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.
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
The first Texas Water Symposium of 2014 will feature a conversation between Hill Country landowners and water experts about the Pedernales River. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, land fragmentation and changing land uses, understanding the impact of land and water management on the health of our rivers and their associated catchment areas is essential. Find out more.
The San Antonio Water System board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund Phase I construction of a brackish water desalination plant in southern Bexar County – the most ambitious water diversification project in the city’s history – and enter negotiations with the Vista Ridge Consortium to provide San Antonio with an even greater supply of new water via a privately-owned regional pipeline, a second diversification project of unprecedented scope and cost. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region. Join us Friday, April 25th for a day of learning at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. Click here to learn more and register online.
Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Preservation Texas, Most Endangered Place list. Some wonderful places in the Hill Country already grace this list including the Spettel Riverside House in Bandera County, The Old Llano County Jail, Hamilton Pool, Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor and statewide, Texas Dance Halls! The deadline is fast approaching, March 21st, take it upon yourself to nominate an iconic Hill Country treasure. Learn More
Hill Country-area artists and landowners are invited to join together to promote conservation of the region’s natural resources during “Art and Conservation: Our Hidden Treasures,” a collaboration between the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm and the Hill Country Council for the Arts. Learn More
"The ag ombudsman is helping us spread the word to rural communities about the SWIFT and the benefits it will offer to those communities," says TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "His effort is a critical part of our SWIFT outreach and our outreach on many other programs." Read More
Promoting Solar, Electric Vehicle charging stations, Zero Waste, Bicycling, Water Efficiency… Fredericksburg SHINES is striving to make Fredericksburg become the most sustainable community in Texas! Read their most recent newsletter and get involved.
The Medina Lake Preservation Society (MLPS) has invited officials from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to speak with LakePlex citizens about drought assistance availability for communities and individual well owners. Details
Droughts are too often viewed as local disasters. The historic drought gripping California, which grows more than 90% of the country's almonds, broccoli, grapes and tomatoes, reminds us that in today's global economy, the economic repercussions of water scarcity ripple far beyond any single state. In California, as in Texas, drought has provoked a conversation on how to invest in more secure water supplies--but for both states, drought is just a preview of water shortages that are likely to persist, and which are driven by the choices we make around water use. In both states, systemic water scarcity requires a serious examination of how we manage water and how we value it. Read more from HCA Board Member, Sharlene Leurig.
Commissioners seemed to agree they don’t have much chance of preventing the pit, even though it is in the 100-year floodplain, where land modifications require the county’s approval. The county must approve the proposal if the company submits plans to the county indicating the new pit won’t cause sedimentation in the river. Read more from Sean Batura at the Kerrville Daily Times.
Cow Creek Groundwater District Directors Milan J. Michalec and Bob Webster will present a program about Groundwater in the Texas Hill Country on Thursday evening, March 20. This informative program focuses on the many misconceptions people have about our groundwater, the aquifers that contain it, and the laws that regulate it's withdrawal and use. Learn More
Who is in charge at the San Antonio Water System as major water supply policies are about to be set for the next decade and beyond? The answer, for the moment, is evident only to a handful of senior SAWS executives, board trustees, city officials and business leaders. Read more from the Rivard Report.
San Antonio and Austin are separated by roughly 80 miles and receive an average of about 32 inches of rain each year. They sit just east of the 100th Meridian, which is often considered the divide between east and west where the plentiful rainfall greening the east quickly becomes the arid desert of the interior west. Read more from Climate Central.
Speakers will highlight real life examples from around the country where initiatives such as investing in scenic roadways and tree lined parkways, promoting corporate visual responsibility, defining design standards and prohibiting new billboards has created increased market value for real estate, expanded tourism and enhanced neighborhood livability and quality of life. Learn More
What’s your view of Hill Country Stewardship? HCA is seeking photographs that tell the story of our region’s stewardship ethic for publication in its 2015 calendar. The Texas Hill Country is a cherished place, yet it is threatened by land fragmentation, over-allocated rivers and aquifers, incompatible land development practices and a lack of understanding about appropriate stewardship. Read More
How are the city’s current policies affecting water quality and supply? How do the city’s growth strategies impact our water security measures? Do these efforts complement or conflict with each other? And most importantly, how are ratepayers impacted? A full transcript of Nirenberg’s keynote to the Resilience Conference are posted on the Rivard Report. His must read request to Council related to the Edwards Aquifer and Water Supply Planning can be read here.
