A bill has recently been filed to lift the ban on building a pipeline to transport water from Uvalde County. Read more here
The Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHE) continues to monitor developments related to energy, wind farms and transmission lines through the Hill Country. Learn more here.
“There is little or no understanding of a term that is familiar to ranchers called 'carrying capacity'. On a ranch or a pasture, it means the numbers of animals, including livestock and wildlife, which can be maintained without damaging the desired rangeland vegetation...I think towns, cities, counties and regions also have a sustainable carrying capacity for people.” Read this insightful article by Mike Mecke here.
As civic leaders in San Antonio and surrounding communities began digesting new census figures released Thursday, the implications of the region's 25 percent population increase were both gratifying and sobering. Read full article from SA Express-News here.
Hill Country residents value parks. In response to concerns about the possibility of Blanco State Park shutting down because of TPWD funding cutbacks, citizens are meeting and organizing in Blanco County. A meeting is set for Feb 22nd at the Blanco Courthouse. More about the meeting and the citizen’s call to action here. Blanco County News story 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.
HTGCD Meeting – Monday, February 21st at 1:00 pm - Dripping Springs City Hall. The HTGCD board will be voting to allocate new water pumping permits for a development in Woodcreek North. Details
Managing healthy Riparian areas is one of the single most proactive thing we can do for hill country water resources. Sky Lewey of the Nueces River Authority (and HCA President) is offering spring workshops. Space is limited, if you’ve been thinking about taking one of these classes now is the time to register. Learn more about this issue and see a schedule of workshops on the HCA Riparian Management issue page. See the schedule of workshops.
Update: POSTPONED UNTIL FALL
What began in the 1990s as an effort by the Lower Colorado River Authority to bail out failing, far-flung sewage and water systems, eventually became a utility and infrastructure spree as the LCRA extended its clout, transforming the development of the Hill Country in the process. But in November, the LCRA announced that it would sell 32 systems it still controlled because they collectively cost about $3 million more to operate than they raise in rates. Read full Statesman.com article here.
The State Bar of Texas’ water rights conference is coming up February 24 – 25th at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa. Anyone interested in becoming better educated about water law, groundwater management, state water planning, environmental flows is welcome to register. Program details and registration here.
Discover how to work with nature to increase profits and improve the environment. Holistic Management International (HMI) is a terrific organization worth getting to know. Check out their Texas workshop schedule including one in San Antonio here.
San Antonio officials will continue to pursue a passenger rail line that one day could connect the Alamo City to Austin, a transit project that's already been in the works for more than a decade. Read more from The San Antonio Express-News here.
A piece of legislation proposed in Austin has a cattle raisers group and the Coastal Bend Groundwater Conservation District locking horns on the issue of water rights. The dispute starts with the rule of capture, which has been the law of the land on water rights since a Texas Supreme Court ruling in 1904. In essence, “rule of capture” means if there’s groundwater beneath your land and you can get to it, that water is yours. As Texas gets deeper into the 21st century, though, groundwater is beginning to be a much bigger issue, with the state’s population booming and the finiteness of water as a natural resource becoming crystal clear. Read full Warton Journal Spectator article here.
"The office of the Blanco Historic Preservation Commission (BHPC) is to protect the historical, architectural, and archaeological resources that make Blanco very unique." Click here to read the Blanco County News article regarding the top ten needs of the BHPC in the creation of a local historic district in Blanco.
"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.
"County taxpayers all over the state are on the hook in varying degrees for the cleanup of unregulated subdivisions built without the most basic of amenities — roads and running water. Commissioners courts stood by helplessly while the subdivisions went up and were equally helpless when the developer left." Read more from Statesman.com here.
Residents of unincorporated areas outside Austin's city limits often call Travis County officials to complain about bars, dance halls, industrial operations and other places that create unwanted noise, light or odors. But there's little the county can do. Residents get what one county staffer called the "standard spiel" — an explanation of how the Legislature hasn't given counties regulatory authority over land use. Read full Statesman.com article here.
At their meeting Tuesday, SAWS voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that ended a five year long legal dispute between SAWS and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, the Helotes Heritage Association, the City of Grey Forest, the San Geronimo Valley Alliance, and the Hill Country Planning Association. Learn more
More than 3,700 acres of pristine Hill Country plant and animal habitat became part of the state park system last week when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission accepted the 3K Ranch, a gift from the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky estate. Read more from the Boerne Star here.
Lawmakers today filed a bill they hope will help drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safely share the roads. Read more from The Texas Tribune here.
The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District board of directors has unanimously adopted a resolution that strongly opposes a move by either the state legislature or the courts to create a vested right for landowners to own the groundwater under their property before it is captured. Read the full article from the Bastrop Adviser here.
The Kerrville Area League of Women Voters will sponsor a series of forums on the availability of water now and in the future for our area. Click here to learn about the series.
Wildlife Habitat for Good is a new video series filmed in the Palmetto State that illustrates the benefits of wildlife habitat conservation and restoration. Learn more here.
The route chosen by the PUC on January 20th for the McCamey D (renamed Big Hill) to Kendall project is expected to be energized in December 2013. The 140-mile route crosses Schleicher, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall and Gillespie counties and is estimated to cost between $330 million and $350 million. Click here to view maps and read more.
A new website and amazing video of the Canyon Lake Gorge… “ The Flood Event of 2002 the Power of Water carved a gorge into the landscape below the Canyon Lake Spillway”. Check it out.
Partnerships in the Texas Hill Country achieve on-the-ground success. The Hill Country Conservancy, The City of Austin and Hays County partner for Dahlstrom Ranch and The River Systems Institute leads ongoing long-term conservation along Cypress Creek. Learn more
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As we continue our outreach program to encourage night sky friendly lighting in the Hill Country, we are pulling Bill Wren away from his duties at the McDonald Observatory once again. Join us for a screening of the film The City Dark followed by a presentation by Bill Wren, Dec. 11 in Bee Cave and Dec. 12 in Mason. Learn more about protecting the night sky here.
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) began serving the citizens of Texas under a new management structure with three full-time Board members. Between that time and the successful passage of Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, both the new Board members and agency staff have been hard at work preparing to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and to respond to other new legislation. Read More
Tune in as Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune hosts a conversation with two Hill Country legislators, Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Jason Isaac. Learn More
Mirroring trends seen elsewhere in the nation, Texans living in urban areas are driving less, according to a report from think tank TexPIRG. The report’s authors say the decreased driving trend means that policymakers should be shifting infrastructure funding priorities away from road projects and into alternative modes of transportation. Read full article from Austin Business Journal.
Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest place in the U.S. but the Hill Country is quickly losing the night, “...much outdoor lighting used at night is wildly inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, completely unnecessary.” Read this story published in the December issue of Men’s Journal featuring HCA Night Sky Team member and frequent guest speaker Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory.
In a series of three guest blogs, Sharlene Leurig, Water Program Director for Ceres, examines the details of Proposition 6, the water project financing measure approved by Texas voters on November 5th. Proposition 6 amends the Texas constitution to appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to seed a new water infrastructure loan fund directed to water supply projects included in the State Water Plan. Click here to read.
Across the Hill Country, other aquifers, which provide vital spring water for many rivers, are very low and many of their springs and seeps have dried up. These aquifer-fed springs are not only key to local ranchers, but to maintaining river flows in the upper Nueces, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins. Read full article by Mike Mecke in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
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.
Bob Webster, a staunch advocate of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District tapped to fill vacancy on Board of Directors. Webster, the "public" at nearly all of the GCD meetings, is the host of The Garden Show on KTSA AM 550 San Antonio and serves as an advisory board member of the Hill Country Alliance. Learn more from the Boerne Star.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries and State Parks divisions have partnered with other private groups to develop habitat enhancement projects to improve fishing opportunities at Inks Lake the past three years. More from TPWD.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is the only state agency with a dedicated sales tax. Under state law, a portion of the sales tax on sporting goods is meant to go for parks. But lawmakers consistently divert some of that money to balance the state budget. Read more from StateImpact.
The mayor of Del Rio told San Antonio Water System trustees Monday that his city would use every legal means to block a proposed plan to pipe billions of gallons of water from Southwest Texas to San Antonio. The proposal, made by the V.V. Water Co., would send enough water for more than 150,000 households per year from drought-weary Val Verde County to SAWS by 2018. Red more from SA Express-News.
The mood was grim among folks from Bay City, Eagle Lake and other coastal communities today as the Lower Colorado River Authority board voted 8-7 in favor of an emergency proposal that will likely cut off water to rice farmers for the third year in a row. Read the full article from the Texas Observer. View Sierra Club's comments and press statement for the November 19 LCRA meeting.
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.
The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently released an updated version of its popular report on desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and surface water. Desalination: Is It Worth Its Salt? is a basic primer on desalination written for the general public. The report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas. Read More
Now leading one of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s top five most-visited parks, Doug Cochran sees challenges and opportunities in managing Enchanted Rock State Natural Area’s 1,600-plus acres, which includes the iconic, 640-acre granite dome outcropping. Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.
With groundwater and surface water treated as two independent water supplies under Texas law, it can be tricky to plan for our future generations. Citizen involvement is essential to achieving fair policy to sustain our water supply, a shared resource. A great place to learn is the Texas Living Waters Project - Tune in.
Attendees of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association's annual conference gathered at Austin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a rainwater harvesting tour and discussion. The tour was hosted by Quality Control Steel who donated a 3000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank to the school. Learn More
The case for County Authority is made once again on the edge of Austin and Bee Cave. With little county power to deal with intensity and location of development, planning can be left to the utility. More than a hundred residents showed up at City Hall to express concerns about water, traffic and quality of life issues. Learn More
Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56 percent of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. Read More
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the state water plan is groundwater regulation. Almost every region in Texas plans to look below the surface for more water supplies. But many water suppliers, including those that serve Austin and San Antonio, are battling for the right to pump groundwater outside their own jurisdiction. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, will present the inaugural Texas Water Journal Forum, “Water, Politics and Drought,” Nov. 21 in Austin. Learn More
Environmental leaders call on water board to focus Prop 6 money on conservation and avoid projects harmful to rivers. “The State of Texas has consistently declined to implement common sense approaches to to maintain in-stream flows to the bays and estuaries - to the point where coastal ecosystems are now in peril,” said Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.” Read the story from Environment Texas.
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.
“We’re dealing with so many water challenges in the state, particularly here in the Hill Country. There are a lot of unknowns like how to solve the complex water problems and rainwater harvesting is just a simple thing people can be doing to take the stress off of our aquifers.” Read the full Boerne Star article.
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
Henly is not so much a town as a collection of farmers and ranchers along U.S. 290 between Dripping Springs and Johnson City. Community life revolves around volunteer fire department barbecues and services at the Henly Baptist Church. The unincorporated town, which has more livestock than people, doesn’t have so much as a traffic light or a gas station. More from Statesman.com.
Texas Green Network is hosting an event in Austin, November 21st to examine next steps related to Prop 6. What does this mean for conservation? How do these funds get prioritized? How does this affect the business community? Details
“Parks and recreation won big on the ballot this week,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “At a time when many parks are suffering and natural areas are quickly being eaten up by sprawl, millions of Texans put their money where their mouth is and made a big investment in green spaces, water quality, ball fields, bike trails and in our overall quality of life.” Read the full story.
Scenic Texas announces the appointment of three new Hill Country board members. The new appointments are Kathleen Krueger, Former Mayor Pro-Tem, New Braunfels; Paul Robert Goebel, Associate Dean at Texas Tech University, Lubbock; and Chris Cornwell, former PepsiCo Food Scientist, Canyon Lake. Learn More
Texans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to jump-start financing for water projects in the state: Proposition 6. The plan will take $2 billion in surplus state money (from the Rainy Day Fund) to start a low-interest loan program for water projects in Texas. The measure had widespread support from both sides of the aisle as well as business and environmental groups. It passed with over 73 percent of the vote. More from State Impact.
It might have been a clear, crisp fall day in Boerne, but inside the Boerne Civic Center it was raining a solid schedule of rainwater harvesting information at the 4th annual Rainwater Revival. This Hill Country Alliance (HCA) event brought together a full day’s schedule of rainwater experts and professionals to teach and demonstrate a sure way to end all your water woes. Read the full story in the Rivard Report.
The new CAMPO website features a pretty bluebonnet-lined Hill Country road on the cover, what are we doing to protect this vision? A new video featuring CAMPO leaders kicks off a new public input vehicle - Mind Mixer. What’s important to you as we grow this region? Quality of life, clean water, natural resource protection, open spaces, rail and bike options? Let CAMPO know.
The choice for cities facing water shortages now or in the future is clear: invest in expensive new water supplies or invest in programs to reduce water use, including outdoor water use. Several smart Texas cities chose the latter. San Antonio Water System provides rebates to customers who agree to reduce their turf grass and to replace it with plants from an approved drought-tolerant plant list. More from texaslivingwaters.org.
Now is the time because current enhanced tax incentives expire Dec 31. Rules regarding amount of the deduction and the number of years you can take the deduction are about to change. Contact your local land trust for more information. Learn about conservation easements and land trusts working in the Hill Country here.
December 5 in Wimberley – Open House to discuss four-lane divided parkway between Wimberley and San Marcos - Details
December 6 in Uvalde - Star Party at Fort Inge - Details
December 16-18 in San Antonio - Clean Air through Energy Efficiency Conference and Business Expo - Details
The 2014 HCA Calendar is on sale!
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