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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

Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25

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

San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project

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

Hill Country Alliance Announces Winners of Photography Contest for 2015 Calendar

“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 worldwide,” said Milan J. Michalec, board president of HCA. Read More

Our Desired Future at the Legislature and in the Field

“The 2013 Legislative Session may have been all about water, but it's clear from the Committee testimony that 2015 will be the year of groundwater. Across Central Texas, groundwater is the next big play. But is it really the only alternative to drought-stricken reservoirs?” Learn more about the work of Sharlene Leurig as she travels Texas uncovering and telling the stories of our water.

Subdivision on subdivision violence in the Texas Hill Country

"This is often the case -- and is happening more and more in the increasingly crowded Hill Country suburbs of Austin: Recent transplants bristling at the prospect of new development next door. It's probably true that a new subdivision will ruin Hill Country views -- but weren't those views also ruined with the previous subdivision and the one before that? Wells could very well go dry, the night stars will surely be more obscured, roads will see more traffic, and waterways may be polluted: Obviously the risk of those things coming to pass only increases with more development. Thus, subdivision on subdivision violence." Read the full story from Statesman.com.

During Drought, Once-Mighty Texas Rice Belt Fades Away

“This is the state’s youngest land – a vast accumulation of sediment, slowly left behind during ages of floods. From the high Hill Country, the Colorado River carried dirt down to the flatlands, extending Texas’ coastline over millions of years. The region was literally created by water.” Read the full story from State Impact.

Hill Country Land Trust Celebrates 15 Years

The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, is celebrating 15 years of land conservation work. In 1998, a group of like-minded people including Trudy Vars Harris, Terry Hershey, and others from the Fredericksburg area started meeting as a group with the goal in mind to conserve and protect the Hill Country from the break up of family lands, loss of wildlife habitat, and degradation of water resources and scenic views. Learn more

Enchanted Rock International ‘Dark Sky’ Status!

Copper Breaks and Enchanted Rock, which were awarded the highest “Gold-tier” night skies status by IDA, join Big Bend National Park and the City of Dripping Springs as the only locations in Texas to have earned the coveted Dark Sky Places recognition. Learn more

CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11

Today the supply of water for our area is adequate. But we know additional growth is bringing many more people and businesses. As responsible, foresighted citizens, we must consider how we can assure a reliable supply of water for our own future, and for those who follow us. To help us all learn more about the risks facing our community and our future, CARD will host a free Community Meeting September 11 in Wimberley. Details

LCRA Accepting Applications for Regional Councils

LCRA is accepting applications through August for membership on its four Regional Councils, groups of volunteers who provide an important link between LCRA and the communities it serves. Regional Council members meet several times a year to discuss regional topics involving LCRA services in their communities. Members pass along information from council meetings to their local communities to provide a clear, accurate understanding of issues related to LCRA. Read more

Limits to outdoor watering become a permanent part of the Texas landscape

Cities across Texas have adopted water conservation policies that limit outdoor lawn irrigation as a way to reduce water waste and stretch existing water supplies. The City of Fort Worth is among the most recent to adopt no more than twice per week lawn watering as part of their “always-in-effect” water conservation policy. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

LCRA and City of Mason award $24,000 to Odeon Preservation Association for LED lighting

The Odeon Preservation Association (OPA) will be able to purchase and install LED stage lighting for Mason’s historic Odeon Theater with the help of a $24,000 community development grant. Learn more

The Source: Calls For Development Freeze Over Recharge Zone

Water conservation advocates are calling on the San Antonio Water System to cease permits for service to new developments over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone until a plan for growth can be established. The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance wants to ensure less ground cover for the area that refills our water supply. Read more from TPR.

"Destination Junction" Community Meeting All Invited

The South Llano Watershed Alliance invites all persons interested in protecting and restoring the confluence of the North Llano River and South Llano River to attend a community meeting on Thursday, July 31st at 6pm in the Kimble County Courthouse. Topics to include: Strengths of our Water Resources, Fundamentals of Hill Country Rivers, creating a Land of Living Waters Nature Center and Effective Water Quality Protection Measures for Development in the Hill Country. Learn more

Can brush control program enhance water supplies?

“A state program meant to encourage old-school range management and new-school water saving methods has become the subject of a peculiarly Texas controversy. The State Soil and Water Conservation Board will decide Monday how to disburse millions of dollars to clear brush from ranches in the name of boosting water supplies. Money has already been set aside for projects to begin this summer.” Read more from Asher Price at Statesman.com.

Call for 2015 Rainwater Revival Exhibitors!

HCA is currently looking for Rainwater Harvesting and related businesses and organizations to exhibit at the 2015 Rainwater Revival! This one-day “edu-fest” is the perfect opportunity to meet one-on-one with citizens interested in water conservation, rainwater harvesting and native landscaping. Become an exhibitor today.

Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop Just added for August at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Register now, class size limited. Details

To protect aquifer, limit SAWS service

“Now that San Antonio Water Systems is considering acquisition of new water supplies from the Vista Ridge project, the prospect that these supplies will be used to expand development over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone looms large. By approving these utility service agreements, SAWS opens up new areas of highly sensitive aquifer lands to high density development.” Read an open letter to SAWS by Annalisa Peace as published in the San Antonio Express News.

Conservation Groups Encourage Input on State Water Funding Rules

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has proposed agency rules to govern the use of a new state water project fund approved by voters last November with the passage of Proposition 6. State conservation groups are encouraging Texans to take the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rules. Hearings on the rules begin next Thursday, July 24 in San Antonio, with additional public hearings set for August 13 in San Angelo and August 21 in Fort Worth. In addition TWDB is taking comments via email and postal mail or through a portal on the agency’s website. Read more from Ken Kramer. A guest commentary was published in the San Antonio Express News today by Luke Metzger of Environment Texas. Read “State Water Fund Rules a Big Deal.”

Cibolo Conservancy sets Aug. 6 workshop to help families protect land, get tax incentives

A workshop exploring how families can legally protect and preserve the legacy of their land – and be eligible for tax relief at the same time – will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm auditorium. Details

Texas Tribune Q&A with Karen Ford

“There are two schools of thought. One is we are not going to build our way out of this, and I’ve heard other people say we’re not going to conserve our way out of this. I have to take issue. I think we really are going to have to adopt as a citizenry a new water ethic in the way we think about and use water. And the way we look at our landscapes. And the way we value our large landscapes and understanding the role that they play in our water supply.” Read More

HCA's Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop Returns October 14-17 in San Antonio

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Register now, class size limited. Details

AgriLife Extension sets Living Waters Conference for August 19 in Junction

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will conduct the Living Waters Conference beginning at 8 a.m. Aug. 19 at the Texas Tech Junction Center, 254 Red Raider Lane in Junction. “This is a well-rounded program that centers on topics relating to watersheds, riparian areas and best management practices for managing cattle, horses and feral hogs along these fragile environmental areas.” Details

Plans for Texas 45 Southwest bring quest to document historical sites

“Environmentalists eye the proposed road’s path over the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Fans of the tollway note how it would provide an alternative to congested roadways. History enthusiasts, though, see what’s not on the map. They see land that the Spanish first traveled in the late 1600s, that stagecoaches traversed beginning in the mid-1800s, and they worry that the proposed tollway — and the additional development it would likely bring — would erase that rich past. That little-heard concern about growth has prompted the Travis County Historical Commission to begin a survey of properties in Southwest Travis County.” Read more from Andra Lim at Statesman.com here.

How to Inspire Millions More Americans to Ride Bicycles

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users — busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” said David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.” Read the full story from the Rivard Report here.

Proposed Truck Stop along the Llano River draws concerns

Hill Country conservationists including HCA have expressed concerns over a proposed Pilot Flying J truck stop to be constructed close to the North Llano River in Junction. “The South Llano Watershed Alliance (SLWA) is a non-profit organization of landowners and interested stakeholders whose mission is to preserve and enhance the South Llano River and adjoining watersheds by encouraging land and water stewardship through collaboration, education, and community participation. Since our inception in 2009, SLWA has partnered with other local, state, and federal agencies and organizations to develop and participate in programs that to date have brought in nearly $3 million in research and restoration efforts in the local community.” Read the SLWA letter of concern urging for more time for due diligence.

LCRA and PEC Award $25,000 to Old Blanco County Courthouse for Masonry Repair

The Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society will be able to repair masonry and stone on the building’s exterior, thanks to a $25,000 community development grant. The Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative provided the grant to repair and replace mortar and stone in critical areas of the old courthouse on Blanco’s downtown square. Details

Water Planners Focus on Bigger Texas, Not a Hotter One

After Texans overwhelmingly approved spending $2 billion in public funds on new water infrastructure projects last November, Republicans and Democrats alike hailed the state’s ability to solve its water woes in the wake of explosive growth and debilitating drought. But as state water planners prepare to spend that money and address Texas’ water needs in the coming decades, they are only planning for a bigger Texas — not a hotter one. More from the Texas Tribune.

Travis County attempts to guide surging growth in unincorporated areas

"One difficulty is that the county has little say in what ultimately gets built on unincorporated land." This issue is felt in Bexar, Kendall, Comal, Hays, Burnet, Bandera and all of the rapidly expanding counties throughout the Hill Country. Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman. Learn more about the County Authority issue here.

HCC Ruby Ranch – A Conservation Success

The Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) announces a new conservation easement. 747-acre Ruby Ranch, a historical property in Hays County, is the final piece of the puzzle that will result in over 10,000 acres of contiguous open space. As rapid development continues in the region, it has become harder and harder for families to keep lands together and intact. Like many ranching families, the Ruby’s felt the burden of these pressures. This property has been in the Ruby family since the 1930s. Read more from HCC.

Taller billboards could be coming to Texas

Billboards designed to get people’s attention could be getting taller. In a proposal the Texas Department of Transportation has rolled out, drivers on interstates, major roadways and rural areas could see signs as high as 65 feet tall. “It may seem like a small thing coming from a city, but it’s really a big deal and can really negatively impact your experience of Texas Hill Country,” said Katherine Romans with the Hill Country Alliance. Comments can be submitted through July 14th. Read the full story from KXAN. Learn more about Billboards in the Hill Country from HCA here.

GEAA making a difference in and around San Antonio

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) has consistently opposed utility service contracts for new developments in the Edwards Aquifer watershed. Of particular concern are contracts for sewer service, which allow for much higher density development and have the potential to pollute the Aquifer with high volume sewage leaks. Find out how you can get involved and influence the upcoming SAWS board agenda, July 17th. Learn more from GEAA.

Who Stole the Water?

As the water crisis in Texas continues to escalate, it is becoming a topic of national interest. This article illustrates that the prospect of dried up springs, streams, and lakes in our Hill Country and the bays of Texas is provoking anger far and wide. One thing to note, “waste” is NOT permitted under the rule of capture, although the article alludes that it is. The author Paul Solotaroff, holds back nothing; ecology, water rights, politics, greed, all part of the story. Read more from Men’s Journal.

Rainwater harvesting communities find fertile ground in Hill Country

While traditional developers scramble for scarce water resources, sustainable development in the Hill Country is happening right under our noses. Several water-neutral projects incorporating rainwater harvesting systems are in progress and more are in the planning stages. With proper consideration and non-invasive infrastructure, the Hill Country gets enough rain even - in the worst drought year - to supply a home’s water needs. Local builder and The Hill Country Alliance’s own Paul Sumrall is featured in the following Austin American Statesman news story written by Andra Lin. Click here to read.

Here’s 5 Challenges to Texas Water That Might Surprise You

"Beyond those two big-ticket items — how to pay for water supplies and how to regulate water underground — there are some other smaller challenges the state faces when it comes to water. At a hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee Thursday, several state agencies told lawmakers about the water challenges they’re dealing with." Read more from State Impact.

Green Spaces Alliance Hires New Executive Director

Julia Murphy has been tapped as the next Executive Director of Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas. As the creator of the San Antonio Bikes program at the City of San Antonio's Office of Sustainability, Julia has managed a number of important initiatives as the city is changing its image from a fat city to a fit city and a stronger environmental conscience. Read more

Ensuring sufficient water supplies in Texas

As the current drought sweeping Texas and the Southwest continues, state leaders work to create rules and procedures for wisely administering the $2 billion in water infrastructure loan funds approved overwhelmingly by legislators and voters in 2013. Investments made through this program are critical to the future of Texas and will come none too soon, particularly those investments related to water conservation. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.

Comprehensive rating system released for developing sustainable landscapes

The most comprehensive system for developing sustainable landscapes, the SITES v2 Rating System, has been released by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ program for use by landscape practitioners, developers, policy-makers and others that work in land design and development. Learn More

TPWD announces wildlife management area seminars

The Kerr and Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Areas are planning on opening their doors for a series of workshops on a wide range of wildlife topics. The three-part series will be organized with a combination of lectures and outdoor field-trips. These outings are free and open to the public, though a reservation is appreciated. Workshops run August through October. More details can be found here.

The Ebb and Flow of a Sustainable Water Plan

As the drought in Texas has intensified over the last several years, the water plan has taken on new prominence. A new report from the Texas Center for Policy Studies examines whether the planning process is producing useful results, and, if not, how it can be improved. Read more from Mary Kelly.

Texas Watershed Steward Workshop, July 17 in Dripping Springs

The AgriLife Extension will be hosting a free, one-day educational workshop designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by getting involved in local watershed protection and management activities. Learn more

First Home Powered by the Sun in Mason

Mason County Habitat for Humanity completed the first Solar PV (photovoltaic) system powered home in the city of Mason. The house was constructed to the latest green building standards and to the 2102 building code energy requirements. Read more from Mason County News.

Rainwater harvesting: simple idea, big benefits

Installing a rainwater collection system costs about the same or less than drilling a well but offers multiple advantages, making it the more economical and environmentally-friendly choice in the long run. Most importantly, rainwater collection systems do not deplete underlying aquifers the way wells do, making them much more reliable sources of water. Read more from the Hondo Anvil Herald.

Don't count your El Niño before it hatches

Much has been said in recent weeks and months about the development of an El Niño system this fall that could bring a "wetter than average" season to Texas and the Hill Country, possibly ending our region's recent drought. The latest satellite images have led some to urge caution in an overly optimistic El Niño forecast. Find more details in this AgriLife article.

Texas Today: A Sea of the Wrong Grasses

This article from 2010 contains timeless insight about exotic grasses in our landscape. "With the elimination of a few native weeds, wildflowers and bunchgrasses in a pasture overcome with an exotic grass, comes elimination of a few bugs that live only on a single wildflower, a few weed seeds, and a few quail nesting sites." When you extrapolate that across Hill Country, you start seeing fewer butterflies, insects, quail, native wildflowers, grasses and other species- declines that compound year after year. A worthwhile reminder of the importance of natives. Read more

Better Lights for Better Nights Conference

The City of Dripping Springs, in partnership with the International Dark Sky Association Texas (IDA Texas), will host the Better Lights for Better Nights Conference on Friday, August 15, 2014 at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park Events Center. Details

TWDB Board to approve financial assistance at Board meeting on June 18

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will hold a Board meeting to approve financial assistance for numerous water projects across the state. Projects to be considered for financial assistance include emergency water supply and water supply projects, wastewater treatment plant improvements, a new wastewater treatment plant and an agricultural conservation center. Learn more

Hill Country Alliance Urges Texas Water Development Board to Make Conservation Priority in Funding State Water Projects

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) soon will announce draft rules and priorities for how SWIFT funds will be spent. In advance of that announcement, the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) convened a roundtable discussion in Blanco on June 4th where HCA board, advisory team and other water and land stewardship experts discussed a range of solutions that could save money and provide water to see the state through future severe droughts. Read more

Rainwater Revival call for sponsors and exhibitors

HCA is currently accepting sponsor and exhibitor applications for the 5th annual Rainwater Revival to be held October 25th in Dripping Springs. Help HCA promote rainwater harvesting as a viable Hill Country water supply. Rainwater collection professionals and enthusiasts will gather for this “edufest” designed to teach and inspire the practice of rainwater collection. This event will be open to the public and free to attend. Learn more and get involved.

TWA On-Demand Webinar Previews on iTunes U

The Texas Wildlife Association has collaborated with the Texas Education Agency to create On-demand youth webinars. This educational tool for teachers and parents is a great resource for teaching our next generation about taking care of the natural world. Learn more]

Smart Growth Online

Around the county, communities are choosing healthy solutions for how our cities and towns respond to population growth. Smart Growth Online is a great resource for the latest trends in green infrastructure, urban agriculture, walkable and transit oriented developments and innovative development practices. The next generation is demanding a better way than traditional sprawl patterns. Find helpful articles, events and resources here.

Three Hill Country Schools Win Rainwater Revival Grants to Fund Water Conservation Projects

Impressed by the quality of proposals for its rainwater harvesting and conservation grant program, the Hill Country Alliance is awarding three – instead of the planned two – $1,000 grants to Hill Country schools to help teachers and students design and implement water-saving techniques. Read more

Severe drought calls for conservation throughout basin

There is nothing more important to our communities than a reliable water supply – our homes, our businesses, our very lives, depend on it. As we enter the seventh summer of this severe drought – and despite the recent rain in Central Texas – it is more essential than ever that everyone in the lower Colorado River basin do their part to conserve water. Read more

SARA Announces Inaugural Environmental Film Fest

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) has announced it will host the agency’s first Environmental Film Fest to help commemorate National Rivers Month in June. Learn more

Our Texas Drought, What’s Happening?

“If we want to have a Texas similar to the one our parents enjoyed, with good clean water, reasonably priced food, healthy rivers and quality bays, we are going to have to do the right thing starting at home and then carry those ideals to our counties, towns, and to Austin in particular. WATER IS LIFE!” Read more from Mike Mecke, published in Ranch & Rural Living Magazine.

Guarding San Antonio’s Eternal Water Future

“The path to a secure water future – and thus, our economic prosperity – was largely written when this area was first settled over the Edwards Aquifer centuries ago. Sound planning will be necessary to ensure clean and abundant water for generations to come and to maintain the aquifer as a primary strategic economic and environmental asset.” Read more from San Antonio Councilman Ron Nirenberg published in the Rivard Report.

Debate over Substation near Fredericksburg

“(Public reaction) is ranging from really high negative feelings, just outrage. I’ve talked to some landowners that were in tears,” Katherine Peake, an area landowner who also serves as president of the Hill Country Land Trust, said. “I’m convinced it’s needed. It’s just how can we minimize the impact of the lines and the substation?” Read more from the Fredericksburg Standard.

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

Rainwater harvesting ‘soaking in’ as way to conserve Texas’ water resources

After a long dry period, many parts of the state have finally received some badly needed rain, and those with rainwater harvesting systems have been reaping the rewards of this belated gift from Mother Nature, said Texas A&M AgriLife water resources experts. Read more

Austin Rides to the Front

Did you know that Austin’s green lanes, or cycle tracks, like the one you see on Guadalupe along The Drag or on Blue Bonnet Lane were inspired by the Netherlands and Denmark, where one-third to one-half of residents travel by bike daily? The improvements to Austin’s bike-friendly infrastructure and culture, including its recent designation as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, is featured in this month’s Planning Magazine, the magazine for the American Planning Association.

Milan J. Michalec elected President of the Cow Creek GCD

“I’m honored for the vote of confidence given by my fellow directors,” Michalec said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to maintain, and more importantly, to advance the reputation of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District as one of the most forward-thinking and effective districts in Texas. Read more from the Boerne Star.

Meet Andrew Murr

Former Kimble County Judge, Republican Andrew Murr won the Republican nomination for House District 53 last night. This seat includes Bandera, Crockett, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, Medina, Menard, Real, Schleicher, Sutton counties, a district represented by Harvey Hilderbran since 1988. Andrew’s an 8th generation Texan, descendant of a pioneering family of one of our brave defenders of the Alamo, and grandson of former Governor Coke R. Stevenson. Learn more

Award-winning rainwater capture system crowning achievement of retiring Bandera High teacher

Congratulations to Brad Flink, who’s RWH project was honored by the Texas Water Development Board with its Texas Rain Catcher Award. HCA’s Rainwater Revival grant program provided support to document this project and create a model for other campuses. The stormwater retention and reuse system created by students is capable of holding 84,000 gallons for irrigating the Bulldogs' baseball field. Read more from Zeke MacCormak and the SA Express News.

Support for Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is a comprehensive approach to site planning, design, and pollution prevention that attempts to minimize downstream impacts of land development by matching the pre-development runoff condition and creating a more sustainable and ecologically functional landscape. Read more from the Central Texas Land/Water Sustainability Forum.

Lawn alternatives gain popularity but ‘carpet grass’ remains norm

At a glance, Boerne shows up as an emerald dot on a NASA map of lawns. The area’s cultivated green St. Augustine or “carpet” grass also figures as a fraction of Duke University data in which 40.5 million acres are said to be covered by lawns across the nation. Accompanying that NASA-sponsored lawn-map is a statistic claiming that more than 7 billion gallons of water are used every year to maintain lawns. Lawns are, according to that site, “the single largest irrigated crop in America in terms of surface area.” Read part one of the two-part series from Boerne Star.

EPA Releases EnviroAtlas Ecosystem Mapping Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released EnviroAtlas, a web-based interactive tool that integrates over 300 separate data layers, helps decision makers understand the implications of planning and policy decisions on our fragile ecosystems and the communities who depend on goods and services from these ecosystems. Learn more

Landowners in transmission line study area encouraged to send input by this Friday, May 30

A proposed transmission line and substation will affect Gillespie, Blanco and Kendall Counties. LCRA is requesting input using its “Project Questionnaire.” by this Friday. Read this helpful “Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions” fact sheet from Braun and Gresham. Learn more about the recent public meeting, links for additional information and what to expect next here. “We can insist on guarantees from LCRA and CTEC that once located, the lines and the substation will be built with regard for minimum aesthetic and environmental impact.” Read this letter to the editor from Hill Country neighbors.

Thinking about becoming a Master Naturalist?

The Hill Country Master Naturalists are now recruiting for their Fall Class. With a mission to “develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.” HCMN works in Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Edwards, Real, Kimble, Mason and Menard Counties. Learn more about how to apply. There are several other Master Naturalist programs in the Hill Country. Find a chapter near you.

Managers Discuss Hill Country’s Water Resources And The Drouth

The Trinity Aquifer and the Upper Guadalupe River are major components of the hill country’s available water supply. While these water resources typically do not receive as much attention as the more prominent Edwards Aquifer, for example, with the rapidly growing population in this part of the state their importance has never been more crucial. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

Electric Project Open House Draws Large Crowd

An estimated 200 people attended an open house May 15th in Stonewall to learn more about the proposed Blumenthal substation and 138-kV transmission line project that will affect that area. Representatives from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Central Texas Electric Cooperative (CTEC) and the consulting firm Power Engineers, were on hand to answer questions and receive input regarding the study area. Learn more

Environmental and economic protection through water supply development

Recent rainfall in Austin delivered more water to the Gulf, but little to lakes Travis and Buchanan, the area’s water supply reservoirs. With near average rainfall the last two years and the lakes continuing to fall, a historic flood or an extremely wet year is necessary to replenish central Texas water supplies and avoid the unthinkable. Read more from Tom Hegemier of the Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum.

Western Hill Country Ranch honored by TPWD

Congratulations to Ruthie and Johnnie Russell for being recognized by TPWD as a Lone Star Land Steward. The Russell’s chose to enact a conservation easement on their property because of growing pressure of land fragmentation. “Ranchettes make it difficult to conserve land on the scale necessary to keep habitat intact and ecological systems functioning” Ruthie said. Read more from the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and enjoy a great video about the Sycamore Ranch here.

Wildscape proves to be sustainable landscape alternative

“As the drought deepens, as water rationing becomes the norm, as human population booms and as indicator wildlife populations drastically decline, people are stuck wondering what kind of world we will leave to the next generations,” Read more from George Cates of Native American Seed, published in the Boerne Star.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Awarded Grant to Support Landowners in the Pedernales River Watershed

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was recently awarded $100,000 in grants to protect the Texas state fish, Guadalupe Bass, in the Pedernales River basin. TPWD will be working with the Hill Country Alliance to identify willing landowners for habitat conservation work within the Pedernales catchment- an area totaling more than 800,000 acres in the heart of the Hill Country. Funds will be available on a competitive basis for cost-share projects, and will benefit the whole health of the river system. Learn More

Comfort Heritage Foundation Recognizes David K. Langford

David K. Langford is being honored for his local stewardship and the book, Hillingdon Ranch: Four Season, Six Generations. Langford is one of four recipients of the Comfort Heritage Foundation's annual award for outstanding contributions to the preservation of the heritage and culture of Comfort. The awards will be presented May 31st. Read More

Seeing Stars in Dripping Springs

As Texas booms, the state is less and less able to brag that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. In the big cities and the sprawling suburbs, and even in Far West Texas near the McDonald Observatory, light pollution is increasingly limiting our ability to enjoy the night sky. But the Hill Country town of Dripping Springs is showing that the starry skies can be preserved or restored even as the state grows. Associate Editor Forrest Wilder writes about the growing dark skies movement and how unlike many environmental woes—climate change, for instance, or the extinction of species—light pollution is eminently reversible. More from the Texas Observer.

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.

Enlightening New Report on Texas Water Planning

A report issued by the non-profit Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS) finds that the current water planning process in Texas tends to over-estimate future water demand and under-estimate the potential for making better use of existing supplies. “This report shows that, with more reasonable demand projections and better use of conservation and drought management, the demand/supply gap in 2060 is less than one-half that predicted by the current 2012 State Water Plan issued by TWDB. Read more and download the report from TCPS. Read more from the Texas Tribune, “How Much Water Will Texas Really Need by 2060?”

Fair Oaks Ranch project raises water concerns in Comal County

“The Reserve at Fair Oaks Ranch is exactly the kind of proposed development that Rep. Doug Miller long has cited in calls to create a groundwater conservation district in Comal County…after four years of litigation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently gave up its efforts to force Comal and Travis counties to create groundwater districts or join existing ones in neighboring counties.” “We would have liked to see the process continue,” said Milan J. Michalec, president of the Hill Country Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting natural resources. “There should be a district there and pumping should be managed by the appropriate authority.” - Read more from SA Express-News.

Landowners in Gillespie, Blanco and Kendall Counties

An open house will be held this Thursday, May 15th regarding a new LCRA electric substation and transmission line project in the Blumenthal area east of Fredericksburg. The meeting will be held at the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce from 5:30 – 7:30. Learn more and let your neighbors know.

San Marcos to offer rebates for rainwater harvest systems

The City of San Marcos Public Works Department is implementing a new program to help its customers conserve water. Through this program water customers can receive rebates for purchasing and installing rain barrels and large rainwater tank systems. Private home systems may qualify for up to $5,000, while commercial, institutional and multi-family systems may receive as much as $20,000 in rebates. Learn More

Keep Rivers Flowing

“Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers,” is a 3-part webinar series designed to inform people about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries. If you missed session one, presentations delivered by Myron Hess, Andy Sansom and Brian Richter are posted on the Texas Living Waters website. Mark your calendars and register now for the next two sessions scheduled for May 29th and June 25th. Great work by our friends at Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

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

May tour of Night Sky events scheduled in the Hill Country

HCA is hosting Night Sky educational programs the week of May 12th – 16th in Fredericksburg, Llano, Marble Falls and at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The HCA Night Sky Team welcomes Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory back to the Hill Country to teach and inspire about proper lighting for the night sky. This is one of our most widely popular educational programs; we are discovering a growing regional consensus about the importance of protecting our starry Hill Country sky. Learn More

Hill Country Alliance Adds New Staff to Focus on Water Policy and Landowner Outreach Programs

The Hill Country Alliance is pleased to welcome two new full-time staff members, Charlie Flatten and Katherine Romans, who will respectively manage the organization’s water policy and landowner outreach programs. Read More

Water Development Board’s ombudsman will help towns navigate the process

Senator Troy Fraser and Carolos Rubinstein visited Fredericksburg last week to introduce TWDB’s new “rural ombudsman” Doug Shaw. “We hope underground aquifer storage becomes commonplace, as it is less intrusive than new reservoirs and it suffers less evaporation….But everyone will have to pitch in to begin thinking about and using water in more efficient ways.” Read more from the Fredericksburg Standard.

Bandera High School Among TWDB’s Texas Rain Catcher Award Winners

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) announced recently that Bandera High School is among the winners of its annual Texas Rain Catcher Award, a rainwater harvesting competition and recognition program. The award recognizes excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas, promotes the technology, and educates the public. Learn More

Wind farm and transmission line updates from SOSHE

Final CREZ lines have been completed, a public meeting will be held in Stonewall May 15th regarding the Blumenthal Substation and new transmission line, The first major wind farm in Central Texas is now online in Mills County. Learn more from the most recent Save Our Scenic Hill Country (SOSHE) newsletter.

Strong Towns Curbside Chat Thursday, May 8th, 6–7:30pm at the LBJ Museum in San Marcos

Meet Chuck Marohn, President of Strong Towns for a candid talk and conversation about the future of America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods. “The current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This approach uses public dollars inefficiently, destructively subsidizes one type of development over another and leaves massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.” Event Details

Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop

The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will host a workshop from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. May 13 in Kerrville for area residents interested in land and water stewardship in the Upper Guadalupe watershed. Learn More

City Wastewater Discharge May Threaten Clear-running Creeks and Water Wells

Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More

Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Starts April 30

"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More

Common Misperceptions Regarding Land and Wildlife Management in Central Texas

There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the Hill Country regarding land management, in addition to a lot of good information. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the bad from the good. Misinformation can come from a variety of sources – the coffee shop, the feed store, magazine articles, well meaning neighbors and even natural resource professionals. By clarifying some of the common misperceptions, people will be able to make better decisions regarding natural resources. Steve’s writings are timeless. Read more from Steve Nelle and educate your neighbors.

Join HCA at Upcoming Bennett Trust Education Program: Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau

The Bennett Trust will host its first ever land stewardship and education conference April 23-25 in Kerrville. Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, will deliver the keynote address on the history and legacy of the Edwards Plateau. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit local ranches, vineyards and orchards to learn more about sustainable practices in horticulture, forage production and wildlife management. Learn More

TWDB opens SWIFT for public comment

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has opened their State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) rules making process for public comment. Participation in the rules making process is critical to ensure that the intentions of the State Legislature are carried out in the long-term administration of the State’s SWIFT funds. The HCA has submitted a list of recommendations to the TWDB that will help ensure spring and stream-flow sustainability in the Hill Country.

PEC Candidate Forum April 24th in Johnson City

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is hosting a candidates forum for two board of director seats up for election this year. The meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at PEC Headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. The event will also include discussion of a ballot referendum on whether to switch to single-member district elections for board directors. Learn more about the candidates from the San Marcos Mercury. Learn more about the process and forum from the PEC.

Hays County makes pitch for agency to secure, divvy up water

The Hays County Commissioners Court is actively searching for partners in a quest to supply water for the future growth expected west of I-35. Additionally, developers, water marketers, and local politicians are looking for new sources of water that will provide for that growth. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer east of I-35 is being marketed as an abundant resource ready for export into the Hill Country that would supplement the Hill Country’s already strained Trinity Aquifer. This Austin American Statesman article by Andra Lim reports on a recent Hays, Travis and Williamson combined County Commissioners Court meeting to explore the formation of a regional water grid that would pipe water from Bastrop and Lee Counties to points west of I-35.

Hays County makes pitch for agency to secure, divvy up water

The Hays County Commissioners Court is actively searching for partners in a quest to supply water for the future growth expected west of I-35. Additionally, developers, water marketers, and local politicians are looking for new sources of water that will provide for that growth. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer east of I-35 is being marketed as an abundant resource ready for export into the Hill Country that would supplement the Hill Country’s already strained Trinity Aquifer. This Austin American Statesman article by Andra Lim reports on a recent Hays, Travis and Williamson combined County Commissioners Court meeting to explore the formation of a regional water grid that would pipe water from Bastrop and Lee Counties to points west of I-35.

Sky Lewey, HCA Board Member receives Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Award

Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.

To Deal With Drought, Texas Needs to Manage Growth

“With the exception of the lower Rio Grande Valley and small parts of Far West Texas, much of the state has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,” reads TWDB’s most recent report. “This doesn’t bode well for the next six months. A dry winter generally portends a dry spring and summer.” Read more from Nextcity.org.

Amazing rally for Bracken Bat Cave

Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.

The Great Grassland Myth of the Texas Hill Country

How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.

Georgetown moves to limit residential lawns and landscaping to save water

“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.

The High Cost of San Antonio’s North-South Water Divide

The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More

TWDB launches Interactive State Water Plan Website

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More

A more “Night Skies” friendly community

It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.

More News

Upcoming Events

August

August 19 in Junction - CANCELED - AgriLife Living Waters event

August 26 in Austin - Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council & Lone Star Rail District Discussion on the Future of Transportation & Reception with State Representative Larry Phillips - Details

September

September 6 in Fredericksburg - HCA Landowner Workshop: Discussion of the Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line - Details

Sepbember 8-12 in Austin - 6th International Workshop on Catchment Hydrological Modeling and Data Assimilation - Details

September 11 in Wimberley - Community Water Meeting, hosted by CARD - Details

September 12 in Kendalia - 2014 New Landowner Series: Wildlife and Range Management, Brush Work and Sculpting - 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

See more upcoming events


2015 Calendar

HCA's 2015 Calendar is coming soon! Check back for availability.

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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