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.
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 the current drought sweeping Texas and the Southwest continues, state leaders work to create rules and procedures for wisely administering the $2 billion in water infrastructure loan funds approved overwhelmingly by legislators and voters in 2013. Investments made through this program are critical to the future of Texas and will come none too soon, particularly those investments related to water conservation. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) soon will announce draft rules and priorities for how SWIFT funds will be spent. In advance of that announcement, the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) convened a roundtable discussion in Blanco on June 4th where HCA board, advisory team and other water and land stewardship experts discussed a range of solutions that could save money and provide water to see the state through future severe droughts. Read more
“The path to a secure water future – and thus, our economic prosperity – was largely written when this area was first settled over the Edwards Aquifer centuries ago. Sound planning will be necessary to ensure clean and abundant water for generations to come and to maintain the aquifer as a primary strategic economic and environmental asset.” Read more from San Antonio Councilman Ron Nirenberg published in the Rivard Report.
The Trinity Aquifer and the Upper Guadalupe River are major components of the hill country’s available water supply. While these water resources typically do not receive as much attention as the more prominent Edwards Aquifer, for example, with the rapidly growing population in this part of the state their importance has never been more crucial. Read more from Livestock Weekly.
Recent rainfall in Austin delivered more water to the Gulf, but little to lakes Travis and Buchanan, the area’s water supply reservoirs. With near average rainfall the last two years and the lakes continuing to fall, a historic flood or an extremely wet year is necessary to replenish central Texas water supplies and avoid the unthinkable. Read more from Tom Hegemier of the Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed an updated version of its 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. The website, http://texasstatewaterplan.org, allows Texans to access information about water demands and needs (also referred to as shortages or deficits) around the state. The latest module release includes: data on water demand projections - the total amount of water that users will require (in each planning decade) to maintain business as usual through the drought, an additional map layer, and improved functionality that allows users to easily switch between types of planning data while viewing each geographic area of interest
A report issued by the non-profit Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS) finds that the current water planning process in Texas tends to over-estimate future water demand and under-estimate the potential for making better use of existing supplies. “This report shows that, with more reasonable demand projections and better use of conservation and drought management, the demand/supply gap in 2060 is less than one-half that predicted by the current 2012 State Water Plan issued by TWDB. Read more and download the report from TCPS. Read more from the Texas Tribune, “How Much Water Will Texas Really Need by 2060?”
“Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers,” is a 3-part webinar series designed to inform people about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries. If you missed session one, presentations delivered by Myron Hess, Andy Sansom and Brian Richter are posted on the Texas Living Waters website. Mark your calendars and register now for the next two sessions scheduled for May 28th and June 25th. Great work by our friends at Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
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 Hays County Commissioners Court is actively searching for partners in a quest to supply water for the future growth expected west of I-35. Additionally, developers, water marketers, and local politicians are looking for new sources of water that will provide for that growth. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer east of I-35 is being marketed as an abundant resource ready for export into the Hill Country that would supplement the Hill Country’s already strained Trinity Aquifer. This Austin American Statesman article by Andra Lim reports on a recent Hays, Travis and Williamson combined County Commissioners Court meeting to explore the formation of a regional water grid that would pipe water from Bastrop and Lee Counties to points west of I-35.
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
Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days. But just moving money around doesn’t create water. That’s why what’s happening now at the state’s Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is so important. Read more from Ken Kramer at TexasLivingWaters.org.
How are the city’s current policies affecting water quality and supply? How do the city’s growth strategies impact our water security measures? Do these efforts complement or conflict with each other? And most importantly, how are ratepayers impacted? A full transcript of Nirenberg’s keynote to the Resilience Conference are posted on the Rivard Report. His must read request to Council related to the Edwards Aquifer and Water Supply Planning can be read here.
“The chairmanship is a posting that could easily tumble into cynicism, to the knowing feeling that despite legislative assurances that portions of the water money will be used for the sort of conservation project that Delia, the 9-year-old girl, favors, most of it will benefit the engineering, real estate and lobbying firms that have the most to gain from massive water projects.” Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman.
The State Comptroller’s Office released “Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution” earlier this month. The report demonstrates the value of conservation investments and innovation in water research and technology. A website was also launched to compliment the report and provide ongoing education about water use- some great thoughts here worth reading: http://www.txwaterreport.org.
“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.
A bid by San Antonio's water utility to declare ownership of the sewage it treats and releases has sparked a regional tug-of-war — one that could become more common as Texas' thirsty water users struggle to protect their supplies. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
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.
Imagine a water management strategy that would accommodate growth and development without unsustainably pumping down aquifers or incurring the huge expense and societal disruption to build reservoirs or transport water from remote supplies to developing areas. Welcome to the concept of Zero Net Water. Read more from waterblogue.com.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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 with nearly every beloved Texas river, the 600-mile Colorado River — which flows from West Texas to the Gulf Coast — is under serious threat. Drought and surging population growth have taken their toll on the water’s flow and its wildlife and, by extension, the farmers and fishermen who rely on it. Learn more from the Texas Tribune.
