"Over the past 15 years, I have studied more than 1,000 springs, closely examining the relationship between springs and the health of the aquifer. I have discovered that springs are of inestimable value to plants and wildlife in landscapes where they occur and have also learned that springs continue to be as important to populations today as they were thousands of years ago. We have also found that in many ways, springs are the canary in the coal mine for groundwater sources." Read more from the National Geographic.
The Hays County Commissioners Court voted unanimously January 20 to form a committee that would hold public forums to discuss concerns over groundwater pumping, particularly in areas where conservation districts have no authority, in the interest of protecting private land rights while promoting public responsibility. Read more
Comal commissioners are supporting proposed legislation to create the “Comal Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.” “The GCD is necessary because the Trinity, a major source of well water in the Hill Country area west of Interstate 35, already has dropped some 87 feet in the last 15 years” Read more from the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
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
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.
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
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.
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
“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.
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.
“Local conservation districts, democratic institutions that allow regional interests to control their own fate, should be permitted to continue their work. But they must be empowered by the Legislature to do their jobs properly, which will never happen as long as private property rights are allowed to trump all other considerations.” Read the full story from Texas Monthly.
The challenges and opportunities in brackish groundwater desalination as a source of future water supply in Texas have been receiving considerable attention lately. With a Joint Interim Committee on Desalination, Senate Natural Resources Committee interim charges that include desalination, and a new Texas Desalination Association, this area will continue to be a hot topic. Read more from the Texas Center for Policy Studies blog.
The 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
“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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With little prospect for rain in the foreseeable future, additional reductions in pumping from the Edwards Aquifer appear to be imminent, according to information presented Tuesday to the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors during its monthly meeting. In a report to the board, Authority staff indicated that soaring temperatures and the continued lack of rain are likely to result in further drought-induced pumping restrictions for Edwards Aquifer users across the region. Read more
At their June 13th, 2011 Board Meeting, the Cow Creek GCD’s Board of Directors moved from Drought Stage 4 - Severe Drought to Drought Stage 5 - Extreme Drought. General Manager Micah Voulgaris recommended the move, citing the lack of rainfall, historic lows in several of the District's monitor wells and the extremely low stream flow levels in the Guadalupe River. here.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Senate committee takes up measure that would equate groundwater with private property. Read full Statesman.com article here.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“...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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
Back to Groundwater Resources
Back to Issues
Many Texans find satisfaction in being different from California. But a new legislative proposal would have Texas follow the deeply flawed California model of massive and costly pumping of water all over the state. This approach leads to crisis management when the “wet” areas of the state face an extended drought, and communities relying on imported water are left high and dry. Read Ken Kramer's Op-ed published in the Austin American Statesman and listen to his testimony.
As expected, water issues are coming to the forefront as the 84th session of the Texas Legislature progresses. Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) leaders and staff have been tracking and weighing in on water related legislation to make sure landowners’ private property rights remain intact. Read more from TSCRA.
In a major step for conservation in Central Texas, Travis Audubon has entered into an agreement with Travis County that will ensure a permanent, protected home for the Golden-cheeked Warbler, an endangered songbird. Learn more
Wildlife Field Research (WFR) is a bioblitz conducted every spring and fall at the Cibolo Nature Center. During this research event, teams of Citizen Scientists combine their experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to conduct a survey of the nature center’s ecology. Amazing work going on at the Cibolo. Check it out.
A Night Sky Resolution was passed in Llano April 6th! “The Llano City Council should be commended for adopting their resolution and taking this important step in promoting better lighting and preserving the Llano starry nights.” Ken Kattner, HCA Night Sky team member explains in his article published in the Llano County Journal.
The Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP HCP) has its share of controversy. HCA convened a successful meeting in Boerne in March to foster more understanding and as a result, a landowner gathering has been scheduled in Bandera on May 5th. Read more about the purpose and outcomes from the March program here. Join us in Bandera May 5th to participate with Hill Country landowner and a great line-up of speakers. View the Ranchers and Landowners Association meeting announcement here.
This Friday, April 17th will be the final day for the public to make comments regarding a sand and gravel operation currently seeking a permit to operate along the banks of the Pedernales River. The facility would be permitted to produce more than 500,000 tons of rock, sand and gravel and would be located roughly 1,000 feet from the Pedernales River- one of the Hill Country's most pristine river systems. Stakeholders concerned about the dust, particulate matter, runoff, noise and traffic that this operation may generate are encouraged to register a comment with the TCEQ by visiting this webpage and entering 130211 as the Permit Number. For more information, including a map of the site and details about an informational gathering scheduled for April 30th in Johnson City, click here.
HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide training class May 4–7 in San Antonio. This program will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. The more hearts we touch, the more minds we inspire, the better the future for our Hill Country. Learn more.
The Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan has been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is currently available for public review and comment through April 30, 2015. This is one of only a handful of approved watershed protection plans in Texas, and the first with a groundwater component. The plan is designed to keep Cypress Creek clean, clear and flowing. Read more
With a third of Texans still facing drought conditions, a coalition of Texas universities and water providers has launched an $8 million effort to curb water use in cities. Read more from the Texas Tribune. Are you curious about municipal water use in the Hill Country? It varies a lot. Check out this HCA illustration.
A public meeting and Workshop of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan Stakeholder and Science Committees will be held on April 22, 2015 8:30 am – 5 pm. This Workshop in an opportunity to learn about and discuss the issues, and give formal comment on the National Academy of Sciences Report 1. Learn more
The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District has announced a series of educational programs for 2015. Mark your calendar for these wonderful opportunities to learn about Rainwater Harvesting, Riparian Health, Native Vegetation and more. Details
AgriLife will be holding a Landowner's Management Workshop April 20 in San Antonio. “This workshop is intended to provide landowners helpful tips to combat weeds and or brush on their properties that are now emerging with the warmer weather and through the summer months. The program also will provide methods to combat the feral hogs.” Learn more
Now is the time for your school to apply for a grant through HCA's Rainwater Revival School Grant Program. The program is in its 5th year and has awarded grants to 14 Hill Country Schools for rainwater harvesting projects and water conservation education. The application process is simple. Deadline is May 1st. Find out more and apply
Have you ever thought about what you would do if a developer proposed dumping 350,000 gallons per day of wastewater into a dry creek on your property? Or if your neighbor decided to open a mining operation, cement plant or landfill? The contested case hearing process is one of the few tools landowners in that situation can use to challenge pollution permits - and the legislature is taking up several bills that would limit Texans' ability to use it. Learn more
Texas State Parks have gone Technicolor this spring; rolling waves of bright blue, deep red and rich yellow blanket Texas’ hills and plains. Texas is blessed with more than 5,000 species of wildflowers and this spring has seen a proliferation of wildflower populations. Read more from TPWD. And while you’re out, don’t forget your camera! The HCA photo contest runs through May 31.
It seems that everywhere we turn, there is news of the historic drought currently gripping California. Could the current water shortage mark the end of California's booming growth? Or is it simply another obstacle to overcome - a "resource management issue," as some put it. Others are looking at how California can encourage water-saving behavior changes - to reduce water use by 25% below 2013 levels - without rationing at the household level. And as the drought and below average snow pack this year signal tougher times ahead, farmers are drilling groundwater wells at a frantic pace. What will that mean for future of California's aquifers? And perhaps the biggest question of them all - what lessons can Texans learn from California's situation?