Hays County is gambling one million tax payer dollars a year on our water future. Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) believes our elected officials need to show the taxpayers of Hays County that this is a sound bet, not wasted tax money that will never hold water. Read more from CARD.
“We look at the climate science that warns that Austin faces serious water supply problems, and at the roles played by transportation planning and suburban sprawl in that crisis…Is the CAMPO 2040 Plan smart planning, or does it more closely resemble a real estate Ponzi scheme?” Read more from Roger Baker.
"The MUD needs the pipeline to get Canyon Lake water to Lerin Hills, where 1,475 homes — plus businesses, parks and a school — are proposed.” Read more from SA Express-News.
The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), a non-profit land conservation group headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, recently welcomed several new board and committee members: Steve Nelle, Jill Nokes, Kassi Sheffer, Floyd Trefny, Mike Krueger and Ernest Smith. The Hill Country Land Trust is delighted and proud to add such prestigious and hard-working individuals to their all-volunteer board. Learn More
The Meadows Center for Water & the Environment at Texas State University is inviting kayakers and canoeists to join the Texas Stream Team, a citizen science program that has been monitoring the quality of Texas waterways since 1991. Learn more about opportunities for students, educators, outdoor enthusiasts to get out on the river and work on one of the most important issues of our time: Water.
State photographer Wyman Meinzer has been selected as the keynote speaker for the Bennett Trust Land Stewardship educational program, “Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau,” to be hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service April 23-25 in Kerrville. Read More
The amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes in January was the lowest for that month since the 1950s. The lower Colorado River basin is in its seventh year of a severe drought, and the Highland Lakes remain near historic low levels...Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the region's major reservoirs, now hold about 762,000 acre-feet, or 38 percent of capacity. Read more from the LCRA.
With the enactment of the Agriculture Act of 2014, known to most of us as the Farm Bill, landowners have more certainty about the availability of federal funds for conservation on farm and ranch lands. The Farm Bill provides up to $57 billion dollars over the next five years to support a variety of rural land conservation activities, including the dedication of conservation easements, and eliminates some of the complexity of the varied conservation programs. Read more from Braun & Gresham.
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site presents a day of family fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, featuring adventure and hands-on experiences for all ages. Representatives from a dozen central Texas state parks and state natural areas will be on hand to showcase the area’s rich natural and cultural resources. Learn More
The National Park Service, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program is working on trail projects throughout Texas including urban trails in Austin and San Antonio and the Llano River Biodiversity trail at Texas Tech University in Junction. Learn More
Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is hosting a discussion about the implementation of historic legislation creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). This discussion is the third of several meetings that TWDB is hosting related to prospective rulemaking for House Bill 4, 83rd Texas Legislature. Learn More
The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. This hands-on learning activity is designed for schools, students, communities and families. The more participation we inspire in the Hill Country the better data we’ll have for our region. It’s easy, learn more at www.globeatnight.org
“How much IS too much?” Is the rate of growth northwest of San Antonio undermining the good efforts of land conservation investment over the aquifer recharge area? These tough questions are explored in the new documentary film project, Water Blues. View clips by location or issue and pass along to others.
“A wonderful diversity of native plants is found on this property, and many years of excellent wildlife and range management by the owners is evident,” says HCLT President, Katherine Peake. “But even more exciting to us is that this property contains habitat of the Golden-cheeked Warbler. We consider this easement one of HCLT’s crown jewels.” Read More
Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is hosting a discussion about the implementation of historic legislation creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). This discussion is the third of several meetings that TWDB is hosting related to prospective rulemaking for House Bill 4, 83rd Texas Legislature. Learn More
Every year, water experts from over 13 agencies in Central Texas combine forces to take 50 teachers to the aquatic hotspots in and around Austin. We go caving, canoeing, hiking, and splash in streams--all in the name of science. It is the most fun, free way to earn 22 continuing education credits. Dip your hands into local water topics and try activities that help bring those topics back to your classroom. Visit the Groundwater to the Gulf Registration page for more details including photos from years past, registration link, and sponsor info. Learn More
The stars at night remain big and bright deep in the heart of the Texas – thanks to the hard work and dedication of Texas Hill Country residents. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced today it has designated the first International Dark Sky Community in Texas. “Dripping Springs joins a select club as the world’s sixth Dark Sky Community,” said IDA Ex-ecutive Director Bob Parks. Read More
“Springs occur where groundwater from saturated aquifers escapes to the surface, usually amid exposed and broken rock along fault lines, such as the 300 mile “spring line” along the Balcones Escarpment in Central Texas... Springs form the headwaters of some of Texas’s rivers and streams, and many provide crucial seasonal or year-round flow.” Learn more about water in Texas from this recent issue of Texas Wildlife.
Randall Arendt will be back in Austin May 16 for this full day of Conservation Development education. The program also features a low impact development presentation by Karen Bishop of the San Antonio River Authority and a panel discussion with city planners, land developers, and landscape architects to discuss key opportunities and challenges to implementing conservation design in Central Texas. Learn More
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is accepting applications for its 2014 New Land Owners Series (NLOS), which will take place in Blanco, Kendall, Kerr and Gillespie Counties in Texas Hill Country. Participants in the program will hear from Extension experts in various fields about best management practices they can implement on their own property. The series will consist of 6 program meetings, beginning March 21. Learn More
“Kudos are due to SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente for choosing a closer-to-home strategy that, along with continued efficiency improvements, will help the City meet its water needs far into the future. Here is hoping that the SAWS board and the Mayor give full support to this sensible approach. But, in the press release announcing the decision, SAWS expressed concern about the role of groundwater districts…” Read more from Mary Kelly, Texas Center for Policy Studies. Hill Country GCD’s need to protect spring flow.
“…mine are not views of water issues as seen through a politician’s, chambers of commerce’ or developers’ rose colored glasses. Water is too critical and too big an issue to play games with in giving the citizens the facts.” Read more from the Hill Country’s Mike Mecke, published in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
“The chairmanship is a posting that could easily tumble into cynicism, to the knowing feeling that despite legislative assurances that portions of the water money will be used for the sort of conservation project that Delia, the 9-year-old girl, favors, most of it will benefit the engineering, real estate and lobbying firms that have the most to gain from massive water projects.” Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman.
Pay attention to what’s happening in California - "17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. 'I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,' said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies." Read more from the NY Times here.
“This place – along with other sanctuaries for nature and people – gives me hope that we can live in harmony with our surroundings, if we work together to learn about our history and the wonders of the natural world, and embrace the communities in which we live.” Read Cheyenne Johnson’s story recently published in the Rivard Report here.
In a striking show of bi-partisanship, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to support the 2014 Farm Bill. The final vote was 251 - 166. The legislation will generate more than one billion dollars for saving endangered farm and ranch lands. The bill is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President shortly. More from Land Trust Alliance.
Bandera County Water Awareness Series will hold it’s first event March 21-22 at the Mansfield Park Recreational Hall. The free workshop is open to anyone interested in water related issues in the Bandera region. Learn More
A controversial groundwater pumping plan that opponents argue could threaten the lower Rio Grande's already depleted supply is highlighting a conundrum in Texas water law. Texas rivers and springs are considered the property of the state, while water flowing below ground belongs to individual landowners. But many of the state's surface water resources, from Barton Springs to the Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers, are fed in large part by groundwater. Read the full story from the Texas Tribune.
For six years, New Braunfels has tried to keep rowdy tubers from tossing trash into its rivers with a series of ordinances barring them from floating through town with coolers larger than 16 quarts or from carrying disposable bottles and cans. Now, a judge has sunk the effort, the latest blow to the city's attempts to regulate water recreation that can draw tens of thousands of tourists to the Comal and Guadalupe rivers on any busy summer weekend. More from SA Express-News. Support the Ban” activists are urging an appeal; Learn how to be involved here.
