Weekly.
This week The Texas Tribune is featuring the five part series about the LCRA,Water Fight, about the devastating drought’s affect on the diverse interests in the Highland Lakes. “Three major power plants are using about 45 percent more water now versus two years ago.”
Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board issues a frightening report about our water future. It's usually met with uncomprehending shrugs. The next report likely won't vary much from the last one — which found that 85 percent of Texans won't have adequate water in a drought by 2060 unless we come up with $30.7 billion worth of new water projects (although preliminary reports indicate the cost will be substantially higher). Read full SA Express-News article here.
On the cliffs surrounding Central Texas’ large Lake Buchanan, a white ring extends some 13 feet above the shoreline, marking where the water reaches when the lake is full. At nearby Lake Travis, staircases that once led to the water’s edge now end well above it. These two lakes serve as key water sources for dozens of cities and hundreds of farmers, as well as for several power plants. Read more from Texas Tribune here.
The lack of water and insects means many songbird chicks may die from lack of nutrition. Many parent songbirds may be dangerously weakened from lack of food before their migratory journey south in a few months. Read more from SA Express-News here.
The persistent drought has caused record declines in water tables in Kendall County, which gets its water from the Trinity Aquifer, and prompted one utility there to prohibit all outdoor watering. Read more from SA Express-News here.
Texas residents are asked to monitor and reduce their water usage, yet home and land owners may feel they have little control over resource conservation when it comes to manicured lawns and upkeep of green spaces. They may have heard of alternative gardening as a way to cut costs and save water, but may not know where to turn for advice or information. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife here.
With little prospect for rain in the foreseeable future, additional reductions in pumping from the Edwards Aquifer appear to be imminent, according to information presented Tuesday to the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors during its monthly meeting. In a report to the board, Authority staff indicated that soaring temperatures and the continued lack of rain are likely to result in further drought-induced pumping restrictions for Edwards Aquifer users across the region. Read more
At their June 13th, 2011 Board Meeting, the Cow Creek GCD’s Board of Directors moved from Drought Stage 4 - Severe Drought to Drought Stage 5 - Extreme Drought. General Manager Micah Voulgaris recommended the move, citing the lack of rainfall, historic lows in several of the District's monitor wells and the extremely low stream flow levels in the Guadalupe River. here.
As of Wednesday, the Llano River, which normally courses through town at 158 cubic feet per second this time of year, was flowing at 3.8 cubic feet per second — the slowest since 1953, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The river is the city's sole source of drinking water. Read full Statesman.com article here.
The water in the San Marcos River and Barton Springs may be more closely related than previously thought. It's long been believed that an underground divide separates the water flowing from two springs, but a new study has found that's not always the case. "The assumption was whatever happens in the San Antonio segment of the Edwards Aquifer doesn't really impact what's going on at Barton Springs and vice versa,” Todd Votteler with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority said. “But the study shows that's not necessarily true during these really serious droughts." Read full YNN story here.
In December, the old Gillespie County rancher looked back over the previous three months when less than a half-inch of rain had fallen on his land and said, “Surely things will get better soon.”...Over the past month, the county has slipped from moderate to severe drought status, according to the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index monitored by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District headquartered in Fredericksburg. Full article from here.
Texas' farmers and ranchers are coping with their eighth drought in the past 13 years, and this one, while still young, has a chance of slamming producers with their biggest losses ever, officials said. Read full SA Express article here.
In the latest sign of how dry the recent drought has been, Lower Colorado River Authority officials announced Wednesday that the flow of water from streams and creeks into the Colorado River over the past six months is worse than any similar period during the worst-ever drought. Read more from Statesman.com here.
At their April 11th Regular Meeting, the Board of Directors of the Cow Creek GCD voted unanimously to move from Stage 3 - Moderate Drought to Stage 4 - Severe Drought. General Manager Micah Voulgaris noted lack of rainfall, decline in water levels in 30 of the District’s monitor wells, below average stream flow in the Guadalupe River, and the seasonal increase in outdoor lawn irrigation as reasons for the move to Stage 4. Read more
With the lower Colorado River basin in the early stages of another drought, LCRA is offering two new ways for customers and the public to stay up to date on the drought. LCRA has created a web page to provide easy access to information and an e-newsletter to provide the latest drought news. Read more
Scarcely a year after one drought ended, another has gripped Central Texas. Parts or all of Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties are in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federally funded service that tracks conditions across the country. Read full Statesman.com article here.
State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon told the Houston Chronicle that continuing dry weather is likely to persist at least into the spring. Nielsen-Gammon, who's also a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, says "it's probably going to get worse before it gets better." Read full Statesman.com article here.
Learn more from the Texas Drought Project
In Blanco County, we know what drought looks like. It looks like last summer, when creeks and ponds dried up and the grass went "crunch" under foot. What we see now, after six months of rain, is gorgeous green...full ponds, running streams, a record wildflower year, and even a little flash flooding this spring. Drought doesn't look like this. Last week, the forecasters said El Nino definitely is fading, and predicted a return to drought conditions within a few months. Read more here.
Despite scattered rainfall, the Colorado River basin remains in a severe drought that is affecting water supply, LCRA staff told the Board of Directors this week. As a result, LCRA is considering whether to take additional drought management actions. Read full LCRA media release here.
The most severe drought in the nation is drying up one of Austin's most treasured natural resources, the spring-fed Barton Creek Pool where more than 400,000 visitors from around the world flock each year. Read full SA Express story here.
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service and the NRCS office have planned an educational program to be held on September 3 at the Pedernales Electric Coop Auditorium in Johnson City beginning at 6:00pm and concluding by 8:00pm. The program will address options available to cattlemen as they try and make sound management decisions as to what is best for them and the herd, as well as the rangeland. Read full Blanco County News article here.
The drought has gotten so bad in the Hill Country that when the twin grandchildren of Bob Sharpe visit his place near Nutty Brown Road, they have to take an outdoor "cowboy shower" by having grandmother Sue Sharpe dump water on them from a bucket. For three months, his well has been dry, so several times a day, Bob Sharpe steers his blue Chevy pickup to the nearby Cedar Valley Grocery, which gets its water from a Colorado River pipeline, to fill his 200-gallon plastic tank, plus a dozen emptied Newman's Own grape juice jugs strewn across the truck bed. Read full Statesman.com commentary here.
In the United States, we constantly fret about running out of oil. But we should be paying more attention to another limited natural resource: water. A water crisis is threatening many parts of the country -- not just the arid West. Read full article here.
The ongoing drought has kept water not only in the local headlines, but regionally throughout the Hill Country from San Antonio to Austin. As the drought persists, water availability, which by definition of State water planners is “the maximum amount of water available during the drought of record, regardless of whether the supply is physically or legally available”, is being reduced. Read full article here.
After the 1930s and the construction of the massive Highland Lakes, our water supply seemed more or less infinite. Today, with our regional population topping 1.6 million, it is becoming very clear that the reservoirs do indeed have a bottom. Read full Statesman.com commentary here.
Many more people have moved to the Hill Country since the last drought and have substantially increased demand on the water supply. “In some places, we have already exceeded a safe yield - water that is available during a drought,” Read the full article here.
After a wet first half of 2007, why did dry conditions return in late 2007 through early 2009? What are our rainfall prospects for the coming year? What are the long-term trends for rainfall in central Texas? How will global warming affect our rainfall patterns? Read full article by David M. Hillis here.
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is proposing to create a new, extreme stage of drought that would require a 40% cutback in groundwater pumping for all permitted users. The proposal is one of a package of rule changes designed to respond more effectively to extreme and prolonged droughts, and to manage more equitably groundwater resources. Read full release here.
At the next turn of the century, with the Austin area looking something like today's Houston, Travis County will see a near-tripling in water demand. Williamson and Hays counties will require four or five times as much water as they do now, as our descendants will need water to drink, to bathe and to wash clothes and dishes. And on the Gulf end of the Colorado River, in Matagorda County, demand for water will roughly triple with new power plants requiring it to help cool their systems and power their turbines. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Each day without rain, the sparkling water of Medina Lake recedes farther from the homes at its edge, forcing those who take a dip to traverse a dusty moonscape of rocks and docks left high and dry. Across the region as water dwindles in lakes, rivers and wells, communities are hoping to avoid a repeat of conditions seen decades ago. Read full SA Express-News article here.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority today declared stage two of the region’s critical period management plan, further limiting how much groundwater can be pumped from the Edwards Aquifer across a seven-county area of south-central Texas. Citing declining aquifer levels that are the result of a continuing drought and seasonal demand on the aquifer, the Authority declared stage two for Edwards groundwater users within the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer region. Read full media release here.
Groundwater users in the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District expressed concerns about groundwater supplies holding up if the current Critical Stage drought worsens. The District held town two hall meetings on June 2 and June 8 in Sunset Valley and Buda to review and get feedback on proposed rule changes that would better prepare the District to regulate and conserve groundwater resources during extreme drought. Read full release here.
Return to Drought
As we continue our outreach program to encourage night sky friendly lighting in the Hill Country, we are pulling Bill Wren away from his duties at the McDonald Observatory once again. Join us for a screening of the film The City Dark followed by a presentation by Bill Wren, Dec. 11 in Bee Cave and Dec. 12 in Mason. Learn more about protecting the night sky here.
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) began serving the citizens of Texas under a new management structure with three full-time Board members. Between that time and the successful passage of Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, both the new Board members and agency staff have been hard at work preparing to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and to respond to other new legislation. Read More
Tune in as Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune hosts a conversation with two Hill Country legislators, Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Jason Isaac. Learn More
Mirroring trends seen elsewhere in the nation, Texans living in urban areas are driving less, according to a report from think tank TexPIRG. The report’s authors say the decreased driving trend means that policymakers should be shifting infrastructure funding priorities away from road projects and into alternative modes of transportation. Read full article from Austin Business Journal.
Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest place in the U.S. but the Hill Country is quickly losing the night, “...much outdoor lighting used at night is wildly inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, completely unnecessary.” Read this story published in the December issue of Men’s Journal featuring HCA Night Sky Team member and frequent guest speaker Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory.
In a series of three guest blogs, Sharlene Leurig, Water Program Director for Ceres, examines the details of Proposition 6, the water project financing measure approved by Texas voters on November 5th. Proposition 6 amends the Texas constitution to appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to seed a new water infrastructure loan fund directed to water supply projects included in the State Water Plan. Click here to read.
Across the Hill Country, other aquifers, which provide vital spring water for many rivers, are very low and many of their springs and seeps have dried up. These aquifer-fed springs are not only key to local ranchers, but to maintaining river flows in the upper Nueces, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins. Read full article by Mike Mecke in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
Second in five part series by Texas Tribune: "Like any natural resource, the precious groundwater that flows under Texas’ land does not follow political boundaries. The state is home to nine major and 21 minor aquifers, some of which stretch across the entire state and have segments with wildly different hydrologic properties. Yet at a time when thirsty cities and industries are clamoring for groundwater more than ever, the resource is regulated by nearly 100 entities drawn along political boundaries such as county lines, in part because groundwater is considered a private property right in Texas." Read more from Texas Tribune.
Bob Webster, a staunch advocate of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District tapped to fill vacancy on Board of Directors. Webster, the "public" at nearly all of the GCD meetings, is the host of The Garden Show on KTSA AM 550 San Antonio and serves as an advisory board member of the Hill Country Alliance. Learn more from the Boerne Star.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries and State Parks divisions have partnered with other private groups to develop habitat enhancement projects to improve fishing opportunities at Inks Lake the past three years. More from TPWD.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is the only state agency with a dedicated sales tax. Under state law, a portion of the sales tax on sporting goods is meant to go for parks. But lawmakers consistently divert some of that money to balance the state budget. Read more from StateImpact.
The mayor of Del Rio told San Antonio Water System trustees Monday that his city would use every legal means to block a proposed plan to pipe billions of gallons of water from Southwest Texas to San Antonio. The proposal, made by the V.V. Water Co., would send enough water for more than 150,000 households per year from drought-weary Val Verde County to SAWS by 2018. Red more from SA Express-News.
The mood was grim among folks from Bay City, Eagle Lake and other coastal communities today as the Lower Colorado River Authority board voted 8-7 in favor of an emergency proposal that will likely cut off water to rice farmers for the third year in a row. Read the full article from the Texas Observer. View Sierra Club's comments and press statement for the November 19 LCRA meeting.
Unlike surface water, which is owned and allocated by the state, groundwater belongs to the landowner and is regulated by nearly 100 different conservation districts across Texas, all of which set their own rules. The recent drought, along with major court decisions, has led to what some say is the most uncertain time in state history for those who depend on and manage groundwater in Texas. Read the first of this five-part series from the Texas Tribune.
The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently released an updated version of its popular report on desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and surface water. Desalination: Is It Worth Its Salt? is a basic primer on desalination written for the general public. The report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas. Read More
Now leading one of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s top five most-visited parks, Doug Cochran sees challenges and opportunities in managing Enchanted Rock State Natural Area’s 1,600-plus acres, which includes the iconic, 640-acre granite dome outcropping. Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.
With groundwater and surface water treated as two independent water supplies under Texas law, it can be tricky to plan for our future generations. Citizen involvement is essential to achieving fair policy to sustain our water supply, a shared resource. A great place to learn is the Texas Living Waters Project - Tune in.