On May 9, San Antonio voters will have the opportunity to renew funding for the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and Greenway Trails. To date, the EAPP has conserved over 133,000 acres over the Edwards Aquifer in Bexar, Medina and Uvalde counties. More than 1200 acres have been acquired to construct 46 miles of linear greenways, with 40 additional miles in design or under construction. A fundraiser to support passage of the initiative will be held at Freetail Brewing on April 28. Attendees will get to sample a new brew called Edwards Artesian Ale. Details and RSVP
“Analysis shows that a 1,000,000-gallon-per-day supply can be diverted to Buda between 2017 and 2023. This diversion would meet the interim needs of Buda and eliminate its need to use the EP groundwater. Costs would have to be worked out among the contracting parties.” Read more from the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD).
California has mandated a 25% cut in water use one month after an LA Times op-ed by NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti kicked off with: “California has about one year of water left.” But, what did that headline actually mean? “One of the key points of the op-ed was that, since we will be relying more heavily on groundwater this year (perhaps an unprecedented 85% to 90% statewide), that we need to be extremely mindful to use it sparingly — all the more important as we consider the great potential for an even drier future in California with even more prolonged drought.” Check out this Famigleitti interview posted on Mashable.com.
Landowners Pat and Terrell Graham have won a small victory in their fight to prevent a neighboring developer from being allowed to dump 350,000 gallons of wastewater onto their property. A judge recently ruled in favor of the Grahams, recommending TCEQ deny the developers its permit. Read more from The Examiner. Meanwhile, lawmakers are proposing changes that will make it more difficult for landowners, like the Terrells, to challenge wastewater parmitting. More from the Texas Observer.
What's the difference between a Blue Moon and a Comanche Moon? When is the best time this summer to see the International Space Station pass over Blanco? Have you ever seen a galaxy or a nebula with your own two eyes? Do you know that two different comets will be visible to the naked eye this year, in June and in October? These and many other intriguing questions will be answered in an educational and fun-filled evening as Blanco State Park hosts its semi-annual Stars-in-the-Park event on Friday, April 10th. Learn more from Blanco County News.
Save Oak Hill will be holding their second public meeting, "Save Oak Hill: Actions and Solutions," Thursday, April 16 at the Hampton Branch of the Austin Public Library on Convict Hill From 6:30-8pm. Anyone with concerns about TxDOT's plan to build an elevated toll-road through Oak Hill is encouraged to attend. Details
The Vista Ridge water project in San Antonio threatens to follow a dangerous precedent: draining water from one region to another in a way that will only increase exurban sprawl in the Hill Country. If this solution seems familiar it should: It’s the California model that has led to that state having one year of water left. Read HCA's Op-ed published in the Austin American Statesman.
A volley of legislation launched by state Rep. Jason Isaac to stop a controversial groundwater project in Hays County came under harsh scrutiny by his fellow lawmakers on Wednesday. The Republican of Dripping Springs wants to stop Houston-based Electro Purification from pumping up to 5 million gallons of water a day from wells in his district and selling it to Austin's fast-growing Hill Country suburbs. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
After the 2011 wildfires in the Llano Water Catchment, landowners have worked collaboratively to help restore the land. April 18th, the public has a unique opportunity to revisit and learn from these sites. Learn more about this event and discover more useful Llano River information from the South Llano Watershed Alliance. Help spread the word to Llano River landowners to subscribe for regular updates. Read the latest SLWA newsletter.
As Texas Hill Country residents and businesses look for ways to conserve water, the Hill Country Alliance’s Rainwater Revival grants lend a helping hand to schools throughout the 17-county region. The HCA is now taking applications through May 1 from schools that want to implement or enhance rainwater collection and water conservation programs on their campuses. Learn more
The population boom along the Interstate 35 corridor shows San Antonio and Austin could eventually grow together into a mega, metro region, the state demographer said after studying new census data. Hays and Comal counties — both of which hug I-35 and are wedged between San Antonio and Austin — were the fifth and ninth fastest-growing counties in the U.S. from July 2013 to July 2014, according to census estimates released Thursday. Read more from the San Antonio Express-News.