“Many landowners, whether retiring from a lifelong career of farming or inheriting land from parents who farmed, want to leave a legacy of conservation and sustainable agriculture. As a landowner, you may be looking for ways to pass on the farm to a farmer and/or new owner who shares this vision. For retiring farmers and off-farm landowners alike, there are many ways to do this, depending on the value and priorities of the particular landowner.” An excellent resource from NCAT.
On January 21st the Hays County Commissioners Court discussed creation of a Hays County Rainwater Initiative Fund, the Hays “RAIN” Fund. The proposal authored by Commissioner Ray Whisenant would create a revolving loan fund that would be available to Hays County citizens for installation of systems to collect, store and use rainwater that would result in a reduction in the use of groundwater. Learn More
The challenges and opportunities in brackish groundwater desalination as a source of future water supply in Texas have been receiving considerable attention lately. With a Joint Interim Committee on Desalination, Senate Natural Resources Committee interim charges that include desalination, and a new Texas Desalination Association, this area will continue to be a hot topic. Read more from the Texas Center for Policy Studies blog.
The State Comptroller’s Office released “Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution” earlier this month. The report demonstrates the value of conservation investments and innovation in water research and technology. A website was also launched to compliment the report and provide ongoing education about water use- some great thoughts here worth reading: http://www.txwaterreport.org.
“Local conservation districts, democratic institutions that allow regional interests to control their own fate, should be permitted to continue their work. But they must be empowered by the Legislature to do their jobs properly, which will never happen as long as private property rights are allowed to trump all other considerations.” Read the full story from Texas Monthly.
The disastrous chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia's water supply reinforced the value of harvesting rainwater to provide distributed sources of safe water. Read More
In this exclusive premiere of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) mini-documentary “Dealing with Drought,” diverse Edwards Aquifer permit holders share their stories of resilience and conservation practices. More from the Rivard Report.
Last fall the Llano River Field Station (the Station) at the Texas Tech University (TTU) Center in Junction received a grant for $230,000 from the Office of the Texas Comptroller for an alternative energy demonstration project. The renewable energy devices have been installed and are now generating electricity for two buildings on the Junction campus. Learn More
The bulk of the western Texas Hill Country lies in House District 53, Representative Harvey Hilderbran’s seat since 1992. Three candidates are running in the Republican Primary. “Murr acknowledged the diversity of the region: “Different growing regions, different sources of income and use of the land, but overall the perspective, the composition, the people remain the same. They’re conservative and independent-minded.” Read the Texas Tribune story here.
A bid by San Antonio's water utility to declare ownership of the sewage it treats and releases has sparked a regional tug-of-war — one that could become more common as Texas' thirsty water users struggle to protect their supplies. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
Five U.S. communities have been designated “Promise Zones” by HUD and USDA including San Antonio’s east side. These communities will benefit from a comprehensive approach to development that will enhance and connect local assets ranging from schools to housing to jobs. Learn More
Imagine a water management strategy that would accommodate growth and development without unsustainably pumping down aquifers or incurring the huge expense and societal disruption to build reservoirs or transport water from remote supplies to developing areas. Welcome to the concept of Zero Net Water. Read more from waterblogue.com.
The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) is one of four organizations to receive the Department of Interior's Partner in Conservation Award. EARIP's Habitat Conservation Plan, approved in 2013, was created to ensure that the Comal and San Marcos springs will continue to flow and that species such as the fountain darter and Texas blind salamander will survive even if Texas experiences yet another significant drought. Learn More
Sustainable residential landscapes can have a positive impact on the environmental health and human well-being of an entire region, promoting clean air and water, fertile soils and other essential aspects of daily life. To help homeowners create and maintain landscapes that are both beautiful and sustainable, the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm will offer a five-part workshop on Landscape for Life from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays from Feb. 18 through March 18. Find out more.
