City reaches milestone for cave site restoration

City reaches milestone for cave site restoration

City staff members have completed a draft land management plan to protect the city’s natural resources at the William H. Russell Karst Preserve, the 191-acre Southwest Austin site previously known as the Blowing Sink Research Management Area. The natural features of the land, which was formerly used as a livestock ranch, have been subject to decades of abuse, posing a threat to the Edwards Aquifer as well as several vulnerable wildlife species. Serving as a formal agreement among Austin Water, the Parks…

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The next megadrought in the American Southwest may be right around the corner

The next megadrought in the American Southwest may be right around the corner

IF THE PLANET CONTINUES TO WARM AT CURRENT RATES, SCIENTISTS PROJECT THE LIKELIHOOD OF A MEGADROUGHT IN THE SOUTHWEST WILL INCREASE TO ABOVE 70 PERCENT. WE’RE SIMPLY NOT PREPARED. “This is absolutely abysmal,” David Gutzler said in March 2018, speaking to an auditorium full of US and Mexican water engineers and hydrologists in El Paso, Texas. He was talking about the state of the snow in Colorado at the time, the snow that would melt and feed the Rio Grande…

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One Water in action: Travis County Courthouse

One Water in action: Travis County Courthouse

This summer, Travis County broke ground on the new Civil and Family Court Building. The 435,000 square foot facility is located at 1700 Guadalupe Street and sits on 1.46-acres.  It is located in the northern part of downtown which is rapidly being re-developed. Travis County leadership realized early that construction of this new facility was a unique opportunity to deploy One Water strategies for the good of the community.  Commissioner Brigid Shea worked closely with the City of Austin’s Water…

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Voters should confirm groundwater district in November

Voters should confirm groundwater district in November

I’ve been saying for a long time that we need a groundwater conservation district in western Travis County, and now we can confirm our very own this November. Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District covers 200 square miles of southwest Travis County south of the Colorado River and west of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), including Oak Hill, Bee Cave, Lakeway and parts of West Lake Hills. After years in the making, it was created during the 2017 legislative session with…

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Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways

Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways

Texas Living Waters is an active advocate for the One Water approach because it offers tremendous opportunities for improving how water is managed. Even so, we are concerned that the available One Water implementation frameworks are not providing adequate guidance or methodologies for ensuring that implementation of One Water principles will result in actual on-the-ground benefits in achieving “healthy waterways,” which is a key component of the One Water approach. There often seems to be an assumption that implementing a One Water…

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A world rocked: Communities clamor for regulation as Texas mining industry explodes

A world rocked: Communities clamor for regulation as Texas mining industry explodes

Kevin Baum gazes out from his second-floor porch across his 12-acre slice of Texas Hill Country heaven. On a cloudy day, he points past live oak trees and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers to Horseshoe Bay 20 miles to the south. When it’s clear, he says, he sees 30 miles farther, past rolling hills in the distance to the edges of Johnson City. Baum retired in 2005 after more than two decades with the Austin Fire Department, rising from entry-level firefighter…

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Texas environmental commission denies waste permit after residents rally against new facility

Texas environmental commission denies waste permit after residents rally against new facility

Colorado County officials on Wednesday won the latest round of a five-year fight to prevent a waste processing near the Colorado River that they say would contaminate ground and surface water for thousands of rural Texans. During a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hearing, the state denied a permit request by Altair Disposal Services to construct a landfill that would take waste from an incineration facility near Houston to Colorado County, which sits about halfway between Houston and Austin, and…

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Building a water-resilient future for all Texans

Building a water-resilient future for all Texans

After heavy rains last winter and early this summer, Texas is seeing a rapid return to hot, bone-dry conditions. While we watch our lawns brown and wait for the rains to return, the age-old question echoes again, “Does fast-growing Texas, which is adding 1,000 new residents every day, have enough water to weather future prolonged droughts?” Without more efficient water practices and broader uptake of water reuse technologies, the answer could well be, ’No.″ And that could mean a ruinous…

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What’s porous paving? All new lots in New Orleans must have in city’s fight with water woes

What’s porous paving? All new lots in New Orleans must have in city’s fight with water woes

New Orleans is a city often inundated by water and, just as often, a city frustrated in its attempts to deal with it. Now, joining a movement that supporters say will help mitigate flooding and soil subsidence, the City Council has decided that all new commercial parking surfaces in New Orleans must be porous. The rules unanimously approved by the council last week require businesses to use pervious paving — which lets rainwater flow through it, to be absorbed by the…

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Underground lakes part of major new discoveries at Natural Bridge Caverns

Underground lakes part of major new discoveries at Natural Bridge Caverns

A 19-hour trip deep into the caves at Natural Bridge Caverns in July led to some major new discoveries, including underground lakes and massive rooms. Brad Wuest and Travis Wuest, who own and operate Natural Bridge Caverns, were joined by Bill Steele on their journey into the uncharted portions of the cave. Travertine Passage is one of the new areas the team discovered during their July trip. “I was descending deeper than anticipated into large, never before seen passage. I could…

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