Most food growers rely on tap water to keep their plants alive during dry weather, but gardeners are discovering that chemicals in tap water harm the soil organisms that plants depend upon to absorb nutrients. As a result, more and more gardeners are storing rainwater. Read more from Sustainable Food Center.
While traditional developers scramble for scarce water resources, sustainable development in the Hill Country is happening right under our noses. Several water-neutral projects incorporating rainwater harvesting systems are in progress and more are in the planning stages. With proper consideration and non-invasive infrastructure, the Hill Country gets enough rain even - in the worst drought year - to supply a home’s water needs. Local builder and The Hill Country Alliance’s own Paul Sumrall is featured in the following Austin American Statesman news story written by Andra Lin. Click here to read.
Installing a rainwater collection system costs about the same or less than drilling a well but offers multiple advantages, making it the more economical and environmentally-friendly choice in the long run. Most importantly, rainwater collection systems do not deplete underlying aquifers the way wells do, making them much more reliable sources of water. Read more from the Hondo Anvil Herald.
After a long dry period, many parts of the state have finally received some badly needed rain, and those with rainwater harvesting systems have been reaping the rewards of this belated gift from Mother Nature, said Texas A&M AgriLife water resources experts. Read more
Impressed by the quality of proposals for its rainwater harvesting and conservation grant program, the Hill Country Alliance is awarding three – instead of the planned two – $1,000 grants to Hill Country schools to help teachers and students design and implement water-saving techniques. Read more
Congratulations to Brad Flink, who’s RWH project was honored by the Texas Water Development Board with its Texas Rain Catcher Award. HCA’s Rainwater Revival grant program provided support to document this project and create a model for other campuses. The stormwater retention and reuse system created by students is capable of holding 84,000 gallons for irrigating the Bulldogs' baseball field. Read morefrom Zeke MacCormak and the SA Express News.
The City of San Marcos Public Works Department is implementing a new program to help its customers conserve water. Through this program water customers can receive rebates for purchasing and installing rain barrels and large rainwater tank systems. Private home systems may qualify for up to $5,000, while commercial, institutional and multi-family systems may receive as much as $20,000 in rebates. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) announced recently that Bandera High School is among the winners of its annual Texas Rain Catcher Award, a rainwater harvesting competition and recognition progpram. The award recognizes excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas, promotes the technology, and educates the public. Learn More
The Hill Country Alliance has set an April 30 deadline for local schools to apply for grants of up to $1,000 to develop or continue water catchment and conservation programs. The auction of “art barrels” during the Alliance’s annual Rainwater Revival, held in November, funds the grants. Learn more...
The disastrous chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia's water supply reinforced the value of harvesting rainwater to provide distributed sources of safe water. Read More
On January 21st the Hays County Commissioners Court discussed creation of a Hays County Rainwater Initiative Fund, the Hays “RAIN” Fund. The proposal authored by Commissioner Ray Whisenant would create a revolving loan fund that would be available to Hays County citizens for installation of systems to collect, store and use rainwater that would result in a reduction in the use of groundwater. Learn More
“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.
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.
Rainwater harvesting is part of the new water culture in Texas, especially in the Texas Hill Country where water is scarce and precious. On Saturday, November 2, the Rainwater Revival returns to the Boerne Civic Center where rain harvesting experts and practitioners will speak throughout the day in tandem with a variety of exhibitor and vendor tents, a live auction of artful rain barrels, the Raindrop Stop for kids, food trailers, music, and fun for the whole family. Learn More
Rainwater Harvesting as an Alternate Water Source will be the Focus of this Year's Annual Conference of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. Learn More
For Round Rock resident Sean Barber, the two rain water collection tanks in his backyard are turning out to be his friend. Tired of seeing rain water wasted, Barber joined the city's harvesting rebate program. Under the city's program, which began June 1, people who install rain collection tanks like Barber's will be paid 50 cents per gallon of water collected with a maximum rebate of $250 a year per customer. Learn more from KVUE.
AgriLife will be hosting a workshop on rainwater harvesting Aug. 17 in Austin. A comprehensive rainwater harvesting discussion will be led by Ed Parken, Travis County Master Gardener and rainwater harvesting specialist, and Dick Peterson, who served the city of Austin for 14 years as coordinator of xeriscape and rainwater programs. Details
If you’ve been wishing for a rain barrel, the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District is having a rain barrel distribution on July 27th at the Kendall County Court House in Boerne. Special discounted prices include shipping to the pick-up site. Learn more and pre-order your barrels here.
H.B. 2062 as introduced could have set rainwater harvesting back ten years. But because of the dedicated work of a small group of rainwater professionals, the worst of H.B. 2062 (for the rainwater community) appears to have been struck. Next time could be different – very different, and very bad. A forum has been scheduled to begin organizing for effective, pro-active, rainwater harvesting advocacy in the interests of consumers, installers, manufacturers, vendors and municipalities. Details
The City of San Marcos is partnering with RainWater Solutions to offer water-conserving rain barrels at an exceptional price. For a limited time the 50 gallon “Ivy” rain barrels are available for $67 each. City of San Marcos water customers are eligible for a 50% rebate, bringing total cost to only $33.50 each. Buyers do not have to be a San Marcos resident of San Marcos to purchase the barrels, but only City water customers are eligible for the rebate. Learn More
The TRWCA Annual Conference will be held all day Friday and Saturday, May 10–11 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in San Marcos. HCA will have a booth promoting our Rainwater Revival event – Come on by and see us! Learn More
The Court issued an order preventing the TCEQ from approving or granting new water permits affecting the Guadalupe or San Antonio Rivers “until the State of Texas provides reasonable assurances to the Court” that new permits would not result in harm to the whooping cranes. Learn More
Water conservation has become a hot-button issue as water becomes more expensive and scarcer, especially during times of drought. Restrictions on landscape watering are common during the hotter months, and the (San Antonio) city council recently approved an 8.4 percent rate increase that SAWS requested. But customers who install catchment systems develop habits that reduce water usage, said Jim Champion of San Antonio-based Texas Rainfall Catchment. “Even with the smallest system, people gain new, better habits about using water,” he said. “They become more conscious of their water use.” Read more from SA Express-News
Hill Country schools in 17 counties are now eligible to apply for grants funded by professionally painted “art rain barrels” auctioned at the highly successful 2012 Rainwater Revival, held in Boerne in October. Learn More
What Mike says to San Angelo can apply throughout the Hill Country, “If San Angelo and the region are to continue to survive and prosper economically and if Texas is to be sustainable with its limited water resources, then residents must learn to conserve water all the time — not just in drought situations." Learn More
Applications are being accepted for the 2012 Texas Rain Catcher Award. The Texas Water Development Board holds the annual competition to promote the technology, educate the public in the practice of harvesting rainwater, and recognize excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas. The competition is open to all individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities, and local and state governmental entities in Texas. The deadline for submitting an entry is December 31. Learn More
Two Austin schools – J.J. Pickle Elementary and Eden Park Academy – are receiving financial assistance to help conserve water resources at their schools and teach students about the value of water conservation. Both schools have been awarded grants by the Rainwater Revival, an annual event that brings together water conservation experts and the public. Learn More
Hard-packed, fractured stretches of bone-dry earth and pale, cloudless skies with months of unrelenting heat isn’t exactly an appropriate backdrop for a conversation about rainwater harvesting. Or is it? Sanjeev Kalaswad, rainwater harvesting coordinator with the Texas Water Development Board and a leading proponent of rainwater harvesting in the state, thinks it’s just the right context for enlightening Texans about collecting and storing rainwater. Read more from Texas Co-op Power.
Kerrville and much of our Texas Hill Country, has a limited amount of water to spare—either groundwater or surface water. In recent decades many of the Central Edwards Plateau counties have boomed in population, growth and tourism activity. Read HCA Advisory Board member Mike Mecke's article in Ranch & Rural Living Magazine.
Elementary and Middle Schools in 17 Hill Country counties now have until June 15 to apply for classroom grants focused on teaching water conservation and rainwater catchment to students, courtesy of the annual Rainwater Revival. Grants of up to $900 per selected application will be awarded for use during the 2012-2013 school year. Learn More
The Hill Country Alliance, organizer of the Rainwater Revival, is seeking grant applications from elementary and middle schools in 17 counties throughout the Hill Country to be used for water conservation education or rainwater harvesting projects at school sites. Learn More
Everyone interested in the quality of their rainwater is invited to the first Water Wise Conference, Saturday, April 28th at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Cedar Creek, Texas. The program, “What’s in your rainwater – and how do you find out?” will begin at 9:30 a.m. and feature Environmental Laboratory Services/LCRA chemists Tess Abbott, Ariana Dean and Susan Benavidez. The three-hour event will include extensive “Q&A” as well as hands-on opportunities to practice using various water testing equipment. Learn More
A well driller wasn't among the contractors Bobby Watson hired when he built a new home overlooking Canyon Lake. Like a growing number of Texans, he opted to get water from the sky. In the driest times, they had 6,000 gallons in the two 10,000-gallon storage tanks that are camouflaged to blend in with surrounding trees. With the average San Antonian using 130 gallons per person per day, they were never in danger of running out. Read more from SA Express-News.
The study took over a year to complete and is a survey of vendors in the rainwater harvesting market. Learn More from HarvestH20.com.
"Statistics provided by the Texas Water Development Board show that groundwater withdrawal from the Hill Country's Edwards and Trinity aquifers increased dramatically between 1975 and 2010. In 1975, less than 10,000 acre-feet were withdrawn annually; that shot up to 41,000 acre-feet in 2010. Mix in recent drought years, and a picture of a thirsty Hill Country natural world comes into sharper focus." Read more from SA Express-News.
Dear Santa, I've been reasonably good and would like pearl earrings, an electric lap blanket, a digital reading device and, oh yes, a rain water harvesting system. With water being a top concern, you may want to add this to your Christmas wish list. Capturing rain water is a great way to improve your water resources. Read more from MyWestTexas.com.
Time is running out to submit your entry for the 4th Annual Texas Rain Catcher Award. The Texas Water Development Board's (TWDB) Texas Rain Catcher Award is a "rainwater harvesting" competition and recognition program designed to promote rainwater technology, educate the public, and recognize excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 31. More information on eligibility, benefits, judging, entries and past winners is available on the TWDB's Innovative Water Technologies website.
Senator Wentworth promotes HCA’s Rainwater Revival as he informs constituents about Kendall County's action to strengthening watering restrictions and water conservation measures. Read the full story here.
At the 2nd Annual Rainwater Revival set for October 8 in Dripping Springs, you will learn how easy it can be for everyone to capture and enjoy the benefits of rainwater. The lineup of speakers will educate and inspire – with topics including Rainwater Harvesting 101, Designing and Building for Rainwater, the Water/Energy Nexus, Installing your Own System, and Making Your Own Rain Barrels. State Rep. Doug Miller and representatives from two key state agencies will provide an update on how State and local governments are supporting and encouraging rainwater capture. Read more
The rainwater harvesting bill made it through the Texas Legislature this week and is headed to the Governor’s desk. Read KUT story here.
The passage of Texas House Bill 3391, known as the Rainwater Harvesting Bill, represents a giant step forward for conservation of water resources and water security for the state. Rainwater harvesting is one of the best solutions to limited water resources and an increasing demand on water supply in Texas. Read more here.
Rainwater Harvesting is one of the most simple and effective water conservation tools for the Hill Country. Last year HCA co-hosted the first annual Rainwater Revival to provide education and enthusiasm for Rainwater collection. The event was a huge success and we are busy making plans for 2011! Sponsorship available now, contact HCA for more information. To learn about last year's event see http://www.rainwaterrevival.com. HCA would like to send out a huge thank you to the LCRA and Hays County for their support. You can find more information about Rainwater Harvesting on this HCA issue page: http://www.hillcountryalliance.org/HCA/RainwaterHarvesting
The Texas Rainwater Catchment Association (TRCA) is hosting their State Conference in Kerrville. This event is free and open to the public, March 18th and 19th. Learn more
A public hearing on new development rules drew only two speakers, both supportive of a proposal in the new rules that would allow subdivisions that rely on rainwater collection to provide potable water. Read full Boerne Star article here.
The Rainwater Revival today announced the speaker and live music line-up for this outdoor festival created to celebrate the timeless conservation practice of rainwater collection. Read more here.
The Rainwater Revival will be a fantastic opportunity for the entire Hill Country conservation community to come together in support of rainwater harvesting. Sponsorships and vendor booths are now available and filling fast. The event will take place October 9th in Dripping Springs. Click here to find out how you or your organization can get involved.
Texas AgriLife Extention is offering a self-directed online course designed to help small acreage landowners gain an understanding of how to collect rainwater for livestock. Click here for details.
Sustainable Concept House Workshop, May 29th, and two Rainwater Harvesting Workshops, June 12 and July 10. Click here for more.
The Rainwater Revival is coming to Dripping Springs on 10-9-10. A brainstorm of the Hays County Water Conservation Working Group, The Rainwater Revival will be a fun, festive, educational event to spread the good word on rainwater harvesting and water conservation, the importance of which grows with our ever increasing population. Click here to check out the event website for volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.
A two-year standoff is ending between the city and a businesswoman who refused to take municipal water because she'd installed a rainwater catchment system on her new building. Read full SA Express article here.
The mission of the Texas Rainwater Catchment Association is to provide Texas citizens with credible information and resources on rainwater collection, to promote the advancement of rainwater conservation and to work with state, county and other local government units in promoting rainwater catchment. The agenda of this conference has been put together with that mission in mind. - Details and Registration
A one-inch rain falling on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields 600 gallons of water — a bounty during times of drought, according to Hill Country Master Naturalist Jim Stanley. But storing rainwater is just one of the benefits of a rainwater harvesting system, said Stanley, who has served as a Riverside Nature Center volunteer for the past eight years. Read full Kerrville Daily Times article here.
Many Bandera County residents have been wondering the obvious, when is it going to rain? Naturally, we are all concerned about our water supplies and whether our wells will withstand the drought. Asserting he can provide an alternative to groundwater usage, Bryon Moseley, of Rain Catchment Systems, Inc., claims it's all on the roof. Read full Bandera Bulletin article here.
It seems somewhat counterintuitive that the longer the drought persists, the more demand grows for rainwater harvesting systems around the Hill Country. They're increasingly popular because, in spite of sparse rainfall, clouds may prove a more reliable long-term water source than wells because of recent rapid growth. Read full Mysanantonio.com article here.
Rainwater harvesting is fast becoming an attractive water supply option in many areas of Texas; some households are even using it as their sole source of water. Although rainwater is generally clean, it can contain chemical and biological contaminants. Some of these contaminants are picked up in the atmosphere, but others are from the roof of a building when rain comes in contact with it. Read full article TWDB's newsletter here.
With rainwater catchment dating back to 4,000 years ago, the statement "Where every drop counts" has rung true throughout the centuries in countries around the world. As our region continues to endure almost 2-years of drought conditions and our groundwater resources diminishing more with each passing day, one local Boerne couple continues to prove this method works and the statement is true. Read full Hill Country Times article here.
While Hari Krishna was visiting his native India recently, he traveled through a remote rural village and saw that rainwater was being collected from the roofs of some of the buildings. He stopped and asked the villagers how they learned to build the catchment system. One man went inside and promptly brought out a copy of The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting written by none other than Krishna. A longtime employee of the Texas Water Development Board, now working as a consultant, Krishna was gratified to find his handbook so far from home, but not all that surprised. Read full TP&W artile here.
Talk about the concept of a self-sustained home and the image that comes to mind is a rustic cabin with bare minimum comforts. But one couple in the Texas Hill Country — Rick and Stephanie Ertel — has erased that image. The couple has built a platinum-certified LEED home that is both environmentally friendly and luxurious. What’s more, it also won an Austin Energy Five-star rating. Read full SA Business Journal article here.
DURANGO, Colo. — For the first time since territorial days, rain will be free for the catching here, as more and more thirsty states part ways with one of the most entrenched codes of the West. Precipitation, every last drop or flake, was assigned ownership from the moment it fell in many Western states, making scofflaws of people who scooped rainfall from their own gutters. In some instances, the rights to that water were assigned a century or more ago. Read full NY Times article here.
When it rains most people stay in and look out. But the next time it rains, get dressed and go out. This is the best way to really know what the flow of water is on ... and off your property. Read full article in Rain Garden Networks latest newsletter here.
"Residents from all over the Hill Country of Texas who are concerned about water conservation are learning how Mother Nature can lend a helping hand," writes Scott Sticker for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. "The Texas AgriLife Extension Service on Saturday afternoon hosted a rainwater harvesting seminar at its Comal County extension office where gardeners, agriculture experts and the everyday water drinker had the chance to learn how to properly harvest and filter rainwater for various needs." Read the full Herald Zeitung story here.
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Former President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “Saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls.” In Texas, where about 95 percent of the land is privately owned, and 83 percent of that land is rural farms, ranches and forests, it is essential that all Texans understand the interconnection of land and water to ensure the healthy stewardship of both, according to natural resource professionals. Read more from TAMU.
The topic of land stewardship has gained a great deal of public attention during recent years. This is a good trend since it helps focus greater awareness to the importance of how the land is treated, and the people who carry out responsible land care. However, land stewardship to some extent, has become a catchphrase; feel-good words; frequently used but seldom clearly defined. In some ways, land stewardship is becoming an over-used slogan; thus the need to clarify its true meaning and character. Read more by Steve Nelle.
The legislative session is gearing up, and increasing groundwater production will be the objective of at least a couple of bills. Groundwater will be an important asset for Texas' future water portfolio, but should maximization be the goal? That's one of the questions Our Desired Future is meant to provoke. Read Sharlene Leurig’s recent op-ed in the Texas Tribune.
“Where have all the monarchs gone?” This is becoming an oft repeated query, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are asking for citizen help in answering the question. Since monitoring of overwintering monarch butterfly populations 1993, the WWF has documented a significant decline that reached an all-time low in the winter of 2013. Biologists recently launched a project to explore Texas milkweed and determine where it is, how much is out there and are the monarchs using it. Read more.
A TCEQ Public Meeting will be held Monday night, December 15th at 7 pm at Star Hill Ranch to hear concerns about the wastewater treatment plant to service this large, dense proposed development. Community members encourage participation as this development will profoundly change the Hamilton Pool Road neighborhood. View the meeting notice here. You can learn more about this project and other issues affecting the Bee Cave and Hamilton Pool Road community at www.HPRmatters.com.
Water is not traditionally thought of as a crop, but Water As A Crop® and its partners are hoping to change that. This organization promotes the idea that water falling on private, rural land can be effectively conserved and marketed in a manner similar to crops. In exchange for implementing conservation practices, rural landowners receive financial incentives to reimburse their costs. These conservation practices benefit investors and landowners and preserve water for rural and urban communities alike. Read more from Texas Water Resource Institute.
You’ve been hearing about SWIFT for months; TWDB is now ready to implement this revolving loan program for water supply projects. The first round of applications are due February 3rd. Conservation is the least expensive and most efficient strategy of all which is why SWIFT legislation requires that not less than 20 percent of this program (hopefully more) is spent on conservation and reuse. Learn more
Los Angeles is a city that is notorious for its use of water- importing it from hundreds of miles away and delivering stormwater to the Pacific Ocean through the Los Angeles River, which largely has been converted to a concrete ditch. The story that is less often told is how this city of 3.8 million, and cities across the country, have begun implementing conservation practices that have shrunk their water footprint and changed the way we look at stormwater. Read more here.
Despite the fact that Texas counties have very little real control over how unincorporated land is developed, Travis County is giving it its best effort, as Commissioners approved a comprehensive Land Water and Transportation Plan on Tuesday. Read more from Austin Monitor.
Stanley Rabke’s family has lived and worked on their Hill Country ranch since 1889. Generations of Rabkes have struggled with the extremes of Texas weather, but one storm sticks out in Stanley’s memory: it came after the drought of the 1950s. Learn about the Bureau of Economic Geology research the Rabke’s are participating in. Read the full story from Mose Buchele at State Impact.
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.
Storing and using the rainwater that falls on your roof can improve the quality of your drinking water and free you from the restricted use of water for your landscape in time of drought. The Cow Creek GCD has provided several video examples to show how it's done.
Residents are concerned that a sand quarry would destroy the tranquility of the rural community. Because mines typically operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a quarry would bring noise and heavy truck traffic to the area…and because Pontotoc is emerging as a destination for wine tasting, local vintners fear that noise and dust from a mine would bring an end to a growing ecotourism business that has brought visitors to its tasting rooms. Read more from the San Antonio Express News.
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance has published "Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region, a Low Impact Development Manual." The manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas. Information about techniques that encourage infiltration of clean stormwater on site, and how plantings and landscaping can be used to mitigate stormwater pollution are outlined. Download the manual for free here.
Groundwater rights have been hotly debated in Texas for as long as there has been the ability to pump it. Unlike surface water, which is owned by the state and held in trust for the public, Texas courts have ruled that groundwater is the surface owner’s vested private property. This vested right can be regulated by Groundwater Conservation Districts. Read more from Texas Living Waters.
This 60 Minutes segment on Groundwater Depletion in California’s Central Valley explores California’s drought and the depletion of it’s Central Valley aquifer due to agricultural over-pumping. With dwindling reservoirs here in Central Texas and ever growing population projections, numerous proposals are under consideration to pump and pipe groundwater to the I-35 Corridor and beyond. What can the Hill Country learn from California’s “groundwater overdraft?”
HCA has been recognized as an "HONORARY MEMBER” in the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist for exemplary service and commitment to the community and natural resources of the State of Texas. Thank you Dixie Camp and the HCMN for many years of collaboration, we look forward to many more. Read more about the award and learn about the Master Naturalist program here.
The Hill Country Alliance, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy, will host a workshop on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones in the Hill Country. The workshop will feature presentations on riparian plants, basic hydrology, and techniques for ensuring healthy riparian function. The workshop will take place from 8am-4pm on Friday, December 5th. A variety of continuing education credits are available. Details
This amazing natural area is devoted to protecting the habitats of hundreds of species of native flora and fauna, grasslands, wooded hills and canyons, and vital watersheds. Thousands of school children visit and participate in hands-on learning experiences here. Learn more about this resource and how you can help protect it. Friends of Balcones Canyonlands
"The regulatory process, including groundwater districts' permitting process for huge commercial projects like this one, must afford the same due process to landowners who do not wish to sell their groundwater as it provides to private water marketers who derive their water rights from landowners who do choose to sell water." Read more
"Prince Charles has warned that the majority of people have 'lost any real connection with the land' as he outlined his concerns about the future of the countryside. He stressed the benefits to the wider economy of the countryside's 'ecosystem services' - with meadows and other grasslands storing millions of tonnes of carbon, providing homes for pollinating insects, supporting the agricultural economy and areas of beauty attracting visitors to boost local tourism." These issues translate here in the Texas Hill Country, read more from The Guardian.
“Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.” Take a look at these maps that illustration how serious water shortages are in California, it’s essential to learn this lesson and protect healthy aquifers here in Texas, particularly here in the Hill Country.
"The take-away message from this study," Dr. Crompton says, "should be that the state park system is an important contributor to the Texas economy, particularly in rural areas and that the state’s net investment in parks is returned many times over as visitors travel to enjoy the outdoors and leave their dollars behind." Many of state’s most popular parks are right here in the Texas Hill Country. More from TPWD.
Ranchers and Landowners Association in collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District will be hosting a rainwater catchment program November 15th in Bandera. Topics will include the state of Bandera County water, rainwater harvesting systems, and rainwater harvesting impact on appraisals. Details
Do you live in karst? About 25% of the US and the planet’s land surface is karst. Karst areas are the world’s most diverse, fascinating, resource-rich, yet problematic terrains. They contain the largest springs and most productive groundwater supplies on Earth. They provide unique subsurface habitat to rare animals, and their caves preserve fragile prehistoric material for millennia. They are also the landscapes most vulnerable to environmental impacts. Their groundwater is the most easily depleted and polluted. Learn more about the importance of Karsts during a free webinar from SNS, November 18. Details
Last week, the San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the Vista Ridge Project that plans to bring 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater from Burleson County to the city. Because of our many concerns with this project, the vote was a disappointment, but last Thursday’s Council deliberation did stir some positives worth discussing. Read more from Texas Living Waters.
While much of the plan is dedicated to the preservation of farmland, watersheds and nature preserves, other parts focus on encouraging building more dense, urban-like centers in the county’s unincorporated and undeveloped areas. Read more from Community Impact.
On November 6, 2014, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) adopted a set of rules needed for fully implementing SWIFT in the lone star state. These rules will determine how projects eligible for SWIFT will be prioritized for funding. Now that the rules are official, public water providers are encouraged to submit an abridged application as the first step to receiving funding. More from TWDB.
HCA is interested in learning how you feel about the challenges facing the Texas Hill Country. Please take two minutes to fill out a brief public opinion survey by Monday, November 10th and you may win a two night stay at the Cool River Cabin along the beautiful Llano River. Take the survey here.
CNU Texas Chapter is bringing Chuck back to Texas for a three hour workshop on sensible transportation and infrastructure planning. “We advocate for a model of growth that allows America's places to grow financially strong and resilient,” Strong Towns. Chuck was a huge hit at HCA’s Summit, catch him November 20th in Austin. Learn more
Yes! Rainwater harvesting is a doable, practical, affordable and great tasting way to provide water for homes, gardens and businesses. That was the message heard by the more than 750 people who came out to Dripping Springs to celebrate and learn at HCA's day long edu-fest. Attendees enjoyed 63 booths filled with helpful information and demonstrations, live music, great food and 13 speakers who discussed a range of rainwater harvesting and water conservation related topics. Thanks to all who participated and we'll see you next year! See photos from this year's event here.
Blayne Stansberry has been announced as the unofficial winner of of the Precinct 2 Directorship for The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. She and Director Craig Smith (Precinct 5, uncontested this election) will serve 4 year terms and join current directors Mary Stone (Precinct 1), Blake Dorsett (Precinct 3) and Robert (Bob) Larsen (Precinct 4) on the Board. More from BSEACD.
Balancing Rural and Urban Water Needs: How Local and Regional Planning Activities Ensure Long-Term Supplies. Join State Representative-Elect Andrew Murr as he moderates a discussion with SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott; Hydro-geologist, Region J consultant, John Ashworth and GBRA director/former CCGCD president, Tommy Mathews. Difficult decisions lie ahead as urban areas demand more water, rural areas experience loss of spring flow and our region faces increased challenges brought by population growth and drought. Are Central Texas’ water planning processes on track to balance the needs of its rural and urban users and protect the natural water resources that sustain our ecologic and economic health? Learn more
On October 31 the LCRA formally submitted an application with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) for the construction of a 138-kV transmission line project in Blanco, Gillespie and Kendall counties. Potentially impacted landowners should receive notice in the mail in the coming days. That information is also posted on the LCRA website. Potentially impacted landowners are encouraged to review the application documents, including the updated map, and participate in the PUC process. Landowners have until December 15 to become formal interveners in the PUC review process. More information and instructions on accessing LCRA TSC’s complete CCN application are available here.
Last week, the San Antonio City Council “unanimously voted in front of a packed chamber to approve a controversial pipeline that would bring in groundwater from 142 miles away. The $3.4 billion project would pipe in 16 billion gallons of water each year from Central Texas' Burleson County.” Read the full story as well as related stories leading up to this vote in the Texas Tribune.
The Community Gardens Program recently announced that the Bamberger Foundation will be funding a new urban garden in San Antonio. The garden will emulate many of the practices set forth by J. David Bamberger at the award winning Bamberger Ranch Preserve in Johnson City. Learn more
Driving through western portions of Austin, maybe you’ve noticed scenic, tree-covered hills spreading across the landscape and wondered when they will become a new shopping area or residential development. While growth is inevitable, it is also important to preserve land for the environmental benefits it provides. Learn more
Water is a hot topic in Texas – and it’s getting hotter. Register for Trib + Water to stay informed. This bi-weekly newsletter is brought to you at no cost by The Meadows Center for the Environment and The Texas Tribune.
“The project is much too important and costly for San Antonio not to have a full and complete understanding about the reliability of the groundwater supply.” Read more from this open-letter by Dr. Curtis Chubb, rancher and groundwater expert, published in the Rivard Report. Citizens have the opportunity to address the San Antonio City Council each Wednesday at 6:00 pm. The Alamo Group of the Sierra Club has created a clearinghouse of articles and reports to keep you informed. SA City Council is likely to vote on the project Thursday, October 30th.
“This historic decision puts us within reach of purchasing the entire tract of land and protecting the habitat Bracken’s bats have used for thousands of years.” Read more from Bat Conservation International. “San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the county, in part because of the vast natural resources of the region. It’s our responsibility to ensure we protect and conserve what makes this region incredibly special.” Councilman Ron Nirenburg, quoted in the Rivard Report.
There's a lot of evidence that millennials don't drive as much — or care as much for cars in general — as previous generations their own age did. They're less likely to get driver's licenses. They tend to take fewer car trips, and when they do, those trips are shorter. They're also more likely than older generations to get around by alternative means: by foot, by bike, or by transit. There's still a lot of dispute, however, over exactly what these trends mean. Read more from the Washington Post.
"Everything from urban development to dance hall preservation was on the agenda at the Hill Country Alliance 2014 Leadership Summit, held Thursday at the Nimitz Hotel Ballroom." Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.
“We are reaching a point in Texas where simply standing on common ground is not enough. The lives of urban and rural Texans are irreversibly intertwined, so we must all join forces to create and define initiatives and policies that conserve the common good, while protecting the heritage of private landowners.” Read more of David K. Langford's guest blog for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.
Most food growers rely on tap water to keep their plants alive during dry weather, but gardeners are discovering that chemicals in tap water harm the soil organisms that plants depend upon to absorb nutrients. As a result, more and more gardeners are storing rainwater. Read more from Sustainable Food Center.
For the past year, San Antonio City officials, Bat Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and many other organizations and community leaders have been searching for a solution to avert a 3,500-home development over the Edwards Aquifer and adjacent to Bracken Cave Preserve. Next week, San Antonio's city council will meet to vote on whether to invest $5 million from their Edwards Aquifer Protection Program toward the purchase of the property and a conservation easement to protect aquifer recharge. Learn more from BCI.
City Council chambers filled Wednesday evening with more than 100 people who signed up to speak for or against the proposed SAWS-Vista Ridge Consortium water agreement. Individuals were given two minutes to express their views, while group representatives were allotted five minutes. Read more from the Rivard Report.
“I have never understood why in Texas zoning laws are good for city mice but not for country mice, especially as we lose more and more of the open land that is necessary to our survival as a species every year, but that is the way it is and there seems to be no way to change it until Texans get tired of seeing our state gobbled up by strip malls and truck stops and march on the state capitol armed with shotguns and pruning hooks.” Read this personal story about the Hill Country, by Lonn Taylor, featured in The Big Bend Sentinel. Learn more about County Authority in Texas here.
The public is invited to learn more about the process to develop a Roadway Character Plan for FM 150 from near Arroyo Ranch Road northwest through the Driftwood to RR 12 in Dripping Springs at an October 16 meeting. Hays County Commissioners Will Conley and Ray Whisenant are hosting the meeting to share information about the roadway and gather ideas from the public about what this important cross-county road needs to look like as changes are phased in to improve mobility and safety. Details
“..the effects of human endeavors all around the planet can be gauged by listening to the sounds of different habitats. Wild, urban, rural — they all can be interpreted.” Read more from Bernie Krause in “Call of the Wild,” featured in Sun Magazine. Find out what neighbors are doing through the Noise Pollution Clearning House.
“Through Texas Land Trends, we have been able to raise awareness that ‘Yes, we have a lot of land in Texas,’ but we are losing it at a faster rate than most other states in the country, and that loss is having profound impacts on our agricultural base, our water resources and our native wildlife habitat,” Fitzsimons said. Read more about Land Trends.
A community workshop will be held October 9th from 6–8 pm as part of a “Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process,” a planning approach that invites the surrounding communities and neighborhoods to influence the design, so that it reflects their cultural and historic values and aesthetic preferences. Learn more about the event hosted by the CTRMA and TxDot. Explore http://Fix290.org for more information.
HCA has released their 9th Texas Hill Country Calendar. Once again, this calendar delivers stunning photography while remaining an informative resource on Hill Country conservation. The stunning photographs featured throughout the 2015 calendar were chosen from nearly 400 submissions to HCA’s 2014 Photo Contest. Learn more
San Antonio is one step closer to buying some of the most expensive water ever sold in Texas, just as the deal is drawing more critics. Read more from Texas Tribune.
at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm on Oct. 6-11 Volunteers interested in learning about Hill Country wildlife and contributing to its scientific study are encouraged to become citizen scientists during the Wildlife Field Research “bio-blitz” taking place Oct. 6-11 at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Wildlife Field Research is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Learn more
The Highway Beautification Act will be 50 years old next year. As envisioned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, it was supposed to protect the natural landscape from billboards. Ever since its passage, scenic activists and billboard companies have been at war over the views along American highways. More from NPR.
The San Antonio Water System Board will vote Monday on a $3.40-billion landmark water deal that would pipe in 50,000 acre-feet of water to San Antonio annually as soon as 2019, enough to meet 20% of the growing city’s future water needs. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Monday’s vote by SAWS is step one, San Antonio City Council will ultimately consider and vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. Who is this water for? Where will it ultimately go? Who will ultimately pay and what are the long-term financial implications? Show up at UTSA Monday night for a balanced panel discussion. Get educated and get involved. Event details
“The 522 page draft contract for this $3.4 billion deal was posted on-line on September 23rd, giving the SAWS Board and the public less than a week to review a deal that will have far reaching implications for our community, including an estimated 16% rate hike for SAWS customers.” Read more from GEAA. As Margaret Day of the Alamo Sierra Club points out “to be sustainable, aquifer drawdown should be no greater than recharge.” Read this opinion piece from the Alamo Sierran Word.
Travis County is seeking public comments by Wednesday, Oct 1st on their Land, Water and Transportation plan. Read the plan, take the survey and/or send your comments via email. Meanwhile, CAMPO is taking comments until Oct 6th on a variety of projects including a study to construct a major tollway across sensitive preserve lands. “Traffic solution costly, harmful to environment” Read “City to oppose proposed tollroad” in the Austin American Statesmen.
The League of Women Voters of Comal Area invites the public to attend “The Trinity Aquifer: A Shared Resource/ A Shared Responsibility,” to be held October 7 in Canyon Lake. “If you drink water in Comal County, you are likely to be drinking Trinity water, or you soon will be. It is up to all of us to learn more about this resource, no matter where in Comal County we live.” Learn more
It's no secret that drought has been a major factor in the declining water levels of our lakes and reservoirs here in Texas. But there is another factor that has has received very little attention - evaporation. Read more from Texas Living Waters.
The stars may seem a little brighter over Kerrville next year. The Kerrville Public Utility Board last week set aside about $734,000 to upgrade 2,000 city street lights to “full cut-off,” high-efficiency LED lamps that won’t shine light upward. Read More from the Kerrville Daily Times.
Last week’s “Water Crisis” event hosted by The Hays County Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) drew a huge crowd and continues to create a lot of meaningful conversations about how rural lands west of I-35 will be developed. Learn more
Even as Cibolo Nature Center staffers celebrate a major milestone with the completed restoration of the historic Herff farmhouse, they're setting ambitious new goals. Read more from SA Express-News.
Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. Were sitting just below normal. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most. “The watershed that helps our water supplies isn’t here in Austin; it’s way up into the counties to the north of us." Read more from State Impact.
Land fragmentation has been a growing problem for Texas, and by all appearances it isn’t going to slow any time soon. The state’s population continues to grow rapidly, and those residents have an insatiable appetite for land. Read more from Livestock Weekly.
As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.
With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. Whats the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Read this excellent article by Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.
ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country. View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.
Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.
“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.
to host a free community meeting this Thursday to discuss why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. Speakers include Andy Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, and Bech Bruun of the TWDB. Details
The Fix 290 Coalition, a group of over 40 organizations and businesses and 2,800 petition signers, have been advocating for a “parkway" concept to move traffic through Oak Hill and protect the original character and unique natural environment of the area for more than a decade. The City of Austin is now asking for a study of this community driven “parkway” alternative to TxDot’s traditional elevated/frontage road model. Read more from Fix290.
On Saturday, September 6th the Hill Country Alliance hosted a landowner workshop for those landowners potentially impacted by the LCRA's proposed Blumenthal substation and transmission line project. The workshop featured an update from the LCRA on the status of their application to the Public Utility Commission, and a panel discussion of landowner rights during the transmission line routing and construction process. To read a more detailed summary of the event and access speaker presentations, click here.
A decade ago, prospective water marketers easily secured the rights to pump more than 20 billion gallons of water annually from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas’ Burleson County. The company now holding those rights, BlueWater, is negotiating a $3 billion deal to send much of that water to San Antonio. Read more from The Texas Tribune.
December 15 in Boerne - GMA 9 Joint Planning Meeting - Details
December 17 in San Antonio - Public Hearing on Edwards Aquifer Protection Program - Details
January 24 in Bastrop - "The Rural-Urban Coalition for Local Control," first annual meeting hosted by the League of Independent Voters of Texas - Details
February 5 in Junction - Save the date: Stakeholder meeting for the Upper Llano River Watershed Protection - Details
February 13-15 in Austin - Urban Riparian Symposium - Details
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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