The Children & Nature Network 2015 Conference at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort on April 7-9 has attracted more than 500 leaders from around the world representing the conservation, health, education, technology and built- environment communities. Attendees will explore innovative ways to encourage families, schools, churches, non-profits and businesses to support getting kids active and into nature. More from TPWD.
Protecting watersheds and aquifer recharge areas should be a priority for the House Natural Resources Committee, writes Andrew Sansom, executive director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. Purchasing development rights from private landowners in critical watersheds, he says, is a proven way to protect rural and agricultural land for the benefit of the state's natural resources. Read more from Trib+Water.
Even Texans with the greenest of lawns water them too much, many landscape experts say. And if everyone would turn on the sprinklers only twice a week — still probably more than necessary — the water savings would be significant, according to a report from the Sierra Club released Tuesday. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
This case could lead to the review and potentially overturn the 'rule of capture'. “We hope to bring the common law of Texas into accord with the laws promoting groundwater conservation as passed by the Legislature and as mandated by the Texas Constitution." Read more from TESPA and get involved.
What is being sold to San Antonio as water security for the future could temporarily fuel Hill Country growth and once that supply is needed in San Antonio, then what? “The Hill Country is a beautiful area with limited surface water, limited groundwater and no big city to spread rates across, Puente said. “We would answer the desperate call.” Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman.
“The Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District, which has regulatory authority over the Vista Ridge water, determined that about 50,000 acre-feet of water could be safely permitted. Given that the groundwater district has already granted permits for more than 100,000 acre-feet, it is uncertain how the city can rely on this water for 30 years…San Antonio needs to develop new water resources, but the projects must be affordable and dependable, come rain or shine.” And if this supply is not dependable for San Antonio, how can we consider spurring a Hill Country boom with an unreliable resource? Learn more
“Save Oak Hill is a coalition of neighbors seeking to establish public greenspaces in Oak Hill to honor and preserve the rich history and unique natural features of the place we call home.” With a major TxDot project on the horizon, this Oak Hill community organization hopes protect their sense of place and environmental significance. Learn more and get involved www.saveoakhill.org.
Despite Central Texas growth, less water drawn from Colorado by cities. “More people are moving to Central Texas daily, but the region has used less and less precious river water in each of the last several years.” The more we save, the less we need to import. Read the story in the Austin American Statesman.
As outrage has mounted this year over the Electro Purification well field being built in Hays County, officials from Buda and the planned Anthem subdivision — two customers of the project — have dutifully showed up to town halls and round tables, subjecting themselves to the jeers of their neighbors. But missing from every public meeting has been the most critical player in making the project a reality: the Goforth Special Utility District, a Niederwald-area water provider that has the largest contract with Houston-based Electro Purification’s venture in Hays County. Read full article by the Austin American Statesman.
These days, Austin is trouble year-round. What's ruining Old Waterloo for the people who live there and love it are the people who live there and love it. There's just too many of them—and no plan for handling them all. Read more from Citylab.com.
As Central Texas continues to face its worst drought on record, state legislators are considering several bills this session that could affect water supplies in Austin and throughout the state. Read more from Austin Monitor.
The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), a non-profit land conservation group headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, recently worked with a landowner to conserve a 201 acre ranch in Blanco County, bringing the total of HCLT conserved acres in the Hill Country to just over 5,900 by the end of 2014. The property, located near the historic community of Sandy north of Johnson City, has been used for grazing and farming since the 1800s. The owners’ intent is to maintain the property as native rangeland for wildlife and livestock. Learn more
The latest developments in the fight to protect our groundwater in Hays County go public at the TESPA Water Meeting on March 21 in Wimberley. "I am excited about this public meeting," said TESPA co-founder and local resident Jim Blackburn. "We on the TESPA team will present the surprising results of our legal research and discuss moving forward to stop the Electro Purification water development plan. I hope everyone who cares about the future health and prosperity of our area will join us." Details
Counties are growing at extremely high rates, in part because of the lack of land use planning ability outside of our cities. This trend has tremendous costs to tax-payers for basic infrastructure needs such as roads, water and schools. “Hays County, just south of Austin, is projected to be the fastest-growing county, by percentage, in all of Texas by 2050” Read more from the Austin Business Journal. Learn more about County Planning authority here.
An old-fashioned, Western-style water war has erupted. Across Texas and the Southwest, the scene is repeated in the face of a triple threat: booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change. Read more from the New York Times.
With a high-profile groundwater fight raging in his district, state Rep. Jason Isaac is launching a volley of legislation to stop plans to pump huge amounts of water from underneath Hays County. Read more from the Texas Tribune. Representative Isaac issued his own media release yesterday. Read “Rep. Isaac and Sen. Campbell File Water Legislation Aiming to Protect Trinity Aquifer.” here.
Join us for a panel discussion with Thomas Hardy, Ph.D., and Matthew Lewis, the City of Austin’s Assistant Director of Planning and Development Review, on the lessons learned from two great green infrastructure projects located an ocean apart. This next event in the Imagine Austin Speaker Series will take place April 1 at the Dougherty Arts Center here.
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) praised the Comal County Commissioners court this week and announced the denial of the Meyers Ranch “Water Quality Improvement District” would have translated to 1,500 homes on 700 acres over the Edwards Recharge Zone. Read more from GEAA.
6th and 7th grade students from Hunt School are learning all about water conservation and rainwater harvesting thanks to a grant from HCA's Rainwater Revival and the generous help of the Hunt Garden Club. Read more from the West Kerr Current.
"With the Feb. 24 approval of Bee Cave City Council and Hays County Commissioners Court, West Travis County Public Utility Agency lobbyists are working to find a sponsor in the Texas Legislature for a bill that would define the specific water and wastewater powers the agency has." Read more from Community Impact.
What is your vision of the Hill Country that future generations will inherit? The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) asks this question as it calls for photographs for its 2016 calendar. The annual HCA photo contest opens on March 1 and runs through May 31. Winners receive cash prizes and their photos will appear in the popular HCA calendar and in the organization’s various educational products. Entering the contest is easy through the HCA website. Learn more
Join HCA at this first of many educational programs at the Hill Country Science Mill: Ecologist G. David Tilman presents, "Food, Health and the Environment: Why Eating Right Can Save You and the Earth." Dr. Tilman's research focuses on how to provide secure, sufficient and equitable food to all people of all nations while preserving biodiversity and minimizing agricultural impacts on water quality and climate change. March 29th at 4:30 pm at the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. Details
Competition for water prompts a quest for new sources. “The rule of capture is coming to the forefront again,” Venessa Puig-Williams explained. “People in Hays County are seeing that, though the rule purports to uphold property rights, it doesn’t really protect them. Large-scale pumping could dry up nearby groundwater sources.” Read more from Circle of Blue.
The CAMPO Transportation Policy Board (TPB) is taking public comment on the draft 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, amendments to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and the FY's 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program. The TPB will hold a public hearing on March 9, and CAMPO will host a series of public meetings before the comment period ends on April 2, 2015. These meetings provide opportunities for the public to comment on the draft 2040 Plan, and on the proposed amendments. Learn more
This workshop will cover basic skills from chainsaw operation to prescribed fire basics, geared towards female land managers. Interested in building your understanding of some of these important ranch management skills? This could be the workshop for you. Signup deadline is March 13th and space is limited. Details and Registration
The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) recently joined with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the East Foundation to form the Center for Private Land Stewardship. The center will be the hub of education for private landowners and the public, according to a Noble Foundation news release. Learn more from Texas Water Resources Institute here.
The Texas Tribune and Texas State University will be hosting a day long symposium on water, March 10 from 8:00 am to 2:45 pm. Topics include life after Proposition 6, the battle over groundwater, strategies for conservation and the poor quality of water along the Texas-Mexico border. Learn more and register for free.