Many eyes are on SAWS in the weeks ahead as decisions are made about regional water supply, i.e. bringing in water from outside of Bexar County. One of the three proposals being considered is from a water marketer seeking to pump and pipe 150,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer in Val Verde county to San Antonio, San Angelo and other western cities. The Devils River Conservancy and numerous others have sprung into action in opposition to water export in the region that could have serious consequences to inflows of the Devils River, Amistad Reservoir and the Rio Grande below. Get facts here. Read HCA comments to SAWS and the City of San Antonio here. "Opposition Grows to Val Verde Water Plan." Read more from SA Express-News here.
Important commitments for rainwater harvesting, night sky lighting, drainage and other considerations, make this new HEB in one of the Hill Country's most charming communities more tolerable. City Council meets Thursday, January 16th, learn more from Hays County's Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development here.
“Groundwater resources are not only reflective of water levels in wells, but also of the health of seeps, springs, creeks, and rivers. As of today, many, if not most, of these resources in the Texas Hill Country are in pitiful condition, if not completely dry.” Read the details from David K. Langford.
All of the advocacy outreach opposing the Crescent Hills project adjacent to Bracken Bat Cave has paid off, Stratford Land officially declined to purchase the property. “Meanwhile, a coalition of conservation groups and local officials worried about the impact of development on the bats and the land remains interested in buying the 1,545-acre parcel and still is trying to raise money.” Read more from the San Antonio Express here. GEAA is helping rally support for this conservation opportunity, read GEAA’s recent outreach communication here and find out how you can help.
“We are excited about helping landowners protect their piece of Texas. In doing so, we believe other parts of the state will also benefit.” The first educational efforts to be made through the Bennett endowment will be the “Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau” conference, April 23-25 in Kerrville. Learn More
It’s full steam ahead for San Antonio 2030 District organizers after January 10th's successful district launch party. Architecture 2030 is a nonprofit that challenges cities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from building operations via energy-saving design and planning tactics. Read the full story from the Rivard Report.
The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), a non-profit land conservation group headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, announced recently that Martha Zeiher has been named its first executive director, effective January 1, 2014. Learn More
Enjoy the regional premier of the movie WATERSHED, to be followed by a panel discussion featuring international water policy experts. The evening will feature discussion of drought and water policy in Texas and around the world. Sponsored by the Paramount Theatre and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. Learn more and purchase tickets here.
Landowners who have an agricultural tax valuation on their property and are interested in managing their land for wildlife are invited to attend a three-part seminar, beginning January 11, to prepare a management plan and application for a wildlife management tax valuation from the State of Texas, sponsored by the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Learn More
Think of our scenic Hill Country roads as you read this story of rural character preservation from Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Gazette.
When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses. But now, there's a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity. Read more from NPR.
“Terrell Graham and his wife’s family have owned their ranch in the Texas Hill Country for over 100 years. It’s remained a working farm and cattle ranch, and now Texas state government is stealing their land so private developers can discharge treated sewage from 1,500 new homes into the Lux family’s dry creek bed.” Link to this alarming article by Terry Hall here. Direct discharge permits are an issue of concern for water quality in the Hill Country. The Belterra permit in Hays County was legally challenged and ultimately revised for the better. Highland Lakes residents beat a discharge permit in 2009. And currently The City of Dripping Springs in Hays County is preparing to file for a direct discharge permit into Onion Creek. More on this issue on our Water Quality page.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Texas Water Star Program will hold an Earth-Kind landscaping workshop Feb. 14, 2014, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. “The Earth-Kind techniques that will be covered are research-proven and are designed to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while showing how to preserve and protect the environment.” Learn More
To understand the level of crisis facing the Lower Colorado River Authority, look no further than the three-page job description the agency has drafted in its search for a new general manager. Read more from Texas Tribune.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries will be stocking 2,400 rainbow trout into the Llano River near Castell, Texas, on December 18, 2013. This site is a recent addition to the popular winter trout program which provides Texans a unique fishing opportunity during the winter months. Read more from TPWD.
The Texas Tribune examines Texas’ major rivers, all of them threatened by drought, climate change and rapid population growth. Link to the full series and interactive map here. Or, link directly to the story related to a specific Hill Country basin; Colorado, Devils, Guadalupe, San Saba. This valuable series will continue so stay tuned for more revealing reporting from the Texas Tribune.