Attendees of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association's annual conference gathered at Austin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a rainwater harvesting tour and discussion. The tour was hosted by Quality Control Steel who donated a 3000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank to the school. Learn More
The case for County Authority is made once again on the edge of Austin and Bee Cave. With little county power to deal with intensity and location of development, planning can be left to the utility. More than a hundred residents showed up at City Hall to express concerns about water, traffic and quality of life issues. Learn More
Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56 percent of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. Read More
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the state water plan is groundwater regulation. Almost every region in Texas plans to look below the surface for more water supplies. But many water suppliers, including those that serve Austin and San Antonio, are battling for the right to pump groundwater outside their own jurisdiction. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, will present the inaugural Texas Water Journal Forum, “Water, Politics and Drought,” Nov. 21 in Austin. Learn More
Environmental leaders call on water board to focus Prop 6 money on conservation and avoid projects harmful to rivers. “The State of Texas has consistently declined to implement common sense approaches to to maintain in-stream flows to the bays and estuaries - to the point where coastal ecosystems are now in peril,” said Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.” Read the story from Environment Texas.
As water becomes scarcer in Central Texas and the thirst for it is on the rise, property owners in Rollingwood are requesting permission to drill a well and pump 913,400 gallons of water per year for their home. More from Hays Free Press.
“We’re dealing with so many water challenges in the state, particularly here in the Hill Country. There are a lot of unknowns like how to solve the complex water problems and rainwater harvesting is just a simple thing people can be doing to take the stress off of our aquifers.” Read the full Boerne Star article.
With what has been described as the worst drought in recorded history punishing parts of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott found a way to keep watering his yard without risking fines or incurring huge monthly bills: He drilled his own well. Austin has no power to stop landowners from drilling water underneath their own terrain in pro-property-rights Texas. It can only monitor the proliferation of private wells, which Jason Hill, an Austin Water Utility spokesman, said officials are doing “vigorously.” More from the Texas Tribune
Henly is not so much a town as a collection of farmers and ranchers along U.S. 290 between Dripping Springs and Johnson City. Community life revolves around volunteer fire department barbecues and services at the Henly Baptist Church. The unincorporated town, which has more livestock than people, doesn’t have so much as a traffic light or a gas station. More from Statesman.com.
Texas Green Network is hosting an event in Austin, November 21st to examine next steps related to Prop 6. What does this mean for conservation? How do these funds get prioritized? How does this affect the business community? Details
“Parks and recreation won big on the ballot this week,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “At a time when many parks are suffering and natural areas are quickly being eaten up by sprawl, millions of Texans put their money where their mouth is and made a big investment in green spaces, water quality, ball fields, bike trails and in our overall quality of life.” Read the full story.
Scenic Texas announces the appointment of three new Hill Country board members. The new appointments are Kathleen Krueger, Former Mayor Pro-Tem, New Braunfels; Paul Robert Goebel, Associate Dean at Texas Tech University, Lubbock; and Chris Cornwell, former PepsiCo Food Scientist, Canyon Lake. Learn More
Texans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to jump-start financing for water projects in the state: Proposition 6. The plan will take $2 billion in surplus state money (from the Rainy Day Fund) to start a low-interest loan program for water projects in Texas. The measure had widespread support from both sides of the aisle as well as business and environmental groups. It passed with over 73 percent of the vote. More from State Impact.
It might have been a clear, crisp fall day in Boerne, but inside the Boerne Civic Center it was raining a solid schedule of rainwater harvesting information at the 4th annual Rainwater Revival. This Hill Country Alliance (HCA) event brought together a full day’s schedule of rainwater experts and professionals to teach and demonstrate a sure way to end all your water woes. Read the full story in the Rivard Report.
The new CAMPO website features a pretty bluebonnet-lined Hill Country road on the cover, what are we doing to protect this vision? A new video featuring CAMPO leaders kicks off a new public input vehicle - Mind Mixer. What’s important to you as we grow this region? Quality of life, clean water, natural resource protection, open spaces, rail and bike options? Let CAMPO know.
The choice for cities facing water shortages now or in the future is clear: invest in expensive new water supplies or invest in programs to reduce water use, including outdoor water use. Several smart Texas cities chose the latter. San Antonio Water System provides rebates to customers who agree to reduce their turf grass and to replace it with plants from an approved drought-tolerant plant list. More from texaslivingwaters.org.
Now is the time because current enhanced tax incentives expire Dec 31. Rules regarding amount of the deduction and the number of years you can take the deduction are about to change. Contact your local land trust for more information. Learn about conservation easements and land trusts working in the Hill Country here.
December 5 in Wimberley – Open House to discuss four-lane divided parkway between Wimberley and San Marcos - Details
December 6 in Uvalde - Star Party at Fort Inge - Details
December 16-18 in San Antonio - Clean Air through Energy Efficiency Conference and Business Expo - Details
The 2014 HCA Calendar is on sale!
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