by David Brown
Chair, Chamber Government Affairs Council
Boerne, TX – August 20, 2012. It’s anyone’s guess. Will the Hill Country be blessed with rains or will we see a repeat of last summer, when Trinity Aquifer wells fell to record low levels and the river’s flow dwindled to almost a trickle? We’re all talking about, reading about it, looking for answers. We already know it’s hot. How will it affect the region and what are we going to do about it?
The Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce, the Kendall County Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Boerne are holding their 2012 Water Forum and Luncheon on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boerne Convention and Community Center. Tickets are $30 with reservations made by September 12 and $40 thereafter.
The 2012 Water Forum’s subject is Water and the 2013 Legislative Session: Perspectives from the State Capitol and Regional Water Experts.
Tommy Mathews from Cow Creek will moderate the panel discussion with water policy experts from the Texas State House, Texas Water Development Board and SAWS:
Representative Allan Ritter is the current Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and sits on the Calendars and Ways and Means Committees. He is the President of Ritter Lumber Company and has represented HD-21 since 1999. He was elected “Freshman of the Year” in 1999 by his House colleagues and was recognized in 2003 as “Legislator of the Year” by the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas. He has received the "National State Legislator of the Year Award" from the National Home Builders Association and has also been recognized by the Texas Association of Professional Educators and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. He has also been named "Small Businessman of the Year" by the Nederland Chamber of Commerce.
Ed Vaughan is an attorney in private practice in Boerne. He has been a member of the Texas Water Development Board since 2008, a past Board Chairman and serves as the Board's representative on the Texas Bioenergy Policy Council. His term expires on December 31, 2013. He also serves as a Director of Security State Bank of Pearsall, a Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, a Director of the Former Texas Rangers Foundation, an advisory Director of First State Bank of Uvalde, and an advisory Director of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. Mr. Vaughan is a past President, Chairman, and Director of the Texas Lyceum.
State Representative Doug Miller from District 73 is the Chair of the Edwards Aquifer Legislative Oversight Committee. He’s a member of the Appropriations Committee’s Sub-Committee on Business & Economic Development and the Natural Resources Sub Committee. He’s also a member of the Natural Resources Committee in the Environmental Flows Study Group. As former Chairman of the Board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), representing Comal and Guadalupe counties, Doug worked with the legislature in 1993 to help write SB1477, which created the Edwards Aquifer Authority in statute. He was one of the original members of the EAA Board and was its longest serving member. He also worked with Senator Buster Brown in the writing of SB1, which created a new (bottom-up) model for Texas water planning and was subsequently appointed as a charter member of the Regional L Water Planning Group.
Steve Clouse is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for SAWS, the San Antonio Water System, leading a team of more than 800 water and wastewater professionals providing essential services to San Antonio, the 7th largest city in the United States. Clouse began his career with the City of San Antonio in 1985 working in the analytical laboratory and pretreatment divisions. His positions within SAWS have included operations engineer, operations manager, operations director, technical services director, maintenance director and Vice President of production and treatment.
Panel Moderator Thomas “Tommy” Mathews II of Boerne is President of Westward Environmental Inc. He is a current Board Member of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority whose term ends February 1, 2015. He is a member of the National Registry of Environmental Professionals, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists, Associated General Contractors of Texas, the Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce, Texas Hot Mix Asphalt Pavement Association, Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association, Board Member of the Guadalupe Blanco River Trust, and President of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District. He is also past President of the Hill Country Alliance of Groundwater Conservation Districts, past citizen representative of the Lower Guadalupe River Water Supply Project Advisory Forum.
The 2012 Greater Boerne Water Forum will showcase Regional and State water policy considerations and look at next year’s 83rd Texas Legislative Session to see how prominent water will be on the agenda. Water availability, quality and cost will be some of the biggest challenges we face in Texas as we try to balance quality of life and growth with policies and practices that are sustainable.
Plan to attend this important discussion by reserving your place at the table with Mary Sue Hurdt, Chamber Events Director, 830-249-8000 or online at http://boerne.org.
Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More
"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More
There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the Hill Country regarding land management, in addition to a lot of good information. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the bad from the good. Misinformation can come from a variety of sources – the coffee shop, the feed store, magazine articles, well meaning neighbors and even natural resource professionals. By clarifying some of the common misperceptions, people will be able to make better decisions regarding natural resources. Steve’s writings are timeless. Read more from Steve Nelle and educate your neighbors.
The Bennett Trust will host its first ever land stewardship and education conference April 23-25 in Kerrville. Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, will deliver the keynote address on the history and legacy of the Edwards Plateau. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit local ranches, vineyards and orchards to learn more about sustainable practices in horticulture, forage production and wildlife management. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has opened their State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) rules making process for public comment. Participation in the rules making process is critical to ensure that the intentions of the State Legislature are carried out in the long-term administration of the State’s SWIFT funds. The HCA has submitted a list of recommendations to the TWDB that will help ensure spring and stream-flow sustainability in the Hill Country.
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is hosting a candidates forum for two board of director seats up for election this year. The meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at PEC Headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. The event will also include discussion of a ballot referendum on whether to switch to single-member district elections for board directors. Learn more about the candidates from the San Marcos Mercury. Learn more about the process and forum from the PEC.
Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.
“With the exception of the lower Rio Grande Valley and small parts of Far West Texas, much of the state has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,” reads TWDB’s most recent report. “This doesn’t bode well for the next six months. A dry winter generally portends a dry spring and summer.” Read more from Nextcity.org.
Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.
How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.
“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.
The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More
It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.
April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events
April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details
April 25 in Austin - SOLD OUT - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details
April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details
May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details
May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details
May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details
May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details
May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details
May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details
May 13 in Kerrville - Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Upper Guadalupe River - Details
May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details
May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details
May 19 in Austin - 2014 Texas Water Summit: Securing our Economic Future - Presented by The Acadamy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details
Photo contest begins March 1st!
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool