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News

June 3, 2014

ASR and Texas water resources: A tool whose time has come?

With booming water demands and shrinking supplies, water resource managers in Central Texas and beyond are increasingly considering ASR -- aquifer storage and recovery -- as a tool for generating reliable groundwater supplies. While ASR is becoming more common throughout the rest of the U.S. and around the world, Texas has been slow to adopt the technology. Is it time for that to change? Read more

May 19, 2014

Judge’s Corner: Judge makes his stance on groundwater

Water is not only a property right, it is essential to the health and welfare of all Texas citizens. For that reason, groundwater conservation districts are authorized by Texas law to protect this resource of our great state. There are now 100 such districts throughout the state. These local boards are to oversee, regulate, limit, and conserve the groundwater resources of Texas for the public’s benefit now and in the future. More from Statesman.com.

April 23 2014

CASE CLOSED: Disappointment for Hill Country Aquifer Protection

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently halted a process that could have created groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) in some of the fasted growing areas of the Hill Country. TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde successfully petitioned the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) with a motion to dismiss the case that had been underway since 2010 to create GCDs in Western Travis and Western Comal counties. The request was granted January 27, 2014, and the case is now closed. Read More

March 28, 2014

Groundwater Levels on the Decline

Stay informed about your local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) creates a monthly bulletin full of helpful water conservation information and news. Read the latest edition here. Do you know your local GCD? Do you have a local GCD? If you are unsure, contact HCA and we’ll help you learn.

March 19, 2014

TWDB's Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data

Today Texans are more aware than ever of the importance of groundwater. As part of ongoing efforts to synthesize and communicate water-related data to scientists, policy makers and the public, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB)recently announced its Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data. Learn More

February 10, 2013

Kudos to SAWS, but Day case is the real problem, not GCDs

“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.

January 29, 2014

Rio Grande Water Users Fear Groundwater Pumping Project

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.

January 24, 2014

Under the surface - The legislature was looking in the wrong place when it tried to solve the state's water crisis

“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.

January 22, 2014

Groundwater Desalination: An Under-Projected Source of Supply?

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.

January 20, 2014

The Edward Aquifer HCP is one of four conservation partnerships honored by the Interior Secretary

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

January 10, 2014

Rainfall and Recharge Reality for the Laurels Ranch, Kendall County

“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.

December 13, 2013

2014 Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest

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

December 4, 2013

For Groundwater, Political Boundaries Trump Natural Ones

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.

November 19, 2013

Texans Look Beneath the Surface for Water

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.

November 12, 2013

Why a million gallons of water? Rollingwood well could affect locals

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.

In Drought, Abbott Keeps Lawn Green by Drilling

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

September 13, 2013

Your Water Supply

We all use groundwater whether we know it or not. Many believe groundwater is unrelated to surface water but actually they are interconnected. Perhaps lending to the confusion, Texas categorizes surface and groundwater differently. Read more from Karen Huber

Court Ruling Dares Regulators to Limit Pumping

A major decision came down in the arcane, but important world of Texas water law last week—opening the door to more lawsuits against local groundwater boards for regulating water use across the state. More from Texas Observer.

August 29, 2013

Texas Groundwater Districts Face Bevy of Challenges

As groundwater managers from across the state met here this week to discuss the numerous challenges they face, talk of legislative changes to water financing and a campaign to convince voters to allow more of it was eclipsed by more pressing issues. Details

May 16, 2013

Central Texas Water Fight Could Have Statewide Implications

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation district held a meeting May 15th to discuss whether to grant new permits to outside businesses. "I think the whole state will be watching this," Steve Box, with Environmental Stewardship, told StateImpact Texas ahead of the hearing. Learn more from StateImpact Texas.

March 19, 2013

The Texas Water Plan - An 18 Year Old Perspective

Are we listening to the next generation? 18 year-old Justin Wolfe writes, "The state’s next step ought to be to legislate groundwater as a public resource, so as to manage and regulate it effectively. Only by managing this resource can we ensure the longevity of our water system for generations to come." Read Justin's full article here.

January 14, 2013

TGPC launches new website

The Texas Groundwater Protection Committee has announced the launch of its redesigned website. It’s the same great clearinghouse of groundwater information, just in a more user-friendly format.

January 9, 2013

Amid a Trickle of Regulation, Private Wells Surging in Austin

The ongoing drought in Central Texas sapped the green out of many lawns – and spurred private well drilling in Austin. South of the Colorado River, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has a tight hold on permitting for any well drilling. “But north of the river,” Slusher says, “there’s not a groundwater district and since there’s not a ground water district, there’s not a level of information about the aquifer levels.” Read full article from KUT News.

January 5, 2013

Uvalde water limits likely will be felt in San Antonio

The Edwards Aquifer Authority declared Stage IV pumping reductions Friday for the Uvalde Pool of the Edwards Aquifer. For farmers in Uvalde, that means starting the year with an unprecedented 35 percent reduction in pumping permits. For San Antonio growers, it means an ever-decreasing flow into the local pool and increased reductions likely, later this year. More from SA Express-News.

December 12, 2012

In Central Texas, a rush to secure water rights

Amid a persistent drought that has rattled Texans about water supplies, cities and investors are jockeying to purchase millions of gallons of underground water and pipe it to rapidly growing communities. More from Statesman.com

October 16, 2012

Austin voters to consider water quality protection purchases on November ballot

“Development-rights deals keep the land in private hands and typically involve no access to the general public.” This is one of the best Hill Country strategies for improving water supply and water quality while protecting heritage ranch lands. The cities of Austin and San Antonio, Travis, Hays and Bexar Counties have had tremendous success with bond initiatives. HCA’s research indicates that it’s feasible for other high growth counties such as Kendall, Kerr, Comal and Blanco to do the same. Read more from the American Statesman. More from Statesman.com.

Time had come for city to register private water wells

The northern segment of the Edwards Aquifer, which stretches from Lady Bird Lake to the Lampasas River, is lightly regulated, unlike the southern Barton Springs segment, which is controlled by the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. The district restricts the drilling of water wells and has the authority to limit the amount of water that can be pumped during a severe drought. Read more from Statesman.com.

October 5, 2012

We Can’t Do It Alone

David K. Langford tells an eloquent story about his family’s longstanding connection to the land, and about a problem he is facing that is bigger than even he can deal with. With an earnestness that reveals his passion, David describes how his ranch’s natural springs and creeks that are so vital to the health and diversity of his land are being jeopardized by an external threat over which he has little to no control. Read More

Telling graphic of private wells on the rise in Central Texas

Private wells are on the rise, mostly for landscape irrigation. Take a look at this story from the most recent edition of the BSEACD Aquifer Bulletin. While groundwater conservation districts (GCD’s) are the preferred method of groundwater management in Texas, it’s important to remember that Western Travis County and Western Comal Counties still have not created (GCDs). Learn more from HCA and BSEACD.

August 18, 2012

New EAA website, video explain Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan

A new website and video developed by the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) help explain the purpose and goals of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP), which is currently under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The website www.eahcp.org went live August 3, 2012, and features helpful background information on the development of the EAHCP, its history, mission and goals, including a new informational video. Learn More

August 8, 2012

It’s All the Same Water

Texas is the only Western state where rule of capture is law. That may work well for property owners wanting to sell their groundwater, or sell their mineral rights, but not so great for most of the rest of the population that relies on water as a life source. Read full article by Joe Nick Patoski.

July 16, 2012

2012 Texas Water Plan identifies Hill Country water shortages

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.

July 5, 2012

Well, that's interesting: Man takes trip down water memory lane

“There are still artesian wells in Texas, Mace said, but most of them are now gone. Some towns just let the wells run free until they stopping running altogether. "They just played out," Mace said. "It's actually a really good lesson in conservation." Read more from Statesman.com.

June 25, 2012

EAA Declares Stage 4 for Uvalde Pool

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.

Aquifer Alliance Applauds, Deplores Proposed Edwards Aquifer Authority Rules

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance is encouraging participation in an EAA hearing that will be held this Wednesday, June 27th at 6pm in Hondo and Thursday in San Antonio. If approved, the proposed rule “will certainly increase the amount of fuels and other hazardous material stored on the Recharge Zone (ERZ), putting our water supply in peril”. Read more from GEAA.

June 6, 2012

Edwards Aquifer Authority Manager Placed on Leave

Karl Dreher, the general manager for the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), has been placed on paid administrative leave.It isn’t clear why Dreher was placed on administrative leave. Assistant General Manager for Communications & External Affairs Roland Ruiz said that “as a personnel matter, there is no statement other than to confirm that the action did occur.” Ruiz also confirmed that Dreher was placed on leave by Laura Buckner, chair of the EAA board of directors. He says the decision will be taken up by the board at its next meeting June 12. Read more from NPR.

June 3, 2012

More Austinites drilling private wells to water lawns

As plummeting lake levels triggered drastic watering restrictions during the drought, homeowners drilled 47 new water wells in Austin last year — more than doubling the 19 drilled the year before, according to data from the Texas Water Development Board. Read more from Statesman.com.

May 31, 2012

Southern Great Plains could run out of groundwater in 30 years, study finds

Key farming regions in the US are drawing water from underground sources at unsustainable rates, with slightly more than one-third of the southern Great Plains at risk of tapping out its sources within the next 30 years. Read more from scmonitor.com.

May 15, 2012

We can do better in GMA 9

The Hill Country’s Trinity Aquifer set a 30 foot average drawdown management goal despite heavy public protest stating this was too much and would not sustain spring flows. The next five year planning cycle is already underway. At a recent public meeting, David Glenn, an involved citizen from Wimberley in Hays County offered well written comments to help create a picture of the Trinity Aquifer and consequences of careless management of the resource. Read, learn and get involved locally.

March 19, 2012

High Court Rules That Landowner Rights Also Include Groundwater

"The purpose of a district, in my opinion, is to prevent harm that the rule of capture would allow and to try to the best of their ability to create sustainable aquifer production. The goal as much as possible should be one of sustainability." Read more from Livestock Weekly.

Texas Farmers Battle Ogallala Pumping Limits

“Texas is virtually the only state that functions by the “rule of capture,” which allows landowners to pump essentially unlimited amounts of water. Elsewhere in the U.S., groundwater is a public resource, and the state allows people to use the resource.” Read more from Texas Tribune.

March 6, 2012

March 11 – 17, 2012 is National Groundwater Awareness Week

Groundwater is found in the spaces between particles and cracks in underground rock in formations known as aquifers. Even though it is out of sight, groundwater should not be far out of mind. In Texas, groundwater provides 60% of all freshwater used – great shortfalls are expected during the coming decades. Conservation is key. Learn more from the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee. Learn about groundwater resources from HCA here.

March 5, 2012

Texas Aquifers Threatened by Population Growth, Development and Pollution

Texas gets 80 percent of its water supply from aquifers, according to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Aquifer water levels are declining because of drought and increasing demands on water supply due to population growth. The quality of aquifers also is in jeopardy from construction runoff, leaking toxic waste sites and storage tanks, injection wells, industry pollution, and the use of agrochemicals on farm land. Read more from Clean Houston.

TWDB Votes to Increase Groundwater Pumping in the Texas Hill Country

The March 1st board meeting of the Texas Water Development Board in Austin drew a large crowd at the Stephen F. Austin building downtown. Many came to speak in opposition to the 30 ft decline or so called Desire Future Condition (DFC) of the Trinity Aquifer in Western Hays County and to support the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association’s request for developing a ‘Special Groundwater Management Area” (SGMA) for Jacob’s Well and the Wimberley Valley. Read more from WVWA.

March 1, 2012

Peach crop: good cold hours, early blooms

While “bumper crop” might be a stretch of a prediction considering last year’s drought, local growers are expecting a good crop on area peach trees barring a late freeze. Read more from the Fredericksburg Standard.

February 28 2012

Groundwater ruling potentially unleashes geyser of future cases

Prompted by the severity of the current drought, Texans have been earnestly discussing how to manage the state's water resources for the next several decades to meet the needs of a growing population and dynamic economy. This necessary discussion must now consider last week's ruling on property rights and groundwater by the Texas Supreme Court and how it potentially threatens efforts to regulate and conserve aquifers. The court unanimously ruled Friday that property owners own the water beneath their land just as surely as they own the oil and gas. Read more from Statesman.com.

February 24, 2012

Texas Supreme Court Rules For Landowners in Water Case

In a case with potentially vast implications for groundwater rules in Texas, the Texas Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of two farmers in the San Antonio area who challenged the local aquifer authority's sharp restrictions on their use of a water well on their land. Read more from Texas Tribune. Background on groundwater rights here.

February 17, 2012

Texas Drought Sparks Water Well Drilling Frenzy

As the most intense drought in state history drags on, plenty of Texans are waiting for months to have such wells drilled, fearful that their municipalities could impose stricter limits on water use. But this increased demand is causing concerns that groundwater in some places will start drying up, and regulators are working on rules to maintain certain groundwater levels. Read full Texas Tribune Article.

February 6, 2012

Do more soon to preserve our waters

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.

November 16, 2011

Our treasured springs need protection

The canary is in the coal mine and he's thirsty. Without thoughtful stewardship, public treasures such as Jacob's Well, Hays County's historic perennial spring, as well as the private legacies of the many unnamed springs feeding Block Creek on Kendall County's historic Hillingdon Ranch could stop flowing forever. Read full Statesman.com commentary by David K. Langford and David Baker.

September 28, 2011

Draft Water Plan Says Texas "Will Not Have Enough"

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.

State Water Plan comment period open through October 25th

The Texas Water Development Board has posted the 2012 State Water Plan in draft form for public review and comment. This is your opportunity to provide input to the State of Texas about the future of our water resources. An email option makes it easy to send comments. Several public meetings will be held to gather input including October 3rd in San Antonio followed by a formal public hearing in Austin on October 17th. Learn more from TWDB.

September 14, 2011

Groundwater Districts lowers tax rate to a penny per $100 valuation

In these times of severe drought and water shortages, it’s hard to believe that Travis and Comal Counties still have not formed Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs) like the rest of the Texas Hill Country. One reason is that some people fear a new tax. Last week in Burnet County, the GCD voted on a lower new tax rate, only one cent ($0.01) per $100. Learn the myths and truths of GCD’s.

August 23, 2011

County adds clout to water rules

Kendall County Commissioners Court gave their consent to the declaration of a local disaster by County Judge Gaylan Schroeder during their regular meeting Monday, giving the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department, constables and the county attorney authority to assist the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District in detecting and prosecuting violators of groundwater use restrictions. Violators can be fined up to $1,000 or confined in the county jail for up to 180 days. Read full Boerne Star article here.

August 5, 2011

Hill Country must focus on long-term water goals

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.

July 7, 2011

No Watering in Fredericksburg Mon – Fri

Coming off its driest January-June period in 49 years -- and with still no rain in sight -- the City of Fredericksburg is this week implementing Stage 4 water rationing to limit outdoor watering to just one day a week. Read more from the Fredercksburg Standard here.

July 5, 2011

Austin residents digging more wells

Read this alarming news report - Travis County is one of just a few areas recognized with critical groundwater issues and yet wells continue to be drilled without permitting or oversight. Read more about the lack of a groundwater conservation district in Western Travis County here. More on Hill Country Groundwater resources here.

June 16, 2011

Edwards Aquifer Authority reports Stage III restrictions imminent across region

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

Cow Creek GCD moves to a Stage 5 Drought Condition

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.

June 10, 2011

Water Policy in Texas Legislature Rode on One Word

With the Big Dry upon us, the longstanding fight over the water percolating under the surface in nine major and 20 minor underground aquifers was bound to get contentious before the end of the 82nd legislative session. And it did, at least for a while, because of a single word. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

June 8, 2011

Desired Future Conditions Threaten the Colorado River

The adopted Desired Future Conditions for our aquifers will cause the Colorado River to lose its base-flow by 2060. Environmental Stewardship illustrates this point and introduces “Project Game-Changer” Learn more

June 7, 2011

Drought reveals deeper area water issues

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.

May 31, 2011

Watershed news from Wimberley Valley

Challenges Water Plan to Allow for More Groundwater Pumping Than is Available in the Hill Country, Profile of Jacob’s Well, David Baker receives the Texas Environmental Excellence Award, a Hays County Water Issues Alert: Download the newsletter here.

May 30, 2011

Groundwater Depletion is Detected from Space

Scientists have been using small variations in the Earth’s gravity to identify trouble spots around the globe where people are making unsustainable demands on groundwater, one of the planet’s main sources of fresh water. Read more from the New York Times here.

May 14, 2011

Monthly fee of $3 for SAWS is pushed

By increasing its average monthly water bill $3, San Antonio Water System could help pay for a new management program for the Edwards Aquifer that would free San Antonio from the threat of a federal lawsuit or loss of control of its main water source, according to a leading water policymaker. Read more from SA Express-News here.

April 27, 2011

Attorney Discusses Emerging Fracking, Groundwater Issues

In Texas oil and gas is definitely still king, and nowhere is that more evident than in South Texas, where the Eagle Ford shale play is making money hand over fist for many fortunate landowners. However, as wonderful as that income may be, rarely do such treasures come without at least some give and take, and mostly it’s give on the part of the landowners. Read full Livestock Weekly here.

April 19, 2011

600+ Hays County Citizens Sign Petition Asking County Commissioners for Election on HTGCD Decision

Citizens petition for an election to affirm or reverse the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District decision granting a permit to Wimberly Springs Partners, owners of an active golf course in the city of Woodcreek and undeveloped acreage in Woodcreek North. Read more from the Citzens Alliance for Responsible Developement.

April 14, 2011

State Representative proposes cutting Western Travis from the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA)

The PGMA designation is given when critical groundwater shortages are expected - and to recommend some action to manage groundwater. Western Travis absolutely should remain in the PGMA and strengthen groundwater management, not ignore it. Statesman Article here.

March 31, 2011

Senate Passes SB 332

The Texas Senate passed a much-discussed piece of groundwater legislation, voting 28-3 to approve a bill stating that landowners in the state have a "vested ownership interest" in the groundwater beneath their land...Texas Tribune report.
More on SB 332.

Petition Challenges Water Plan to Allow for More Groundwater Pumping Than is Available in the Hill Country

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association has filed a Petition Appealing the 30’ Desired Future Condition (DFC) Drawdown Set by Groundwater Management Area 9 (GMA-9) for the Trinity Group Aquifers in Hays County and is calling for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) and GMA-9 to determine the 30’ DFC as unreasonable and unsustainable. Read more

Two reports give conflicting views of future water supply

A report released last month by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority regarding water planning in Kendall County and Fair Oaks Ranch is based on estimates of available groundwater that are substantially different - 67 percent less - than estimates released by the Texas Water Development Board on Feb. 7. Read full Boerne Star article here.

Water policy must consider the groundwater and surface water connection

"Ground water and surface water are not separate categories of water any more than liquid water and ice are truly separate. The designations 'ground water' and 'surface water' merely describe the physical location of the water in the hydrologic cycle. Indeed ground and surface water form a continuum." Full report from GWPC. Yet in Texas policy, we treat these resources separately.

March 30, 2011

Groundwater proposal gets a compromise – Serious concerns are still alive

KUT covered the story yesterday, “It’s a critical time for groundwater districts right now”. Read or listen to the story here. Sierra Club released a statement today still opposing the bill, “The Legislature would be subjecting virtually every action by a groundwater district to a potential “takings” claim. Full media release - For history and resources about SB 332 click here.

March 16, 2011

Japan earthquake displaced water in Edwards Aquifer

The water level of Texas' Edwards Aquifer was displaced about a foot Friday after energy released from a massive earthquake near Japan put the squeeze on the underground rock formation that supplies drinking water for much of Central Texas. Read the full Statesman.com article here.

March 7, 2011

The Texas Water War: Is there a solution and who decides?

Environmental Stewardship, Independent Texans, Neighbors for Neighbors and The Texas Drought Project will be hosting and open forum conference to discuss groundwater issues March 19th in Cedar Creek. Details and Registration - Conference Agenda
Read more about the Texas Water Wars here.

March 4, 2011

Texas Debates Who Owns Its Water

At a crowded hearing earlier this week, members of the state Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources heard testimony on a bill that would declare that landowners have a “vested ownership interest” in the water beneath their land. A less-discussed second bill recognizes both landowner rights and the “compelling public interest” of effective groundwater management. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

March 2, 2011

Capitol awash with water issues

Senate committee takes up measure that would equate groundwater with private property. Read full Statesman.com article here.

March 1, 2011

Who Owns Texas' Groundwater?

Water is simple. Water policy, water law? Clear as crude. Today, in an interminable hearing, the Senate Natural Resources Committee discussed two bills that would, depending on your view, do nothing, radically change, slightly modify, clarify, or confuse Texas groundwater law. Read full Texas Observer article here.

February 17, 2011

Our Water is Our Future – Citizen unite in opposition the Uvalde water pipeline

The Keep Our Water Association has launched campaign in response to an ongoing movement by private investors to pass legislation that will allow the transport Edwards water away from the rural western region. The mission: To protect and preserve the wellbeing of the western portion of the Edwards Aquifer and those citizens and businesses that are affected by it. Learn more here.

February 8, 2011

The Saga of the Hill Country PGMA

"The fate of these unprotected areas – including southwestern Travis County adjacent to BSEACD – is anybody’s guess at this point…” Read the full article here and the entire issue of The Aquifer Bulletin published by the BSEACD here. This resource includes timely articles about groundwater resources.

November 17, 2010

Will Water Rights Be on the Legislature's Agenda?

Next legislative session, during the few minutes not taken up with the budget, redistricting and immigration, an old stand-by of an issue could creep onto the agenda: water. Observers say legislative proposals on groundwater rights are probable, given that Texas is just wrapping up a controversial process for planning the allocation of water from aquifers, while environmentalists will be pushing more measures for water conservation. Read more from the Texas Tribune here.

November 15, 2010

Animating Groundwater Issues

The Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District developed an animated video explaining the complexities of Hill Country aquifers and groundwater management. As Milan explains, “Here's a modern educational tool that will serve well to increase the understanding of the behavior of something that many years ago was considered "mysterious and occult" by Texas law-groundwater.” Read more

October 20, 2010

Travis County commissioners ban development that uses Trinity Aquifer water

Travis County commissioners unanimously approved a one-year ban Tuesday on nearly all new development in western parts of the county that would rely on water from the Trinity Aquifer. Read full Statesman.com article here.

October 10, 2010

Environmental Stewardship calls for citizen action – to keep groundwater for local use

The water marketers have taken steps to get Bastrop and Lee county groundwater against our wishes.” The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group (Region L) move towards a $400 million pipeline from Bastrop, Lee and Burleson counties to San Marcos and San Antonio. Learn more here.

October 5, 2010

Water Symposium will air Sunday, October 10th on TPR

Last week’s water symposium sparked conversation about the rule of capture, water marketing and rainwater harvesting. Listen to Representatives Hilderbran, Callegari and Miller discuss water policy on Newsmaker at 8:00 pm, October 10th, KSTX 89.1. More about the Texas Water Symposium here.

September 15, 2010

Two questions hold key to future of the aquifer

If the 26 members of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program can reach a compromise in the next two weeks on two cantankerous issues, they may solve a two-decade-old dispute about the allocation of water from the aquifer. Read full San Antonio Express article here.

August 31, 2010

Texas Completes Key Groundwater Planning Step

An intensive process to plan out the maximum depletion of aquifers over the next half-century has been completed just ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

August 18, 2010

TCEQ recognizes need for Hays, Travis, Comal Groundwater District

The TCEQ issued a report that draws the conclusion that an order be issued to create a Groundwater Conservation District to include Western Travis, Hays and Comal Counties. The report was filed June 30th and is available online here. More information here. A hearing has been set for set for October 28, 2010 at the Hays County Courthouse at 10:00 a.m. Click here for details.

TWCA Fall Meeting Scheduled for October 13-15

State Representative Doug Miller and TWDB Board Member Thomas Weir Labatt III will headline the fall meeting of the Texas Water Conservation Association (TWCA), scheduled for October 13-15, 2010, at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. The program will also include numerous presentations on surface and groundwater management. Registration information and a full agenda should be available on the TWCA website by mid-August.

August 10, 2010

GMA 9 Releases June 26th minutes

Minutes from the GMA 9 meeting to determine “desired future conditions” are posted here. The GMA 9 DFC resolution can be uploaded here.

August 5, 2010

Viewpoint: Comal County needs groundwater conservation district

In the state of Texas, the state owns surface water, including lakes and rivers. But groundwater is a private-property rights matter. In this regard, the state has declared that the preferred method of managing groundwater in Texas is by a groundwater conservation district. (Comal) county has no such groundwater conservation district atop the Trinity Aquifer, which spans about two-thirds of our county. Read full San Antonio Express community article here.

July 30, 2010

The Future of Water: GMA 9's 30-foot drawdown decision could crimp future growth

After nearly four years of hydrology modeling and politicking, representatives from groundwater districts in Kendall and eight other Hill Country counties decided Monday to limit the drawdown of aquifer levels to no more than 30 feet over the next 50 years. Read full Boerne Star article here.

July 21, 2010

Future Water - Guest Article re: critical Hill Country groundwater decision on July 26th

Beneath many places in the Texas Hill Country, more groundwater is being pumped out than can be replaced through the water cycle. “What does a Desired Future Condition (DFC) have to do with your water?” On 26 July 2010, you can comment on this question. Read more here.

July 20, 2010

KUT News highlights the Hill Country Groundwater Dilemma

This month, parts of Central Texas will decide how much water will be in the aquifers below the land for the next 50 years. The decisions will affect Dripping Springs, Johnson City, Wimberley and other towns south and west of Austin that rely on groundwater supplies. Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports, click here.

July 13, 2010

Critical Groundwater decisions are being made now – participate locally

Hill Country Groundwater Districts are meeting over the next few weeks to prepare for the Regional GMA9 meeting on July 26th. Local groundwater districts need your input. The Hill Country region is about to establish a Desired Future Condition (DFC) for groundwater supply. What will this mean for your well? For spring flow? For your ranch? Read more here.

June 14, 2010

GMA 9 Public Meetings to examine progress on the DFC process

Groundwater Conservation Districts in the Texas Hill Country are jointly planning a “Desired Future Condition” (DFC) goal for groundwater resources in our region. Public meetings will be held June 21 in Kerrville, June 23 in Boerne and June 24 in Dripping Springs. Learn more here.

May 14, 2010

Public hearing set June 14 on new groundwater rules

After a months-long, sometimes contentious process to formulate new groundwater rules for Kendall County, a public hearing on the matter has been set for the board’s regular meeting June 14. Read full Boerne Star article here.

May 4, 2010

Reality of Drought-An Update

“...to sustain these flows, the efforts of private property owners, whose land stewardship practices can reduce runoff and improve recharge, are directly linked to the responsibilities of a Groundwater Conservation District, through which locally elected Directors strive to equitably manage this resource for all.” Read the report and preceding articles here.

GMA 9 Joint Planning Meeting Monday May 10 in Kerrville

Hill Country Groundwater District boards and staff meet regularly to work towards common desired future conditions for this region. On this agenda, to be held in May 10th in Kerrvile, planners will be briefed from Texas Water Development Board staff about recent progress with water availability models. Stay informed. Read full agenda here.

April 22, 2010

A Watershed Case

On the surface, it’s a case about an oat-and-peanut farm and two South Texas men who wanted enough water to operate it. But underneath lies a century-old tug-of-war over who really owns the water beneath the land. At the core of the case is how the court will interpret Texas law, which currently acknowledges not only landowners’ rights to water beneath the land but also the authority of groundwater districts to regulate it. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

April 20, 2010

TWA calls for Legislature to reaffirm groundwater as a vested, real property right

TWA President Tina Y. Buford on Thursday told members of the House Committee on Natural Resources that TWA strongly believes it is in the best interests of the citizens of our state to continue to recognize this right because this vested, protectable right promotes conservation and management of our groundwater. Read more here.

April 14, 2010

GMA 9

The GMA 9 “desired future conditions” process continues. Ron Fieseler recently released a status report for the GMA 9 process as of April 2010, click here to read. Texas Water Matters is always an excellent resource on groundwater and surface water planning.

Hays Trinity GCD featured on KDRP Saturday April 17th

During the drought Groundwater Management in the Texas Hill Country was a topic of conversation everywhere you turn. We have to keep that conversation alive while creeks are flowing; managing groundwater for our growing region remains a challenge. Learn about the history and intentions of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District with Jack Hollon on “Cedar Lady” this Saturday morning at 9:00 am on 99.9 FM, or http://www.kdrplive.org.

April 1, 2010

Public input sought on water plan

Today in Victoria is the first of seven meetings that will be held across South Texas to gather the public's input about the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's plan to collectively manage Edwards Aquifer and ensure protection of the ecosystems that those species and people depend on for clean water. Read full San Antonio Express News article here.

February 28, 2010

State aims to make groundwater rules more uniform

With just about every drop of river water already spoken for, suppliers, especially in Central Texas, are turning to underground water in counties to the east as the next big source. But they face a problem because groundwater districts, set up as individual fiefdoms meant to reflect local histories and philosophies about water and land use, have different permitting rules and sensibilities. Read full Statesman.com article here.

February 24, 2010

GMA9 decides on more public hearings

The board of GMA9 has decided to hold three more public hearings — in Kerrville, Wimberley and Boerne — in the coming months before it establishes new Desired Future Conditions for the Edwards Aquifer. Read full Kerrville Daily Times article here.

February 13, 2010

Cow Creek GCW plans to challenge GMA ruling

In an effort to protect Boerne’s surface water sources, the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District board approved a resolution Monday challenging the Texas Water Development Board’s recent decision that the desired future conditions adopted by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9 are unreasonable. Read full Boerne Star article here.

January 29, 2010

Texas Water Development Board earns “Atta Boy”

Preserve Our Water commends the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for its decision regarding the protest of the Groundwater Management Area 9 Desired Future Condition (DFC) for the Edwards/Trinity aquifer component. Read full Preserve our Water release here.

January 22, 2010

Texas Water Development Board finds GMA 9 future conditions unreasonable

In a special meeting Thursday in Austin, the Texas Water Development Board said the desired future conditions adopted by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9 are unreasonable. The board of directors of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District has strongly backed the GMA-9 position and Cow Creek Board President Tommy Mathews is a member of the GMA-9 executive committee. Thursday’s ruling was a significant blow to local water planners. Read full Boerne Star article here. Read comments about this article here.

January 18, 2010

Groundwater Conservation Districts

Most of the water consumed in Texas is groundwater. As the demand for this precious resource grows, so does its need for management and protection. Read full TECQ article here.

January 11, 2010

The Desired Future Conditions Conference - Jan 20-21 in Austin

The Texas A&M Graduate Water Program, Texas Agrilife Extension and the Texas Water Development Board have planned a conference addressing pumping limits for Texas’ aquifers and the desired future condition process. Read about the details and how to register here.

January 7, 2010

Attorney Calls For Centralized Groundwater Management In Texas

“I am convinced that the current system of groundwater management in Texas is an obsolete model and has no place in Texas in the 21st century.” That was one of the opening remarks offered by Steve Kosub, water resource counsel for the San Antonio Water System, at a recent Texas Water Law conference sponsored by the University of Texas School of Law. Read full Livestock Weekly article here.

December 19, 2009

Growth vs future water supply

Months of behind-the-scenes work paid off Monday night with a quiet public hearing and unanimous approval of a revised management plan for the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District. The plan deals with numerous hot-button issues, including predictions of managed available groundwater, projected total water supply in Kendall County and groundwater management policies. Read full Boerne Star article here.

December 1, 2009

TCEQ Establishes Office of Water

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has announced formation of a new Office of Water, effective Dec. 1. The new office will encompass the three existing major water divisions in the agency: Water Planning, Water Supply, and Water Quality. “The new office is in recognition of the fact that the state’s population is expected to double in the next 30 years,” said Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D. “So the agency must put even more focus on water issues to ensure that there will be adequate water quality and quantity for future demand.” Read full media release here.

November 19, 2009

LCRA reopens the tap as drought wanes

In another signal of how much the Central Texas drought has eased, the Lower Colorado River Authority on Wednesday released customers from mandatory watering restrictions in place since August. Read full Statesman.com article here.

November 18, 2009

LCRA Board Approves Drought Measures - Turns focus to planning for future

At its meetingWednesday, Nov. 18, the LCRA Board approved drought measures aimed at managing the ongoing Colorado River Basin Drought. The Board’s approval followed weeks of expert staff analysis, public input from customers and stakeholders and deliberation among Board members. Read full media release here.

November 17, 2009

Balancing water needs of aquifer's many users

Water restrictions put in place during this year's drought are nothing compared with those of the future if management of the Edwards Aquifer is not changed, scientists say in a new report. Read full San Antonio Express - News article here.

November 6, 2009

TWDB hears latest round in regional water spat

Another round in a battle between Hill Country water planners was fought in Kerrville Monday at a Texas Water Development Board hearing. The conflict centers on a decision about “desired future conditions” made on Aug. 29, 2008, by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9, which is made up of one representative from each of the groundwater districts in Kendall, Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Travis and northern Bexar counties. Read full Boerne Star article here.

October 13, 2009

Water limits fuel debate

A swirl of debate overwhelmed the Oct. 9 quarterly meeting of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. After nearly two hours of give-and-take during the public comment part of the meeting, directors spent another two hours arguing over just the first of two dozen action items on the agenda. The topic of production limits on permitted wells, proposed in the district's new rules, drew the most attention - Read full Bandera Bulletin article here.

October 12, 2009

TCEQ Wastewater Quality Limits Are Too Lax

Protect Lake Travis Association continues to educate residents regarding the immediate threat of sewage effluent being discharged into Lake Travis and upstream. Comments are due October 30th. This is the time to speak up and contact your local elected officials. Read more here.

October 6, 2009

Two vulnerable areas in the Texas Hill Country could finally benefit from groundwater management planning

TCEQ staff is recommending that the western Comal County territory be added to the Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District and the southwestern Travis County territory be added to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. All written comments must be received by November 12th, 2009. Read more here.

October 3, 2009

Sanchez: Water shortage flush with cause for major concern

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a personal visit is priceless. Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan store and supply drinking water for many Central Texans and are only 39 percent full. A pessimist would say the glass is 61 percent empty. Read full Statesman.com commentary here.

October 1, 2009

TCEQ ignores stakeholder’s recommendations for Edwards Aquifer rule on Direct Discharge Permits

Imagine the Hill Country stream near you with a wastewater treatment plant dumping treated effluent into it. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality identified a stakeholders committee to review and comment on wastewater discharge rules for the Barton and Onion Creek watersheds of the Edwards Aquifer. This came after the much debated Belterra permit application which was granted in spite of multi-jurisdiction united opposition. The stakeholder’s committee says don’t do it, but TCEQ seems to be moving ahead with a proposed new rule to make direct discharge permits in this fragile region okay. Read more here.

September 11, 2009

Aquifer District Adopts Additional Rules to Protect Groundwater

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has changed its rules to manage more equitably its groundwater resources and to respond more effectively to severe and prolonged droughts. At its Board meeting last night, the District’s Board of Directors approved a sweeping set of rule changes to accomplish those objectives. Read full media release here.

August 20, 2009

An argument for the TCEQ ‘no-discharge’ rule

There is nothing like a long, serious drought to make us really appreciate the wonderful asset that is Lake Travis. And while we all worry about when the rains and water will return, there is one thing we have not had to worry about in a very long time – the threat of pollution in the form of sewage effluent discharged into Lake Travis and upstream. Read full North Lake Travis Log Op-ed here.

August 23, 2009

Our Water Supply, Down the Drain

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.

August 17, 2009

Cities petition to release treated wastewater in river watershed

Cities up and down the Colorado River, including Marble Falls, are being asked to join in a petition to change rules that have stood for a decade against releasing discharge from wastewater treatment plants into the watershed. Read full Highlander article here.

August 8, 2009

Austin water treatment plant debate

City Council keeps treatment facility on pace for spring construction as some members begin to question need, cost. Read the full Statesman article here. A special meeting has been called for September 17th to debate this issue before a definitive vote in October. Previous news on this issue here.

June 30, 2009

Where the first raindrop falls

John Graves said it best in Texas Rivers: “The loss of our primeval forests and prairies, the extinction or increasing rarity of many species of living things, the disruption of our waters’ flow and their pollution — all these evils and more … are the price we have paid for progress and prosperity and our nation’s power, for getting to the point we have reached today.” What point have we reached? Gunnar Brune’s Springs of Texas (1973) gives a clue. “Texas originally had 281 major and historically significant springs, other than saline springs. Sixty-three springs, many with important historical backgrounds, have completely failed.” - Read full TPWD article here.

June 13, 2009

Breakdown of LCRA-San Antonio water deal has rippling implications

When the San Antonio Water System accused the Lower Colorado River Authority in May of reneging on a huge water deal, more than money was at stake. The potential $2.2 billion water-sharing project ran aground after the river authority said it might not have enough water to meet the needs in its basin area while also shipping water to San Antonio. Read full article here.

June 11, 2009

Water users express concerns about groundwater supplies during drought

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.

June 8, 2009

The Back Porch - Water and wildlife in the marketplace

Texas contains nearly 200,000 miles of streams and rivers. Thirteen of the state’s 15 rivers flow through metropolitan areas supply-ing water for more than 22 million people. Twenty percent of those people depend on a single river: the Trinity. To supply water for people while balancing the needs for wildlife, positive things must happen on the landscape — 95 percent of which is in private hands. - Read full TPWD article here.

June 4, 2009

$182M bond sale approved for pipeline project

Last Thursday, May 21, was a banner day for those who support the construction of the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority tri-city water infrastructure project - those opposing the project weren't quite so happy. In a hearing in Austin, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the sale of $182 million in bonds to fund Phase 1A of the project, which will include a pipeline along Trails End Road in Cedar Park and a water treatment plant with 17 million gallons per day capacity. See full Hill Country News article here.

May 27, 2009

Assault on water plan

Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District vice president Wayne Brown, a leading critic of the CTGCD’s proposed regulations, told a Burnet County water issues meeting Friday that the district’s attorney made regulations more confusing after two public hearings in the past year criticized the rules as too long and too complicated. See full Highlander article here.

April 29, 2009

Hearing set for Llano River sand and gravel application

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is being asked to permit the mining of sand and gravel along a nearly one-mile stretch of streambed in the Llano River. Kingsland businessmen Joe Long and Mark Stephenson have petitioned TPWD to annually remove or disturb 240,000 cubic yards from an island in the middle of the river, approximately three miles above the Kingsland Slab. Under state law, the TPWD manages, controls, and protects sand and gravel extraction in navigable rivers of the State. In deciding whether to grant or deny the permit, the agency must consider the project’s impact on fish and wildlife habitat, navigation, and in some cases, recreational activity. Read full article here.

April 22, 2009

Council Okays Sale Of Water -- For Now

Following a lengthy discussion at Monday night’s meeting, the Fredericksburg City Council agreed to supply local golf resort Boot Ranch with ground water for its golf course from a nearby well until an effluent line can be completed from the city’s waste water treatment plant. The motion to supply water to the golfing community located near RM 965, passed by a 4-1 margin, with councilman Tom Musselman casting the only dissenting vote. The new plan, which comes at the request of Boot Ranch, calls for the city to sell a maximum 40.5 million gallons of water until an Aug. 1 cut-off date. By then, it’s believed that the golf facility will have completed the effluent pipe project and have the pump stations on-line. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.

April 14, 2009

Texas Groundwater Management: Change urgently needed

Surface water in Texas belongs to the state. It can only be used with the state’s permission. The management of groundwater is another rather complicated, even strange story, considering how critical and urgent groundwater conservation is for Texas. Action by this legislative session to move toward more effective groundwater management is ongoing. Read the full article here.

Some bills strengthen, some weaken Groundwater Conservation Districts

Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD) are local units of government authorized by the state legislature and ratified at the local level to manage and protect groundwater. Ninety-seven GCDs have been created in the state. The total includes 93 established (confirmed) districts and four unconfirmed districts. The 93 established districts cover all or part of 145 of the state's 254 counties. This leaves about half of Texas subject to the rule of capture. Read the full article here.

February 5, 2009

Groundwater use at resort leads to public outcry in Bandera County

"Flying L Public Utility District’s (PUD) 256 customers have been under Stage 3 water restrictions since July 2008, when both wells supplying homeowners with water had dropped to 345 feet," writes Stephanie Parker for the Bandera County Courier. "Stage 3 restrictions means that outdoor watering is restricted and households are limited to 15,000 gallons of water per billing period. In July, Flying L PUD President Bob Dawson said that 97 percent of PUD customers complied and used less than the allotted 15,000 gallons." Read the full Courier story here.

January 21, 2009

Preserve Our Water reports 'exceptional' drought in Blanco County

In their most recent water news alert, Preserve Our Water has released a story on the severity of the drought in Blanco County, an update on the GMA 9 Desired Future Conditions debate, a Texas Legislature preview and a review of drought conditions in the news. Read these stories and more here.

BSEACD releases Aquifer Bulletin for January - April 2009

According to the Barton Springs/ Edwards Aquifer Conservation District: "The District’s Board of Directors declared Critical Stage Drought for the District area on December 11, 2008, and both drought indices, Barton Springs and the Lovelady Well, remain below their respective Critical thresholds (Figure 1). This is only the second time in the District’s 21-year history that a declaration of this severity has been issued, and comes six months after the Board declared Alarm Stage Drought on June 23, 2008." Read this full story and the rest of the bulletin here.

January 19, 2009

Rep. Leibowitz Files Bill to Prohibit Discharge of Treated Sewage Effluent into Edwards Aquifer Waterways

From the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance: "State Representative David McQuade Leibowitz (District 117) late Tuesday filed a bill that many believe is much needed to protect the quality of water in the Edwards Aquifer. H.B. 595 states 'The commission (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality-TCEQ) may not issue a new permit authorizing the discharge of sewage effluent directly into any water in the contributing or recharge zone of the San Antonio or Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.'" Read the full release here.

December 12, 2008

Groundwater conservation district considers annexing SW Travis County

"Growing pressure by the state to increase water well regulation could cause parts of western Travis County, including the Oak Hill area, to be regulated under the authority of a Groundwater Conservation District," writes Adrienne deWolfe for the Oak Hill Gazette. "The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has asked the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to consider annexing Oak Hill." Read the full Gazette story here.

November 2, 2008

Groundwater District to discuss annexation of SW Travis County

Come to the town hall meeting November 6 at Bee Creek's United Methodist Church, located at 3000 Bee Creek Road in Spicewood to discuss annexing SW Travis County into the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District (BSEAGCD). The meeting lasts from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include information on how groundwater protection can be achieved in this vulnerable area, as well as a session for public input to help assess the area's annexation. Read the details here.

TCEQ has a new Water Quality division

"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently formed a new Water Quality Planning Division dedicated to improving water quality with Kelly Keel as director," reports the Texas Water Resources Institute. "The division has three sections: Planning and Implementation, Monitoring and Assessment and the Houston Laboratory." Read the full story here.

News from Preserve Our Water

In the latest edition of Preserve Our Water's newsletter, the organization discusses: Current Blanco County drought conditions, Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District's drought stage, Jacob’s Well running dry, Central Texas' drought, an update to the GMA 9 Desired Future Conditions, and our own Hill Country Alliance 2009 Calendars. Read more after the jump.

Central Texas still running dry

"As winter nears, federal authorities describe South Texas, the Panhandle and most of West Texas as not experiencing even mild drought," writes Asher Price for the Austin American-Statesman. "But across Central Texas, drought has stifled water supplies already taxed by a hot summer and never-ending demand. Exact definitions differ, but drought is often described as a period when an area receives less than 75 percent of its average annual precipitation. Average yearly rainfall for Austin is 34 inches; so far this year, 15 inches have fallen." Read the full Statesman story here.

Why the 'rule of capture' is broken

"More than a decade of hard work by the Edwards Aquifer Authority could be washed down the drain by a recent 4th Court of Appeals opinion," writes Bruce Davidson for the San Antonio Express-News. "And a process being conducted by groundwater districts across the state to establish desired aquifer levels over the next 50 years is also in jeopardy...The EAA is preparing a discretionary petition for review asking the state's high court to weigh in on the matter." Read the full story here.

October 28, 2008

Texas drought could break 1950 record

"The current Texas drought could rival the record drought of the 1950s if weather conditions don't change soon," writes David Tewes for the Victoria Advocate. "Canyon Lake on the Guadalupe River has reached its lowest level ever since it was created in the early 1960s, breaking the previous record low set on Nov. 24, 1984." Read the full Advocate story here.


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The Latest News

Support HCA today by bidding on an Art Barrel and make plans to head to Dripping Springs Saturday for the Rainwater Revival!

The bidding is now open for the Rainwater Revival’s art barrels – professionally designed and decorated rain collection barrels sure to add a delightful yet purposeful accent to your yard. Funds from the auction support rainwater collection and conservation program grants to Hill Country schools. Learn more

The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve – A Western Travis County Asset Worth Learning About

Driving through western portions of Austin, maybe you’ve noticed scenic, tree-covered hills spreading across the landscape and wondered when they will become a new shopping area or residential development. While growth is inevitable, it is also important to preserve land for the environmental benefits it provides. Learn more

Protecting the Hill Country begins with an informed, engaged citizenry

Water is a hot topic in Texas – and it’s getting hotter. Register for Trib + Water to stay informed. This bi-weekly newsletter is brought to you at no cost by The Meadows Center for the Environment and The Texas Tribune.

The Vista Ridge Pipeline - a regional game changer

“The project is much too important and costly for San Antonio not to have a full and complete understanding about the reliability of the groundwater supply.” Read more from this open-letter by Dr. Curtis Chubb, rancher and groundwater expert, published in the Rivard Report. Citizens have the opportunity to address the San Antonio City Council each Wednesday at 6:00 pm. The Alamo Group of the Sierra Club has created a clearinghouse of articles and reports to keep you informed. SA City Council is likely to vote on the project Thursday, October 30th.

San Antonio invests 5 million in Bracken Cave!

“This historic decision puts us within reach of purchasing the entire tract of land and protecting the habitat Bracken’s bats have used for thousands of years.” Read more from Bat Conservation International. “San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the county, in part because of the vast natural resources of the region. It’s our responsibility to ensure we protect and conserve what makes this region incredibly special.” Councilman Ron Nirenburg, quoted in the Rivard Report.

The many reasons millennials are shunning cars

There's a lot of evidence that millennials don't drive as much — or care as much for cars in general — as previous generations their own age did. They're less likely to get driver's licenses. They tend to take fewer car trips, and when they do, those trips are shorter. They're also more likely than older generations to get around by alternative means: by foot, by bike, or by transit. There's still a lot of dispute, however, over exactly what these trends mean. Read more from the Washington Post.

Summit addresses Hill Country issues

"Everything from urban development to dance hall preservation was on the agenda at the Hill Country Alliance 2014 Leadership Summit, held Thursday at the Nimitz Hotel Ballroom." Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.

Keeping Open Spaces Open

“We are reaching a point in Texas where simply standing on common ground is not enough. The lives of urban and rural Texans are irreversibly intertwined, so we must all join forces to create and define initiatives and policies that conserve the common good, while protecting the heritage of private landowners.” Read more of David K. Langford's guest blog for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Harvest that Rain!

Most food growers rely on tap water to keep their plants alive during dry weather, but gardeners are discovering that chemicals in tap water harm the soil organisms that plants depend upon to absorb nutrients. As a result, more and more gardeners are storing rainwater. Read more from Sustainable Food Center.

Bracken Bat Cave needs your help

For the past year, San Antonio City officials, Bat Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and many other organizations and community leaders have been searching for a solution to avert a 3,500-home development over the Edwards Aquifer and adjacent to Bracken Cave Preserve. Next week, San Antonio's city council will meet to vote on whether to invest $5 million from their Edwards Aquifer Protection Program toward the purchase of the property and a conservation easement to protect aquifer recharge. Learn more from BCI.

Citizens Rule the Night at City Council

City Council chambers filled Wednesday evening with more than 100 people who signed up to speak for or against the proposed SAWS-Vista Ridge Consortium water agreement. Individuals were given two minutes to express their views, while group representatives were allotted five minutes. Read more from the Rivard Report.

When private property rights clash with the public good

“I have never understood why in Texas zoning laws are good for city mice but not for country mice, especially as we lose more and more of the open land that is necessary to our survival as a species every year, but that is the way it is and there seems to be no way to change it until Texans get tired of seeing our state gobbled up by strip malls and truck stops and march on the state capitol armed with shotguns and pruning hooks.” Read this personal story about the Hill Country, by Lonn Taylor, featured in The Big Bend Sentinel. Learn more about County Authority in Texas here.

Public Meeting: Vision for FM 150, October 16 in Driftwood

The public is invited to learn more about the process to develop a Roadway Character Plan for FM 150 from near Arroyo Ranch Road northwest through the Driftwood to RR 12 in Dripping Springs at an October 16 meeting. Hays County Commissioners Will Conley and Ray Whisenant are hosting the meeting to share information about the roadway and gather ideas from the public about what this important cross-county road needs to look like as changes are phased in to improve mobility and safety. Details

Have You Thought about the Hill Country Soundscape?

“..the effects of human endeavors all around the planet can be gauged by listening to the sounds of different habitats. Wild, urban, rural — they all can be interpreted.” Read more from Bernie Krause in “Call of the Wild,” featured in Sun Magazine. Find out what neighbors are doing through the Noise Pollution Clearning House.

Texas A&M reports loss of farms, ranches and forests

“Through Texas Land Trends, we have been able to raise awareness that ‘Yes, we have a lot of land in Texas,’ but we are losing it at a faster rate than most other states in the country, and that loss is having profound impacts on our agricultural base, our water resources and our native wildlife habitat,” Fitzsimons said. Read more about Land Trends.

The Oak Hill “Y” – A gateway to the Hill Country

A community workshop will be held October 9th from 6–8 pm as part of a “Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process,” a planning approach that invites the surrounding communities and neighborhoods to influence the design, so that it reflects their cultural and historic values and aesthetic preferences. Learn more about the event hosted by the CTRMA and TxDot. Explore http://Fix290.org for more information.

HCA's 2015 Calendar is Available for Sale!

HCA has released their 9th Texas Hill Country Calendar. Once again, this calendar delivers stunning photography while remaining an informative resource on Hill Country conservation. The stunning photographs featured throughout the 2015 calendar were chosen from nearly 400 submissions to HCA’s 2014 Photo Contest. Learn more

San Antonio a Step Closer to Controversial Pipeline

San Antonio is one step closer to buying some of the most expensive water ever sold in Texas, just as the deal is drawing more critics. Read more from Texas Tribune.

Be a citizen scientist for Wildlife Field Research

at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm on Oct. 6-11 Volunteers interested in learning about Hill Country wildlife and contributing to its scientific study are encouraged to become citizen scientists during the Wildlife Field Research “bio-blitz” taking place Oct. 6-11 at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Wildlife Field Research is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Learn more

In Cities Across Texas, Activists Battle Billboard Companies

The Highway Beautification Act will be 50 years old next year. As envisioned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, it was supposed to protect the natural landscape from billboards. Ever since its passage, scenic activists and billboard companies have been at war over the views along American highways. More from NPR.

SAWS Board to Vote on Water Deal, UTSA Panel to Follow

The San Antonio Water System Board will vote Monday on a $3.40-billion landmark water deal that would pipe in 50,000 acre-feet of water to San Antonio annually as soon as 2019, enough to meet 20% of the growing city’s future water needs. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Questions answered by SAWS Monday night

Monday’s vote by SAWS is step one, San Antonio City Council will ultimately consider and vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. Who is this water for? Where will it ultimately go? Who will ultimately pay and what are the long-term financial implications? Show up at UTSA Monday night for a balanced panel discussion. Get educated and get involved. Event details

Community groups question the rush to approve SAWS Vista Ridge Pipeline

“The 522 page draft contract for this $3.4 billion deal was posted on-line on September 23rd, giving the SAWS Board and the public less than a week to review a deal that will have far reaching implications for our community, including an estimated 16% rate hike for SAWS customers.” Read more from GEAA. As Margaret Day of the Alamo Sierra Club points out “to be sustainable, aquifer drawdown should be no greater than recharge.” Read this opinion piece from the Alamo Sierran Word.

The time is now to speak up in Travis County

Travis County is seeking public comments by Wednesday, Oct 1st on their Land, Water and Transportation plan. Read the plan, take the survey and/or send your comments via email. Meanwhile, CAMPO is taking comments until Oct 6th on a variety of projects including a study to construct a major tollway across sensitive preserve lands. “Traffic solution costly, harmful to environment” Read “City to oppose proposed tollroad” in the Austin American Statesmen.

Public Forum on Trinity Aquifer, Oct. 7

The League of Women Voters of Comal Area invites the public to attend “The Trinity Aquifer: A Shared Resource/ A Shared Responsibility,” to be held October 7 in Canyon Lake. “If you drink water in Comal County, you are likely to be drinking Trinity water, or you soon will be. It is up to all of us to learn more about this resource, no matter where in Comal County we live.” Learn more

Evaporation – a loss for humans and wildlife in Texas

It's no secret that drought has been a major factor in the declining water levels of our lakes and reservoirs here in Texas. But there is another factor that has has received very little attention - evaporation. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

New streetlights to make for darker skies

The stars may seem a little brighter over Kerrville next year. The Kerrville Public Utility Board last week set aside about $734,000 to upgrade 2,000 city street lights to “full cut-off,” high-efficiency LED lamps that won’t shine light upward. Read More from the Kerrville Daily Times.

Water Crisis: Time to Get Serious!

Last week’s “Water Crisis” event hosted by The Hays County Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) drew a huge crowd and continues to create a lot of meaningful conversations about how rural lands west of I-35 will be developed. Learn more

Big changes for the Cibolo Nature Center (and FARM!)

Even as Cibolo Nature Center staffers celebrate a major milestone with the completed restoration of the historic Herff farmhouse, they're setting ambitious new goals. Read more from SA Express-News.

It Will Take an Insane Amount of Rain Before the Highland Lakes Recover

Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. We’re sitting just below normal. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most. “The watershed that helps our water supplies isn’t here in Austin; it’s way up into the counties to the north of us." Read more from State Impact.

Trend Of Land Fragmentation, Rural Loss Continues In Texas

Land fragmentation has been a growing problem for Texas, and by all appearances it isn’t going to slow any time soon. The state’s population continues to grow rapidly, and those residents have an insatiable appetite for land. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

No Land. No Water.

As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.

Fall Camping Workshops Announced for Outdoor Families

With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst

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.

Where is the Hill Country?

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.

Wild Pigs!

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.

"I’m a NIMBY and proud"

“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.

CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11

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

What’s all this fuss about a Parkway through Oak Hill?

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.

HCA Transmission Line Workshop Generates Crowd

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 Tale of 2 Water Districts: 1 Aquifer, 2 Strategies

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.

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Upcoming Events

October

October 23 in Boerne - 2014 Boerne Water Forum: Community Growth and Water Quality ARE Compatible - Details

October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details

October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details

October 25 in Wimberley - A Whole Farm Approach to Improving the Water Cycle, presented by HMI - Details

October 29 in Austin - Great Places and Healthy People, presented by Congress for the New Urbanism - Details

October 30 in Austin - Balcones Canyonland Preserve Infrastructure Workshop - Details

November

November 3 in New Braunfels - 2014 ASACC & Lone Star Rail District Legislative Session Luncheon with State Representatives Donna Howard, Ruth Jones McClendon and Doug Miller - Details

November 11 in Austin - Meeting of the Austin Sierra Club - Austin Water Resources Planning Task Force with Sharlene Leurig - Details

November 15 in Johnson City - Sneak Peak Fundraiser at the Hill Country Science Mill: A fun foray into the (not-quite-finished) science museum - Details



See more upcoming events


2015 HCA Calendar

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Check out the top photos from our 2014 HCA Photo Contest


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



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Maps

Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.

HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool

 
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