Former LCRA General Manager and groundwater developer, Joe Beal is back in the news with plans to transport water from Bastrop and Lee counties to Travis and Williamson Counties. "It was Beal’s empire-building effort at the river authority in the early 2000s that sent water pipelines shooting into the Hill Country, accelerating suburbia in areas around Dripping Springs" Read more from Statesman.com
Icy roads and freezing rain couldn’t stop more than 200 people from making their way to the second annual Pollinator PowWow in Austin last weekend. The all-day gathering of pollinator advocates and native plant evangelists gathered at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Saturday for a full day of education, enlightenment and wisdom sharing. Read more from Texas Butterfly Ranch here.
"Over the past 15 years, I have studied more than 1,000 springs, closely examining the relationship between springs and the health of the aquifer. I have discovered that springs are of inestimable value to plants and wildlife in landscapes where they occur and have also learned that springs continue to be as important to populations today as they were thousands of years ago. We have also found that in many ways, springs are the canary in the coal mine for groundwater sources." Read more from the National Geographic.
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) today announced its formation as a Texas non-‐profit corporation created to protect these aquifers and their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater property rights associated with owning land over the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers and associated springs. Learn more
This workshop will cover basic skills from chainsaw operation to prescribed fire basics, geared towards female land managers. Interested in building your understanding of some of these important ranch management skills? This could be the workshop for you. Signup deadline is March 13th and space is limited. Details and Registration
The second Bennett Trust educational program will take place April 23-24, 2015 at the Inn of the Hills Resort and Conference Center, Kerrville. This first-of-its-kind conference, “Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau,” will bring the best and wisest, accomplished stewards, visionaries, and legacy-leavers together as educators. Details
While it was once widely assumed that heavy brush like cedar was keeping rainwater from recharging our streams and groundwater systems, science seems to indicate that it's not quite that simple. When done with care and an eye toward restoration, brush control can be beneficial to ecosystem health. Just be realistic about the likelihood that it will fill your stream or stock pond. Read more from Texas Wildlife Magazine.
Ten high school students in Pioneers Youth Leadership were awarded $24,000 in scholarships and cash awards last week at the Capital Farm Credit Rural Youth Entrepreneurship Competition at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. “Participating in this competition has given me confidence that I can successfully start and run a business in my hometown,” said Steeley Smith. “I was able to learn so much about the positive impacts of rainwater collection through my research,” said Jessica Dong of Knippa. Learn more
A recent article in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine profiles some of the biggest problem species invading Texas lakes and waterways, and finds that the damage they are inflicting could cost Texans billions of dollars - and millions of gallons of water - each year. "It's a war, and you are involved." Read more from TPW Magazine.
Learn the basics of birding at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. “Birding is good for you physically, mentally and spiritually. You get outside, you use your brain, and it’s about something bigger than you,” says Patsy Inglet of San Antonio. The veteran birder and certified Master Naturalist teaches Introduction to Birding workshops with her birdster husband Tom Inglet. Their next class at the center is 9 a.m. to noon March 28. Learn more
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center has launched a new website - www.OurTexasWater.org highlighting some of the best and worst projects in the State Water Plan. The website features an interactive map where Texans can find projects in their communities that get either a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for their impact to our rivers, aquifers and natural resources. The website currently gives a thumbs down to the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir in northeast Texas, pumping of the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop County and a Val Verde County water project which could threaten the Devils River.
“With supplies depleted by drought, the population growing daily and few large water projects in our immediate future, new development must minimize their water demands to protect the lakes, aquifers, and rivers. The counties surrounding the rapidly growing major cities will play a huge role in how we wisely use or diminish our water supplies and in the end determine the State’s economic attractiveness to the nation.” Read more from Tom Hegemier, chair of the Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum.
“Well drillers are locating these gaps in water district jurisdictions and exploiting them for pure profit,” said PEC District 6 Director Larry Landaker, who sponsored the resolution. “What is happening in Hays County through the misuse of the rule of capture is tantamount to the theft of water by one community to serve another. … That volume of water could … create a serious economic impact to the Hill Country communities we serve. Economic impact to the Hill Country is economic impact to PEC.” Read more from PEC.
As the story of unregulated groundwater in Hays County unfolds, there are two websites worth paying attention to for current information about citizen involvement. Citizen’s Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) and Save Our Wells.
Many hill country people have been following the Flying J story in Junction; a poster child for ongoing threats to Hill Country rivers due to a lack of rules and oversight. View this video, read final testimony to the City of Junction here.
Come on out to Enchanted Rock this weekend to celebrate the stars! The first Enchanted Rock Star Festival will be February 21 at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg. According to Melissa Mial, event spokesperson, the purpose of the inaugural event is to celebrate Enchanted Rock’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park and Wildlife’s Dark Sky Initiative and increase awareness of the benefits of dark sky friendly lighting. Learn more
Op-ed by Ron Walton: “I am not against growth but know the importance of being able to provide the infrastructure to support it. Unfortunately, I see a growing tendency however for growth in the area at all cost which, especially in the Hill Country (my specialty as a Hydro-geologist with background in water wells, septics, and geomorphology) I think does a disservice to all current residents like myself who came here recently.” Read more
Preliminary 2014 data shows the drought gripping the Highland Lakes is now the most severe drought the region has experienced since construction of the lakes began in the 1930s. As a direct result of the prolonged record-dry conditions and record-low inflows from the streams and tributaries feeding the Highland Lakes, the “firm yield,” or inventory of water LCRA can provide reliably every year, has been decreased by about 100,000 acre-feet, to 500,000 acre-feet per year. (An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.) Further reductions in firm yield are possible as the drought continues. Read more
“As built artifacts, the county courthouses of central Texas tell a compelling story of a particular part of the country over a specific period of time. But more than a mere index of a building type, this project seeks to describe how county courthouses and the squares in which they sit relate to the larger communities that surround them.” Read more from TPR. HCA likes to imagine Hill Country courthouses with native landscaping and rainwater harvesting.
“Communities need to reevaluate traditional planning approaches if they are to support increasing population and economic expansion in the coming years – particularly in areas with high growth and stressed water supplies,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. Read more from the Alliance for Water Efficiency report, "Water Demand Offset Programs Offer a Path to Sustainable Community Development" here.
This week the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced what many have noticed for the past 20 years- monarch butterfly numbers are on a precipitous decline. Over the past 25 years an estimated 970 million monarchs have disappeared, largely due to loss of habitat. The Texas Hill Country is an important part of the monarch migration route, and USFWS has prioritized the entire I-35 corridor for reestablishing butterfly habitat. That means planting native milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants. Read more about the efforts to bring monarchs back from the Washington Post
A plan to build a concrete batch plant northwest of Dripping Springs has created an uproar among some residents. The plant, which would be operated as Dripping Wet Concrete
April 23-24 in Kerrville - The second annual Bennett Land Stewardship: “Keys to Hill Country Living" - Details
April 24-26 in Fredericksburg - 5th Annual Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 24-27 in Marble Falls - 15th Annual Balcones Songbird Festival - Details
April 27 in San Antonio - SA2020 Comp Plan - Details
April 27 in Kerrville - Texas Master Naturalist April Meeting, Topic: Feral Hog Program - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 in Johnson City - TCEQ informal public meeting on the Chanas Aggregates Rock Crushing Operation Details
May 5 in Bandera - Learn about the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP HCP) - Details
May 9 in Bandera - Bandera Water Workshop Series: "Aquaponic Potential" Details
May 12 in Bandera - Bandera Water Workshop Series: "Residential H2O Conservation" Details
May 29 in San Marcos - Addressing Conflict with deer in our communities, hosted by TPWD, TWA and TSU - Details
Runs March 1 - May 31
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool