Celebrating the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan

Celebrating the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan

On May 6, local biologists will lead guided hikes through the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the program that created the project—the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan. In 1996, Travis County became the first area in the U.S. to offer developers a streamlined method to build in areas housing endangered species habitats, BCCP Coordinating Committee Secretary Sherri Kuhl said. In 2016, 739 areas or entities are participating in the program, said Adam Zerrenner, field supervisor for…

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How Austin-San Antonio commuter rail backers plan to get back on track

How Austin-San Antonio commuter rail backers plan to get back on track

  • April 20, 2016
  • News

Reports of the death of commuter rail between Austin and San Antonio have been greatly exaggerated, according to officials with the Lone Star Rail District. At a meeting Friday in San Marcos, the Lone Star Rail board unveiled new options for a potential route and approved a measure moving forward with a needed environmental impact study. The meeting, held in a classic car museum, attracted about 30 people. Political and business leaders from Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio were…

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The College That Ate a City

The College That Ate a City

  • April 20, 2016
  • News

“San Marcos, population 58,000, was listed as the fastest-growing city in America according to 2014 census data. The growth is mostly thanks to an expanding Texas State University — the largest employer and largest property owner in the city. With the anchor institution showing no signs of slowing down and the invasion of national developers that have seized on a growing real estate opportunity to provide housing for an increasing number of college students, city residents find themselves much more…

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SAWS: Banks Not Cooperating On Renegotiating Vista Ridge Loan

By mid-week the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) expects to know whether it will be able to easily move ownership of the Vista Ridge pipeline to a different company. Because of financial problems current owner Abengoa has agreed to sell 80-percent of the water project to Garney Construction, but an outstanding loan complicates matters, and has forced SAWS to consider other options. As the contract manager for the 142-mile pipeline, Abengoa Vista Ridge took out a $120 million loan to…

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Spicewood eyes municipal status

Spicewood eyes municipal status

According to Burnet County Judge James Oakley, Spicewood is a part of “God’s country.” The native Central Texan, who has lived in the Spicewood area for more than two decades, said he has witnessed the unincorporated area’s expansion that has replaced fishing cabins with new homes. He said that despite its residents’ failed attempt to incorporate into a city or village about 15 years ago, Spicewood will eventually become a municipality. “To me, it’s just a matter of time as…

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Why dark skies matter

Why dark skies matter

  • April 13, 2016
  • News

Light pollution not only effects our ability to see the stars at night, but studies show it can also have negative effects our health, wildlife and the economy. This article from MNN discusses the effects of light pollution and what communities around the world, including right here in Dripping Springs, are doing to protect against it. Learn more about protecting our night skies here.

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The Source: More Questions In SAWS Vista Ridge Deal

Last night, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) held the first of four public meeting on the changes to the 142 -mile Vista Ridge Pipeline. The $3.4 billion deal, which covers 50,000 acre feet of water per year for 30 years, will have a change in ownership. Spanish Conglomerate Abengoa, struggling to pay its debts, had to sell 80 percent of its position in the deal. Garney Construction, which has worked with SAWS on several projects, has been selected as the company…

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One Vista Ridge Loan Application Approved; A Second Denied

In 2013 voters approved the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, commonly referred to as SWIFT.  The fund provides highly sought-after low-interest loans for building water projects. Qualifying for a SWIFT loan can save utilities and taxpayers a lot of money. For example, a $140 million SWIFT loan approved for Tarrant County last year is expected to save rate payers there more than $39 million over the cost of a traditional market loan. The Texas Water Development Board recently considered…

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Vista Ridge Pipeline Opponents Win Small Victory

Opponents of the city of San Antonio’s Vista Ridge water supply project scored a minor win this week when Texas Water Development Board staff announced the 142-mile pipeline was ineligible to seek an $885 million low-interest construction loan. Abengoa Vista Ridge, the Spanish subsidiary company that San Antonio’s water utility contracted with in 2014 to build the pipeline, had agreed to finance construction and assume all financial risk if the project fell through. San Antonio Water System officials repeatedly cited…

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Vista Ridge Changes Before Council

The San Antonio City Council awaits details from SAWS on the changes with the Vista Ridge Project. SAWS officials are expected to detail the shift in project control from troubled Abengoa to Garney Construction. “I need to be assured that the contract that was entered into with Abengoa remains the same,” Councilman Ron Nirenberg told KTSA News. He’s talking about risk “that in fact we are still protecting the San Antonio taxpayer.” Councilman Mike Gallagher wants to make sure continuity exists……

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