Proposition 6, to provide some funding and implementation of the State Water Plan, will appear on the November 6th ballot. Does HCA support everything about the State Water Plan and everything in it? No. Does HCA support the need to prioritize the projects included in the State Water Plan and invest heavily in conservation? YES!” Learn more from HCA.
In her recent contribution to the Rivard Report, Amy Hardberger explains, “The success of the city depends on a plan that includes all aspects of planning including water and energy needs within a land use context. A city cannot predict demand of resources before first determining who it will service, which is dependent on land use decisions.” This is true over the entire Hill Country region, especially beyond the city limits where counties don’t have any land use planning tools at all. Read Amy’s article here.
On September 26th LCRA submitted a request to TCEQ to seek emergency authorization to allow them to diverge from their Water Management Plan and suspend river flows to Matagorda Bay. Learn more from TexasLivingWaters.org.
Imagine the possibility of new, modern planning strategies to meet water needs and challenges ahead. Read this excellent blog post from Mary Kelly, Texas Center for Policy Studies.
The struggle over water management of the increasingly dry San Saba may not be new, but the debate over whether the irrigators upstream need to be monitored more closely has heated up this summer. Read more from NY Times.
Texas faces huge spending decisions to meet water supply challenges. All of us need to be aware of the possible implications of big infrastructure expenditures and ask the right questions to ensure that utilities and decision makers make the best decisions. HCA supports conservative solutions to meet future needs verses expensive plans to create new demand further from our cities and towns. Read Jennifer Walkers most recent blog here.
As with any major public policy initiative, the devil is in the details. So, what does HB 4 do and what can we expect to happen over the next few years? More from Texas Center for Policy Studies here.
A great illustration from State Impact of the change in water use with rice farmers cut off last year. Municipal use is now a much bigger piece of the pie, but how much of that 47% is used for watering lawns? Read more from State Impact here. Also, a telling report from Native American Seed about water conservation and taking care of your land. The TCEQ will conduct a public meeting regarding the LCRA water management plan on June 26th.
Texas’ environmental agency is putting the brakes on a long-term plan for managing Central Texas’ main water supply, saying Monday that the managers of the Highland Lakes may not be adequately accounting for the kind of drought now affecting the region. More from Statesman.com.
“The latest version of the LCRA Water Management Plan (WMP), which the TCEQ released for public comment on April 15, 2013, still raises serious concerns.” For example, recent years' data indicates the average inflows have significantly decreased but the plan still uses data from past assumptions. “Average inflows of 1,200,000 AF are assumed as compared to the recent five year average of 450,000 AF.” Read the full list of recommendations from CTWC.
The San Antonio Water System has stopped drawing water from Medina Lake and shut down its treatment plant on the Medina River because of problems with the quality of the lake water. More from SA Express-News.
The recent federal court opinion holding the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) accountable for the deaths of 23 whooping cranes because of inadequate freshwater inflows to San Antonio Bay has generated a lot of concern and discussion. Read More
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.
Seeing our legislature taking a good, long and hopefully, logical look at our State Water Plan and its financing is hopeful. But going for the big, expensive and glamorous water projects will often cause more problems and not reduce our appetite for what is now more precious than gold, oil or gaswater. Read more from Mike Mecke in Ranch & Rural living here.
A new water dialog has been launched www.waterblogue.com. “The stock in trade of water conservation programs practiced by cities and other water supply entities only tinkers around the margins of the basic water management infrastructure system; they do not attempt to fundamentally alter that system...what we need, if we are to approach sustainable water, are dependable, enduring long-term savings that are inherent in our water management processes. To get there, we need to get more deeply into how we manage water, and to fundamentally reform those processes." Read More
Facing a record-breaking drought with no end in sight, the Lower Colorado River Authority has again asked the state to allow us to not release water from the Highland Lakes for most downstream farmers this year unless substantial rainfall replenishes the reservoirs. LCRA’s Board of Directors took that action Jan. 8 for the second year in a row. Last year was the first time most rice farmers didn’t get any Highland Lakes water. Read More
Frank Harren, a commercial Realtor who serves on the LCRA’s Travis/Austin Regional Council, an advisory board, calculates that lakes Travis and Buchanan now have 28 months of water if recent trends continue. "Releasing water to the rice farmers would shave five months from that total," Harren said. More from Statesman.com.
It’s hard to look at any media in Texas today without being confronted by a dire outlook on the state’s water future. The jarring effects of a deep drought and the steep price tag attached to the state’s water plan definitely make for attention-grabbing copy. But for those who care about sustainable management of our limited water resources, property rights and fiscal discipline in the state budget, it’s worth a look behind those headlines. More from Statesman.com
Local and regional water suppliers say that state financial assistance is needed to fund about half of the total $53 billion price tag for water infrastructure projects in the current State Water Plan. However, simply providing funding without improving the plan and carefully prioritizing projects to be funded would not be an efficient use of taxpayer funds. More from Caller.com.
Milan Michalec, incoming President of the HCA Board of Directors, takes a look at water issues ahead of the 2013 legislative session. "Ground and surface water supplies originate with the rain that falls on the land and in turn, this water is captured by complex, large-scale ecological processes involving many variables, including plants, animals, soils and geology. We are every bit an integral part of the water cycle." Read the four-part series which will also be published in the Bandera County Courier beginning Thursday, December 6th.
With the lake now below 11 percent of its estimated storage capacity, each exposed post and trunk raise the threat that local residents will run out of water, farmers will have to let land go fallow and San Antonio will lose part of its water supply. More from SA Express-News.
Joey Park is the founding member of H2O4Texas. He told listeners at the South Texans’ Property Rights Association annual meeting that Texas has a water plan, though many people don’t know about it. “That brings us to a problem. That’s all it’s been: a book on the shelf for the last 10 years. We have not done anything about it except refer to it as our State Water Plan.” It is a serious document, though, with a list of things that need to be done, can be done and will be done to address the water needs of the state. It is missing a couple of things, namely funding. Read full Livestock Weekly article.
Once again, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is coming under fire from some Central Texans. The reason? A recommendation by agency staff that could lead to water being sent downstream next year for rice farming. Read more from State Impact.
In the most recent signal that drought conditions have eased since 2011, the staff of the Lower Colorado River Authority recommended last week that board members not seek emergency power from the state to cut off water next year for rice farmers. That’s a reversal from September 2011, when the LCRA’s board approved an emergency plan to cut off water to rice farmers if less than 850,000 acre-feet of water was stored in lakes Travis and Buchanan, the LCRA’s two main reservoirs, on March 1 of this year. More from Statesman.com.
“We need to be very careful in not misleading the people that we can build our way out of this problem,” he said, noting the loss of agriculture and undeveloped land is a direct threat to water quality and that no amount of reservoirs or pipelines could replace the water needed if Texas loses the natural systems it is dependent on. Read more from SA Express-News.
The San Antonio Water System is considering loosening watering restrictions that should make drought-weary residents happy, allowing them, for example, to wash their cars at home on Saturdays. Read full SA Express-News article.
New Braunfels Utilities reported a surge in water use this week after experiencing a dramatic drop the week before when the utility banned the use of sprinklers and irrigation systems. Average daily water consumption by its 25,000 customers dipped to about 11 million gallons last week during the first-ever implementation of Stage 3 restrictions, said NBU spokeswoman Gretchen Reuwer. Read more from SA Express-News.
The Coalition for Equitable Water Rates (CEWR), a ratepayers’ group fighting a proposed 71 percent water-rate hike, said in a press release that it presented arguments recently in a formal hearing of its rate case against Canyon Lake Water Service Co. (CLWSC). Read more from Herald-Zeitung Online.
Carrying water so precious it has been called liquid gold, the 23 major rivers in Texas flow past pastures and cities, factories and suburbs. These waters have endured the wettest and driest of years, but experts say the rivers’ biggest stresses now come from the multitude of demands from industries, municipalities, agriculture, environment and wildlife. Learn More
Texas Lake Levels around the state are alarming. Check out this telling graphic. Link to more water related information at http://WatrNews.com. See a snapshot of lake levels around the state. Good material within the rest of website as well.
Because different parts of Texas have unique water needs and challenges, the Legislature has parceled the state into manageable areas. Region K is one of 16 regional water planning groups created to craft policy at a local level. If you live in the Colorado River Basin, your region is K. Region K is now taking public input regarding non-municipal water demands for long-term future planning. Show Austin that you are paying attention. Learn more and voice your opinion.
As stewards of more than 95 percent of the landscape in Texas, private landowners do have a huge role to play in our water future, and they are not getting much help. Texas loses rural and agricultural land faster than any other state, and this continued fragmentation of family lands is irrevocably impairing the function of our watersheds and aquifer recharge zones, as well as increasing nonpoint source pollution, which is runoff from agricultural fields, highways, parking lots and an increasingly paved-over countryside. Read full article by Andrew Sansom.
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.
More than miles separate the rice farms of the Texas coast and the Highland Lakes, where the outward march of Austin is marked by each new house, strip mall and marina. They are divided by how to share the water of the Colorado River, pitting agriculture against recreation in a state that values both. Read more from SA Express-News.
“The goal would be to provide water to a portion of Hays County where the General Land Office owns at least 4,500 acres. Bringing water to that land would make the property more valuable, increasing any asking price the land office sets for it,” Patterson said. Read full Statesman article here. “But isn’t desalination expensive and energy-intensive?” Learn more from StateImpact Texas.
On day five of the Aspen Ideas Festival, leading thinkers on water issues gathered on a panel to discuss the question, "Is Water the Next Global Security Threat?" “The key will be harnessing the political will to fix the problems and iniquities in our distribution system”. Read More
After the drought of record in the 1950s, the state responded by building a record number of new water projects. In fact, 65 percent of the reservoir capacity statewide was built between the 1960s and 1980s. As the fears of drought subsided, development of these projects also waned. Now, the Texas population is 25 million versus 8 million in the 1950s. Our industrial base is four times larger. The self-imposed moratorium on addressing our water demands needs to end. Read more from SA Express News.
Reclaimed water "is a way to stretch our existing supplies and potentially avoid expensive infrastructure projects," said Myron Hess, the manager of the Texas water program for the National Wildlife Federation. Putting potable water on grass is especially wasteful, environmentalists say. Read more from Texas Tribune.
“We not only have to consider the main Guadalupe River flowing from western Kerr Co. to the Gulf, but the Medina, San Antonio, Blanco, Comal and San Marcos Rivers to deal with all water uses and flows. And, these rivers are all spring flow originated which ties river flows directly into groundwater use in the headwaters region.” Mike Mecke explains his disappointment in TCEQ proposal that doesn’t follow stakeholder recommendations. Read the full article here.
A Texas process is in place to make collaborative regional decisions about the health of our water systems – in order to work, citizens must be involved. The San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) is one of the best regional examples of organized citizen activism. Proposed TCEQ management rules for the San Marcos River, (also the Colorado, Lavaca, San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers) do not reflect the conservative and balanced goals set forth by stakeholders. TCEQ is proposing more business as usual permitting and withdrawals. People must speak up by May 14th. Learn More
The conservation community is reeling with outrage and disbelief over the unreasonable rejection of reasonable recommendations aimed at balancing the needs of man and nature with rational protections for river flow. Read more from Caller.com.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) proposed a rule on Friday, April 13th that will determine the amount of water that must remain flowing in Central and South Central Texas rivers and into the region’s bays to sustain fish and wildlife populations. Unfortunately, this rule fails to include many of the protections recommended by the region’s stakeholder committees, leaving fish, oysters, whooping cranes and other wildlife high and dry. However, the good news is that there is still time to improve the rule by voicing support for stronger flow protections to the TCEQ Commissioners during the public comment period, which runs from now until May 14, 2012. Learn more from NWF.
The amount of water that should be left in the San Antonio, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins to maintain their health and the bays they feed will be based on proposed rules published Thursday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Texas Register. For the two legislatively appointed stakeholder groups that spent the past year and half working on compromises between the science-based environmental needs of the basins and the growing demand for water, the proposed rules are a disappointment, leaving less water in the rivers than they recommended, according to the chairs of the groups. The TCEQ representatives explained that they did not follow the recommendations of the stakeholders, which represented industrial, recreational, environmental and business interests, because they had balanced the needs of humans and nature. Read full SA Express-News article.
CTWC March Headlines: “No Lake Water for the Rice Fields”; “House Natural Resources Committee Explores Drought Options”; “46th TX Legislative Conference Looks at Drought and the TX Economy” “CTWC Sponsors Bass Fishing Tournament on the Highland Lakes April 21‐22”; and “Sen. Fraser to address the CTWC April 26 Meeting”. Read the full news blast here. More about the CTWC here.
Brian Richter, an international authority on river conservation and the director of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Freshwater Program, will be the keynote speaker for a statewide water conference being held by the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in Austin on Friday, April 27. Read More
Exactly how (the decision) will change the game is what everyone is trying to figure out. The case clearly established two things. First, that landowners legally own the groundwater underneath their land, and second, that landowners may be owed compensation if state or local regulations go too far in limiting the amount of groundwater landowners can pull. Beyond that things start to get a little murky. Read more from NPR.
The Lower Colorado River Authority’s decision to deprive downstream rice farmers of water – for the first time ever – was an especially dramatic example of the historic Texas drought’s continuing impact, even as unexpected winter rains have mitigated its severity somewhat. Read more from Texas Climate News.
For decades, the city drew most of its water from Lake Meredith...But Lake Meredith has fallen to historically low levels. “This year, for the first time in 40 years, it’s gone.” Read more from Texas Climate News.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released today The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond – an analysis of the effects of the severe 2011 drought in Texas, current and future water resources in the state and innovative solutions being used in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest to solve the water crisis. “Planning and managing water use will be of utmost importance for the state’s growth and prosperity,” Combs said. “While recent rains have helped put a dent in drought severity in different parts of the state, we’re not out of the woods. Texas is prone to cycles of drought which makes it important for residents, businesses and state and local governments to manage water use. Every Texan has a stake in water issues the state faces.” Read the Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond online.
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.
Fifty years ago, Texas experienced the drought of record — which simply means the worst drought we had ever seen. Following that drought, big thinkers made big decisions. They invested in infrastructure to expand existing surface water supplies, cultivate unexplored groundwater supplies, and store and conserve more water. The investments of the 1950s have gotten us this far, but won't carry us much further. Read more from Statesman.com.
After months of vetting by a diverse volunteer stakeholder committee made up of scientists, developer interests, landowners, residents and groundwater planning professionals Travis County Commissioners unanimously passed recommended new subdivision rules dealing with water use. “Already built or planned subdivisions and those with five or fewer lots that use surface water or have a rainwater collection system to back up groundwater would be exempt from the rules.” Read a brief from the Austin American Statesman that includes a link to the feature article from earlier this week here. Read Travis County staff summary to the Court here.
Is water too cheap? Perhaps the most obvious indication that it is, said Michael Webber, a University of Texas professor who heads a research group focused on water and energy, is how freely we use it. A growing population requires more water, which the state says can't come from one source. Addressing the state's water needs requires a range of solutions, most of which are expensive. Read more from Statesman.com.
LCRA is taking public comment on the proposed revision to the Water Management Plan for lakes Travis and Buchanan. The plan is posted at LCRA.org. Comments can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The LCRA Board will consider the plan at its February 22 meeting. Comments are due February 9. Learn More
The state's population is expected to nearly double by 2060, from 25.4 million people to 46.3 million, according to the state water plan. New management strategies and supply projects are needed to meet the state's residential, business and agricultural water needs. Failure to act could result in devastating business losses, lost jobs and reduced incomes, the state plan says; public health and economic development will suffer. More from Statesman.com.
Dwindling supplies of water and electricity are imperiling the state's economic future, a Texas Senate committee was told Tuesday. Read more from Statesman.com.
“The primary message of the 2012 State Water Plan is a simple one: In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises.” Learn more from TWDB. Read what Tom Mason, former LCRA General Manager has to say about the plan here.
Texas water authorities at every level are on alert. Last summer’s extremely hot, dry weather was a wake-up call. Now more than a dozen Texas towns are in danger of running out of water. Texas is in a water crisis. To make it official, the Texas Water Development Board December report says the state reservoirs are extremely low even after some autumn rain. Read more from CleanHouston.org.
Over the past 500 years, Central Texas has seen droughts far worse than the 1950s drought of record, according to a report commissioned by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and published Wednesday in the December issue of the Texas Water Journal. Researchers warn that makers of water policy should broaden their planning to factor in the possibility of droughts far worse than the spell that set the bar more than a half-century ago. Read more from Statesman.com.
Across the state, a growing number of suburban Texans are getting their water from large, private corporations owned by investors seeking to profit off the sale of an essential resource. State figures show private companies are seeking more price increases every year, and many are substantial. Read full Statesman.com article.
So, what happens when local residents and landowners don’t agree with the groundwater management plan handed down by a regional governing body that affects the future of a precious, local groundwater resource? The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has a process for such situations, and it’s now playing out with precision in the Wimberley Valley of Hays County. Read More
Environmental groups say that upcoming decisions by state water officials will determine the future of Central and South Central Texas rivers and bays as well as oysters, shrimp, whooping cranes, and other fish and wildlife – and economic industries dependent upon those resources. Read More
The water shortage in Texas can certainly use some prayers, and maybe even some rain dances. But it's going to take more than that — much more. That was the conclusion Saturday of panelists at a session called "The Coming Crisis Over Water." Read more from Go San Angelo.
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.
The Barton Spring Edwards Aquifer Conservation District issued an update this week about drought conditions, conservation and restrictions to expect. “The District asks all of its groundwater-using residents to continue their water conservation measures and be even better stewards of an increasingly scarce resource. A list of water conservation measures and more detailed information on aquifer conditions are available on District’s website at http://www.bseacd.org.” Read the Aquifer Bulletin here.
A prolonged stretch of exceptionally dry weather is causing the drought across Texas and the lower Colorado River basin to intensify."This has been the driest nine months in Texas history - the absolute driest,” LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said. “This is a serious situation, but it’s not dire. Water flowing into the Highland Lakes is down to a trickle in places. Rest assured LCRA is managing the region’s water supply to make it through this exceptional drought, and we are asking everyone to use water as efficiently as possible and reduce water use wherever they can.” Read full from Statesman.com article here.
Did you know the 2007 Texas State Water Plan estimates an 18% decrease in existing water supplies by 2060? Silt build-up in reservoirs is one two reasons given for the decline. The other is depleted groundwater supplies. Look to Denver, Colorado to see what it can cost to remove sediment from a lake. Denver Water is dredging the Strontia Springs Reservoir to remove at least 625,000 cubic yards of sediment. The cost is just over $30 million. Watch video
The investors and promoters behind what is known as the “Uvalde Pipeline” have tried for two legislative sessions to change the law governing the Edwards Aquifer Authority that prohibits the transport of Edwards Aquifer water out of Uvalde and Medina counties. Read full SA Express article here.
The Texas Water Resources Institute will be presenting a Texas Watershed Planning Short Course Nov. 14–18 in Bandera. “Well-considered holistic watershed protection plans involving as many stakeholders as possible in their development are becoming the widely accepted approach to protecting Texas surface waters,” said Kevin Wagner, an associate director at the institute and course leader. Read more here.
This week The Texas Tribune is featuring the five part series about the LCRA,Water Fight, about the devastating drought’s affect on the diverse interests in the Highland Lakes. “Three major power plants are using about 45 percent more water now versus two years ago.”
On the cliffs surrounding Central Texas’ large Lake Buchanan, a white ring extends some 13 feet above the shoreline, marking where the water reaches when the lake is full. At nearby Lake Travis, staircases that once led to the water’s edge now end well above it. These two lakes serve as key water sources for dozens of cities and hundreds of farmers, as well as for several power plants. Read more from Texas Tribune here.
As of Wednesday, the Llano River, which normally courses through town at 158 cubic feet per second this time of year, was flowing at 3.8 cubic feet per second — the slowest since 1953, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The river is the city's sole source of drinking water. Read full Statesman.com article here.
The Lower Colorado River Authority says there is enough water, even in dry times, for a proposed coal-fired power plant in Matagorda County — a finding that all but removes one of the last hurdles for the controversial project. Read full Houston Chronicle article here.
The Llano River was recently named one of the “Top Ten Waters to Watch” for 2011. This ranking will be discussed and celebrated at June 25th meeting of the South Llano Watershed Alliance. Read more
In one of its first major water contracts since a record drought left the basin stricken in 2009, the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority could decide on Wednesday to sell at least 8.3 billion gallons of water a year to a proposed coal-fired power plant near the Gulf coast. Read full Statesman.com 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 general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority announced his resignation Tuesday, setting off a potential battle over the future of the enormous Central Texas wholesale electricity and water supplier. Read full Texas Tribune article here.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on April 20 granted LCRA a permit to capture water from the Colorado River downstream of Austin during high flows and store it in yet-to-be-built reservoirs in the lower basin. Read more from LCRA here. Read more from the Austin American Statesman here.
In the latest sign of how dry the recent drought has been, Lower Colorado River Authority officials announced Wednesday that the flow of water from streams and creeks into the Colorado River over the past six months is worse than any similar period during the worst-ever drought. Read more from Statesman.com here.
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.
Senate committee takes up measure that would equate groundwater with private property. Read full Statesman.com article 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.
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.
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.
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
Read more here.
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.
Pay attention to this reminder of how drought and growing water demands have sapped the Colorado River (the other Colorado River) and its huge reservoirs. Click here
By Friday's deadline, 13 potential sellers responded to San Antonio Water System's request to help diversify its water sources. With the new approach, water sellers would compete to do the work — obtain pumping permits and pipeline easements, financing construction and, in some cases, work to change state law to allow for a pipeline to be built. Read full San Antonio Express article here.
Long reliant on one source of water for much of Central Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority will study alternate sources to meet future demands of the growing region, according to a plan the authority’s board approved Wednesday. Read more from Statesman.com here.
While the establishment of water districts to cover the entire state may be boiling over with some municipalities, a $21 billion shortfall in the state’s budgeting is likely to curtail any serious reform measures. Read full Lake Travis View 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.
Hoping to broker a massive deal that would send water from beneath counties east of Austin in a $400 million pipeline to San Antonio, the general manager of a Central Texas river authority has asked the region's chief private water developers to convene in Seguin on Friday. Read full Statesman.com article here.
A Texas Watershed Steward training program will be held from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Utopia Senior Center on Main Street in Uptopia. The program is sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in coordination with the Nueces River Authority. Details
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.
Riparian areas are important components of the landscape and water cycle. Please read Steve Nelle’s (NRCS) “Riparian Notes”, learn about taking care of your water resources. More information and details about upcoming workshops here.
The board of the San Antonio River Authority has come out against the state lowering water quality standards for any of the creeks and rivers it oversees. Other Hill Country river basins are looking at this issue carefully. Sign a petition supporting high standards and learn more here.
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.
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.
Ray, who has a weekend place on Lake Buchanan, waters his lawn by pumping water from the lake.” LCRA is asking property owners to pay up. Read more from Water Matters.
Rodney Smith's pitch to the Uvalde City Council this week was all about water, but the reception seemed more like the kind you'd see extended to a carnival hustler trying to engage the local citizenry in a game of Three-Card Monte. Read full San Antonio Express article here.
There was standing room only at the Uvalde City Council meeting as citizens crowded into council chambers to hear about the Uvalde Water Project pipeline. Southwest Texas Water Resources wants to construct a 67-mile pipeline from Uvalde County to San Antonio to transport Edwards Aquifer water. City Council says “no”. Read more here.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine’s ninth annual water issue is on the news stand now and is a useful resource to engage readers with current water issues that affect their lives. The full text of the issue is also available on the magazine’s website.
Treated sewage effluent that the City of Fredericksburg contracted in 2006 to sell to Boot Ranch is finally available to the troubled golf resort. Read full San Antonio Express article here. Read more from Fredericksburg Standard here.
"Groundwater is covered by an archaic law that could leave use high and dry." Read the full article by Nick Patoski, Texas Observer here.
The Center for Watershed Protection has been collaborating with the US Geological Survey's Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems research group to help interpret and disseminate the study results to local watershed managers and planners so they can base land use and management decisions on the best available science. Read more.
What is the economic loss to Wimberley if water flow or quality declines in Cypress Creek? What is a CCN? Rainwater harvesting and water conservation tips…this newsletter is a must read for everyone in Hays County and those in the Hill Country Region who would like to learn about the importance of watershed based planning. Click here for more.
EDF hosts “Texas Water Solutions” an informative blog for citizen participation in state water planning processes. A torrent of draft regional water plans have flooded the state this spring, as a part of the state’s regional water planning process. Public hearings and public comment periods on these draft plans present critical opportunities for Texans to let planners know their opinions about how best to meet the future water needs of people and the environment in your area. Visit the blog for more information.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may decide by the end of the year whether 11 species of mussels are endangered. If the answer is yes, the state's river authorities might have to recalculate how much water they can distribute to industry, farmers and growing cities and still leave enough in Texas' already stressed rivers to keep mussels healthy. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Last year State Comptroller Susan Combs urged lawmakers to take action to avoid a major water shortage in the wake of two decades of explosive population growth. Read full Amarillo Globe News article here.
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens wants a court to derail state approval of a water management plan that he claims would take $10 million off the value of his groundwater rights in the Texas Panhandle. Read full Statesman.com article here.
In a move that it says will save money and is a practical strategy for monitoring the state's waterways, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has proposed loosening its water quality standards. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Texas Water Matters is an outstanding resource on all things related to water planning in Texas. The site is full of current information on all water planning processes. Recently the project added new features to their website illustrating the “interconnectivity” of surface and ground water supplies. Check out the Living Waters Project and specifically the latest material on interconnectivity here.
Perhaps the timing isn’t best (the drought has lifted and attention has drifted elsewhere) but the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club released a report this week on water conservation efforts in nineteen Texas cities. As the two groups note, the “quality and extent of water conservation programs in Texas’ cities vary considerably.” Read full Texas Observer article here.
The National Wildlife Federation and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club released a joint report today recommending seven common-sense water conservation measures. The report reviews 19 cities around the state to see where these measures are in place and concludes that, with some exceptions, most of the cities surveyed are not doing enough to make the most efficient use of existing water supplies. Read more...
The board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority on Tuesday moved toward limiting development over the entire recharge zone of the aquifer from Hays to Uvalde counties. Controlling the amount of impervious cover, or the square footage of parking lots and roofs, on top of the recharge zone is a step the authority has contemplated since 2003 to protect water quality. Read full SA Express article here.
Now is the time to let LCRA know your ideas for managing the water in the Highland Lakes. Meetings will be held in Austin, Burnet and El Campo, you can also provide input in writing or take an online survey. Learn more...
The state environmental office Wednesday denied a request to repeal a ban on the discharge of treated wastewater into the Highland Lakes, which serve as the prime recreation and water supply reservoirs in Central Texas. The decision, made at a meeting of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, ends a public policy discussion that boiled down to water quality versus water quantity. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Industrial facilities dumped 13 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Texas’ waterways in 2007, according to a report released today by Environment Texas: Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act. The report also finds that toxic chemicals were discharged in 1,900 waterways across all 50 states. The information detailed in this report was compiled from the Environmental Protection Agency’s database on toxic release inventories. Read full media release 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.
The spring-fed Cypress Creek and surrounding Hill Country landscape is a unique and cherished natural system located in and around Wimberley, Texas. Learn about what’s being done to protect this resource, check out the latest Cypress Creek Project newsletter 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.
On May 12th, about three-dozen Llano County neighbors and their attorneys and consultants made the trip to Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters to discuss a proposed permit to remove sand and gravel from the Llano River. Joining them in Austin were several interested persons who offered insight into how a decision on this permit could shape state policy towards the management of rivers. Read full Llano News article here.
Sixty feet below the shimmering surface of Jacob’s Well, an artesian spring that for thousands of years has pulsed iridescent blue-green water from the Trinity Aquifer to the surface, a sophisticated instrument measures the spring’s vital signs. The results are beamed almost instantaneously to the Internet. These days the gauge detects only the thinnest of pulses. Read the full Texas Observer article here.
"In a called meeting following Monday’s Presidents’ Day holiday, the Llano City Council on Tuesday heard a report from local hydrologist Tyson Broad on how the current drought will continue to adversely affect the city’s water supply unless we receive more rain," writes Dale Fry for the Bandera Bulletin. "Citing current stream flow figures, Broad expressed concern for the future of Llano’s water supply and recommended that the city begin now to determine at what point it should take steps to conserve its supply of the precious liquid." Read the full Bulletin story here.
"The River Systems Institute has prepared an overview of drought conditions in Central Texas from several sources. In summary, it appears difficult to compare the current situation to the 50s because of the duration of the 50s drought, and Central Texas did have rain in 2007. But although on a shorter time frame, this drought has been more severe than even portions of the 50s drought, especially in the Central Texas." Read the full summary from the River Systems Institute at TSU here.
"The Colorado River may be drying up as a potential source of drinking water for San Antonio," writes Jerry Needham for the San Antonio Express-News. "The San Antonio Water System is spending millions of dollars looking into bringing Colorado River water to the Alamo City, but scientific studies, and now maybe policy decisions by the board that oversees the river, continue to shrink the amount of water available and cause the estimated costs to skyrocket." Read the full Express-News story here.
"Although urban areas take just three percent of U.S. land, their loss of water-retaining soil and vegetation -- and their polluted runoff from impervious surfaces, lawns, vehicles, industries, and construction sites -- have harmed all urban streams, and, on a larger scale, caused most impairment of 13 percent of rivers, 18 percent of lakes, and 32 percent of estuaries, concludes the National Research Council's Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contribution to Water Pollution," Smart Growth News reports. Read the full story here.
HCA is partnering with Schreiner University, Texas Tech University and Texas Public Radio to present a series of four free lectures and forums designed to engage Central Texans in the water and growth issues of our area. Read about the Texas Water Symposia here, and read the full press release for the event here.
"Environmental Defense Fund's South Llano River Project was initiated in early 2008 to begin discussions with local and regional stakeholders on the interest and feasibility of developing a plan of action to ensure the long-term protection of this rich and unique resource," writes Texas Water Matters. "Work will initially focus on the South Llano River, however there is potential for eventually widening the project area to include the greater Llano River watershed." Join the project on November 15 in Junction and read the details and pre-register to attend here.
"Jacob's Well, the famous natural spring known to be the longest underwater cave in Texas, stopped flowing for the second time in recorded history on the evening of October 20th," reports the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in a press release. "Jacob's Well has been hovering at between one and two cubic feet per second for the past several months. Jacob's Well is the barometer for the health of the aquifer; the well ceasing to flow at this time is a major environmental event, as it stopped for the first time in recorded history in the summer of 2000." Read more after the jump.
"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.
"The tendency of humans to build, live and play in and near attractive riparian areas has resulted in stream banks having been stripped of vegetation, paved, compacted and littered with all kinds of trash," writes Jan Wrede, Director of Education at Cibolo Nature Center. "These highly impaired riparian zones now cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to restore...Protecting the Cibolo Creek from degradation and preserving its natural good health is part of our generation's mandate to provide for sustainable living in this wonderful town." Read more after the jump.
The Texas Legislature is gearing up for another session and these lawmakers are working on changes to Texas Water Laws. New topics include "dam safety, new electric generation sources and technologies, mercury and arsenic emissions, water and energy needs and challenges, water salinity technology, monitoring implementation of HB 1763 as it relates to Groundwater Management Areas, related groundwater issues in areas without a groundwater conservation district, evaluation of increasing caps on export fees, and review of the powers of state river authorities," according to an article in Livestock Weekly. Read their full story after the jump.
"Drought and an agreement to release water to help keep downstream trout alive have left Canyon Lake just inches above the lowest level ever reached after the reservoir was first filled in 1968," writes Roger Croteau for the San Antonio Express-News. "Canyon Lake's normal level is 909 feet above mean sea level, and its historic low was 899.7 feet in December 1984. On Monday the lake, which has been dropping about an inch a day, stood at 900.11 feet."'
Read the full Express-News story here.
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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
March 26-29 in Brackettville - Advanced Women of the Land Workshop by TWA - Details
March 27-28 in Hunt - "Introduction to Holistic Management and Ecosystem Function" - Part one in HMI's Mitigating Drought with Holistic Management Workshop Series - Details
March 28 in Austin - Native Plant Society Spring Symposium at the Wildflower Center - Details
March 28 in Stonewall – 8th Annual LBJ 100 Bike Tour - Details
March 29 in Johnson City - "Food, Health and the Environment: Why Eating Right Can Save You and the Earth," presented by Ecologist, Dr. G. David Tilman - 4:30 pm at the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. Details
April 1 in San Antonio - Conversations on Water, "San Antonio's Water Future: Managing Supply and Growth" - Details
April 1 in Floresville - Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Upper San Antonio River Watershed - Details
April 1 in Austin - "Creating Vibrant Green Cities: Lessons from Seoul South Korea and San Marcos," part of the Imagine Austin Speaker Series - Details
April 2 in San Antonio - The Audubon Society's Birds and Climate Change Report: 314 Species on the Brink - Details
April 4 in Boerne - 25th Annual Cibolo Nature Center Mostly Native Plant Sale (members only pre-sale April 3 from 5-7pm) - Details
April 4 in San Antonio - Rain Barrel Workshop - Details
April 7-9 in Dallas - Rainwater University 2015 by Texas A&M AgriLife - Who should attend: Texas Flood Plain Managers, Landscape Professionals, Engineers, Architects, Homeowners, Business Owners, Builders, School Districts, City, State and Federal Personnel - Details
April 9 in Fredericksburg- Water Conservation Expo, co-hosted by HCA. Details
April 9 - Six-county wildlife program and tour by Texas Agri-Life Extention - Participating counties: Mason, Menard, McCulloch, Llano, Gillespie & Kimble - Details
April 18 in Junction - Oasis Pipeline Wildfire Recovery Workshop - Details
April 22 in Jourdanton - Agri-Land Workshop - Presentations by HCA's Sky Jones Lewey, Rainwater Harvesting Expert John Kight and more - Details
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
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