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) is now soliciting applications and essays for the 2014 Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest through Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The essay contest is open to high school juniors, seniors, and immediate graduates who reside in the Austin, Eanes, Dripping Springs, Hays Consolidated, Del Valle, and Lockhart school districts. Learn More
Neighbors are keeping a watchful eye to make sure the agreement LCRA made as they began expanding waterlines along 290 and then along Hamilton Pool Road stays put. Read the story in Impact News here. Read the full MOU in question here. More insight can be found at www.HPRMatters.com.
A Hill Country Christmas tradition started by President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and his family more than four decades ago will continue this Sunday, Dec. 15, in Stonewall. Johnson’s descendants are expected to join with visitors for the 44th Annual LBJ Christmas Tree Lighting and Evening Tours at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site, off U.S. Highway 290. Details
Government Canyon State Natural Area in west Bexar County, which is typically only open to the public Fridays through Mondays, will be open daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6 throughout the upcoming holiday season. Additional camping nights during the Christmas holidays will be offered. Learn More
Topics include conservation easement negotiation and amendment, bridge financing and other conservation funding issues, Texas water policy, legal issues, endangered species, conservation easement appraisals, conservation on agricultural lands, public-private partnerships for conservation, and much more. Learn More
"The lighting systems are visible for miles around and produce a substantial amount of sky glow and light pollution... It is essentially impossible to mitigate the impact these types of facilities have on the surrounding areas.” This is a significant issue in the Hill Country but it is one that is fairly easy to correct with some cooperation and good neighbor lighting. Learn about Recommended Practice (RP) from the International Dark Sky Association.
Our region is not focused as it once was on Envision Central Texas, a program that was admired nationally for its collaborative nature and “growth centers” concept. Other regions are moving in this direction. Utah for example, is launching a program with a similar focus, “centers would allow people to live, work and play in the same area, and drive less and walk or bike more. It would save billions in roads that would not need to be built, conserve water, reduce air pollution, preserve open space and cut traffic congestion.” Read more from the Salt Lake City Tribune.
As native landscapes disappear, wildlife disappears, and important ecological processes that insure outcomes such as clean drinking water, climate change buffers, and flood control also disappear. Read more from Healthylandandethic.com.
The climate is changing, and Texas is growing. For a bird’s eye view of these developments, NASA has put together a ‘State of Flux‘ image gallery that shows how climate change, urbanization, and natural disasters have changed certain geographic features in Texas, and across the world. The gallery puts two satellite images side-by-side to show the changes. Read more from State Impact Texas.
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 reports 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.
March 7 in Fredericksburg - 2014 New Landowner Series: "Fredericksburg, Introduction, Neighbor Relations, Tax Valuations, Well and Septic Permits, Grazing and Hunting Leases" - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
March 17-23 - National Wildlife Week! "Wildlife and Water: From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans" - National Wildlife Week gives families, educators and community groups the chance to connect kids with wildlife and explore the world around them Details
March 20 in Fredericksburg - Texas Water Symposium - The Pedernales: "Challenges and Opportunities Facing an Iconic Hill Country River Basin" - Details
March 20 in Boerne - Hill Country Water: Myths and Truths - Presented by Cow Creek Groundwater District Directors Milan J. Michalec and Bob Webster - Details
March 21-22 in Bandera - First event in the Bandera County Water Awareness Series - Workshop free and open to the public - Details
March 22 in Johnson City - Master Gardeners of Blanco County host Invaders of Texas Workshop - Details
March 26 in Sequin - Agriculture and Rural Development Workshop - Details
March 26-28 in Fort Worth - Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference - Details
March 29-30 in Stonewall - LBJ 100 Cycling Weekend Details
April 3 in Junction - Multi-County Wildlife Program - Presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
April 4 in Kerrville - 2014 New Landowner Series: "Live Oak Wilt, Home Use Pesticides, Turf, Tree and Landscape Maintenance, Rainwater Harvesting" - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
April 11 in Houston - Scenic America 2014 Conference: How scenic beauty supports economic development, livability and tourism - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
Photo contest begins March 1st!
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool