The Texas Tribune and Austin American Statesman both report that soon farmers downstream could be without water. “Fearing that this drought could reduce lake levels lower than ever before”, LCRA will discuss seeking permission to reduce or cut off water to farmers downriver at the upcoming LCRA Board of Directors meeting.
“As record heat combined with record-low rain has worsened conditions in the Highland Lakes this summer, the river authority may ask the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to let it depart from its state-approved water management plan. That is one of four options its operations committee and full board will discuss in upcoming meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The commission can also deny the request.” Read the full Austin American Statesman article here.
“Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, the two major reservoirs, are currently 40 percent full. The LCRA says new projections show that by Jan. 1, the amount of water in the lakes could drop close to the levels they were at during the worst drought in Texas history, in the 1950s.” Read the full Texas Tribune article here.
Water planners have known for a long time this type of drought was coming. State water plans have been using the “50’s drought of record” as a worst case scenario for planning purposes while historic regional weather patterns tell us conditions could become much worse AND, most important, we are using much more water now than we were in the 50's -- more for increased municipal populations and more from exempt domestic wells throughout the Hill Country (and even in central Austin). Stark evidence of this increased usage is being seen everywhere, for example, in June of this year, Kendall County's monitoring wells were already at lower levels than seen during the 50's."
HCA Technical Adivsory Chair, Raymond Slade states it clearly in a recent commentary published in the San Antonio Express News, “In Texas, residential and other developments can be built without properly documented studies that prove the availability of water during severe drought. Powerful political forces resist legislation and regulation that would require such documentation. Until this situation changes, many folks in the Hill Country will live with the threat of running out of water.”
Rural landowner David K. Langford explains, “My wife and I live on our family's six-generation ranch, just off Old Highway 9, about half-way between Comfort and Fredericksburg. We don't go to urban areas much anymore, but when we do, we still see green St. Augustine lawns, water running down concrete driveways and asphalt streets, flowering tropical plants accenting lush landscaping, and many other such false indications of plentiful water. We see all this while our pastures are brown, our creeks are nothing but dry gravel, our springs have stopped flowing, trees are dying, ponds are dust, and wildlife and livestock are suffering. All the fish died months ago. In addition, many wells are being depleted, with pumps needing to be lowered, potable water being bought and hauled by big tanker trucks to fill empty cisterns, or expensive new wells having to be drilled. The final insult was yesterday afternoon: our well stopped pumping water. When does this "evergreen madness" stop?"
Rural communities are frustrated that their water rights are first to be limited while many urban and suburban communities water St. Augustine lawns, maintain golf courses and fill vanity ponds and swimming pools. Water utilities, including the LCRA, have repeatedly committed water for new development even though such water doesn’t exist during extreme drought. There are many measures growing urban areas can take now to conserve water not only for future populations but also for crops, wildlife, bays and estuaries. See HCA's Water Conservation page to learn more.
Discussions will take place at the LCRA Water Operations Committee Meeting on September 20th and the next day at the LCRA Board Meeting, September 21st. These meetings are open to the public. Information and agendas can be found here.
LCRA decisions are made by a board of directors that are appointed by the Governor. Biographys and information about the current LCRA Board of Directors can be found here.
Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More
"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More
There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the Hill Country regarding land management, in addition to a lot of good information. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the bad from the good. Misinformation can come from a variety of sources – the coffee shop, the feed store, magazine articles, well meaning neighbors and even natural resource professionals. By clarifying some of the common misperceptions, people will be able to make better decisions regarding natural resources. Steve’s writings are timeless. Read more from Steve Nelle and educate your neighbors.
The Bennett Trust will host its first ever land stewardship and education conference April 23-25 in Kerrville. Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, will deliver the keynote address on the history and legacy of the Edwards Plateau. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit local ranches, vineyards and orchards to learn more about sustainable practices in horticulture, forage production and wildlife management. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has opened their State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) rules making process for public comment. Participation in the rules making process is critical to ensure that the intentions of the State Legislature are carried out in the long-term administration of the State’s SWIFT funds. The HCA has submitted a list of recommendations to the TWDB that will help ensure spring and stream-flow sustainability in the Hill Country.
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is hosting a candidates forum for two board of director seats up for election this year. The meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at PEC Headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. The event will also include discussion of a ballot referendum on whether to switch to single-member district elections for board directors. Learn more about the candidates from the San Marcos Mercury. Learn more about the process and forum from the PEC.
Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.
“With the exception of the lower Rio Grande Valley and small parts of Far West Texas, much of the state has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,” reads TWDB’s most recent report. “This doesn’t bode well for the next six months. A dry winter generally portends a dry spring and summer.” Read more from Nextcity.org.
Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.
How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.
“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.
The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More
It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.
April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events
April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details
April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details
April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details
May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details
May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details
May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details
May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details
May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details
May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details
May 13 in Kerrville - Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Upper Guadalupe River - Details
May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details
May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details
May 19 in Austin - 2014 Texas Water Summit: Securing our Economic Future - Presented by The Acadamy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details
Photo contest begins March 1st!
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool