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.
Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. What’s the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Read this excellent article by Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.
ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country. View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.
Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.
“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.
to host a free community meeting this Thursday to discuss why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. Speakers include Andy Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, and Bech Bruun of the TWDB. Details
The Fix 290 Coalition, a group of over 40 organizations and businesses and 2,800 petition signers, have been advocating for a “parkway" concept to move traffic through Oak Hill and protect the original character and unique natural environment of the area for more than a decade. The City of Austin is now asking for a study of this community driven “parkway” alternative to TxDot’s traditional elevated/frontage road model. Read more from Fix290.
On Saturday, September 6th the Hill Country Alliance hosted a landowner workshop for those landowners potentially impacted by the LCRA's proposed Blumenthal substation and transmission line project. The workshop featured an update from the LCRA on the status of their application to the Public Utility Commission, and a panel discussion of landowner rights during the transmission line routing and construction process. To read a more detailed summary of the event and access speaker presentations, click here.
A decade ago, prospective water marketers easily secured the rights to pump more than 20 billion gallons of water annually from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas’ Burleson County. The company now holding those rights, BlueWater, is negotiating a $3 billion deal to send much of that water to San Antonio. Read more from The Texas Tribune.
The developer of The Reserve at Fair Oaks Ranch now plans to buy Canyon Lake water to supply the proposed 635-home subdivision after project opponents expressed fears that using groundwater would deplete the Trinity Aquifer. More from SA Express-News.
The historic Herff Homestead at the Herff Farm at the Cibolo will open to the public for the first time since its restoration was completed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, sponsored by the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Learn more
If the City of Austin continues with its plan to shut down Decker Power plant, Decker Lake, a little known lake that has fed the power plant for more than 50 years, could end up serving as the city's new reservoir. Read more from State Impact.
The United States Senate has the opportunity before the end of the year to provide a powerful boost to charitable organizations working to preserve our beautiful Hill Country. Read more from the Hill Country Land Trust.
“Bexar County Commissioners reviewing their own 2015 proposed budget, were told by county planners on Tuesday that the biggest challenge they face now and in the coming years is the startling rate of population growth in the far reaches of the county, well beyond the reach of city services with expectations that county government will meet infrastructure, public safety and social needs.” Read the full story in the Rivard Report.
Open to youth ages 8-18, the Picture Your World weekend workshops teach photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration, and constructive critique. Participants will produce a visual memory of their day and begin a creative portfolio while experiencing the wonders of the natural environment. Learn more
Bruce Melton discusses how Texas' changing weather patterns are affecting our water supply and HCA's Sharlene Leurig discusses the newly formed Austin Water Resources Task Force water in two upcoming meetings of the Austin Sierra Club, September 9 and November 11. Learn more
Fredericksburg SHINES (FBG SHINES), a local organization dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living, will host their second annual Fredericksburg fall tour of homes to spotlight local examples of sustainable, green-living practices. Learn more
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) has announced completion of a helpful low impact development publication. This manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas. The manual is available for download on the GEAA website.
The population of Travis County is expected to grow 50% by 2035 for a total of 1,500,000 people. Planning for growth outside of the city limits is critical for the county to continue to thrive in a sustainable manner. As such, Travis County needs your feedback to ensure the County's first comprehensive, long-range Land Water and Transportation Plan reflects local values and priorities. Click here to learn how you can help Travis County plan for future growth.
“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post. Now California lawmakers are overhauling the state's longstanding "pump-as-you-please" groundwater policy under a package of bills lawmakers recently sent Gov. Jerry Brown. Read about California’s new groundwater rules in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Also read “Desperately Dry” in the New York Times.
Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report.
A landowner workshop has been planned for all interested in, or potentially impacted by, the proposed substation and transmission line planned for the Blumenthal area, September 6 near Fredericksburg. Learn more
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has withdrawn its June 2014 proposed rule change that would have allowed billboards along federal highways to be taller. After receiving public comments from more than 900 Texans and 15 organizations in opposition to taller billboards, the agency advised today it is removing the item from consideration on the August 28 Texas Transportation Commission agenda. Learn more
Efforts to limit the nighttime glow in and around Fredericksburg were buoyed this month as the council approved an outdoor lighting standards ordinance, which will primarily affect new residential and commercial development. A complete draft of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.fbgtx.org. Learn about Hill Country attorney-astronomer, HCA Night Sky team member Ken Kattner who records skies from home observatory and advocates for proper lighting in the Hill Country here.
SAWS presented plans for a 142 mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio at a recent community forum at UTSA. Learn more and watch a video from SAWS news here. While the plan promises 50,000 acre feet of non-Edwards water annually, a Texas Public Radio segment points out that perhaps not enough questions have been raised. Are there consequences related to costs to the community and impacts on San Antonio’s conservation ethic worth exploring? Click here to read and listen to “The Source: Some Critique On A SAWS, Vista Ridge Deal." Decisions will be made by SAWS in September and SA City Council could take this up in October.
“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.
“The routes will connect destinations beyond Dripping Springs and will take advantage of opportunities to reach the proposed Violet Crown Trail and other regional trails and parks planned for Central Texas.” Read more and get involved. The City of Dripping Springs is soliciting input.
Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance. “We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Learn more
“The population growth has had some obvious impacts, For one, there are a lot more straws, big and small, taking from the groundwater supply.” David K. Langford tells the audience at a recent private lands summit hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association. Read more from Livestock Weekly.
The Native Plant Society of Texas Native Landscape Certification Program is a series of courses that teaches best practices for native plant landscape and habitat preservation. Targeted audiences are homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape architects, architects, landscape designers and nurserymen, Master Naturalists, teachers, citizens, Master Gardeners, engineers, and more. Learn more and register.
Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects. Read more from the Texas Tribune
“It’s through photographs like these that we help share the importance of protecting our Hill Country environment, and one of the reasons our calendar has been so popular with both area residents and nature lovers worldw
September 17 in Lakeway - Water Matters by Central Texas Water Coalition - Details
September 18 in Austin - The Barstow Speakers Series: Wat're the possibilities? Strategies to Reduce the Strain on the Colorado River - Details
September 20 in Fredericksburg - Fredericksburg Shines 2nd Annual Sustainability Green Homes Tour - Details
September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details
September 25 in Fredericksburg - Hill Country Alliance Leadership Summit - Details
September 26 in Kerrville - 2014 New Landowner Series: Back to Basics, Home Gardening, Chickens, Natural vs. Organic - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details
September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details
September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details
October 8 in San Antonio - Water Forum V: A regional forum on our future - Details
October 16 in Boerne - Hill Country Agri-land workshop - Details
October 17-19 in Alpine - Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference: Ecological Restoration in the Southwest - Details
October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details
HCA's 2015 Calendar is coming soon! Check back for availability.
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