In win for Harvey victims, federal judge finds government liable for reservoir flooding

In win for Harvey victims, federal judge finds government liable for reservoir flooding

During Hurricane Harvey, thousands of properties behind two federally owned reservoirs flooded. On Tuesday, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled that the government was liable for the flooding and that property owners are eligible for damages. Houston’s natural vulnerability to flooding — worsened by development that officials left unchecked for decades — was exposed like never before in 2017, when Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and turned into a tropical storm that lingered for days over America’s fourth-largest…

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Report urges buying floodplain properties to head off $3 billion bill by 2050

Report urges buying floodplain properties to head off $3 billion bill by 2050

It would be less expensive for the government to buy and preserve undeveloped land that lies in Houston’s floodplains than it would be to let development occur and face a potentially devastating bill if those properties flood, according to a new study. Allowing development on these sites could expose Harris County to as much as $3 billion in damages by 2050, according the report, published in the journal Nature Sustainability. The magnitude of potential damages far outstrips the $400 million…

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Austin water use at record low

Austin water use at record low

Water use per person in Austin has fallen to the lowest point since the city began keeping records more than two decades ago. The historic low continues a trend in water usage in the aftermath of drought conditions spanning from 2008 to 2016 that strained Central Texas’ water systems. Austin Water officials tallied 2019 water use, including commercial customers, at 120 gallons per person per day. The water utility says it serves more than 1 million people in the Austin…

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Fight against Vulcan goes on

Fight against Vulcan goes on

As 2019 draws to a close, Preserve Our Hill Country Environment and Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry are so grateful to all our supporters and volunteers in the ongoing battle against the huge, 1500-acre quarry planned by Vulcan Construction Materials between New Braunfels and Bulverde. Over the past two years, with your help, our team has achieved many key accomplishments. Vulcan has not started construction or operation of the proposed quarry. We organized Comal County citizens to request a public meeting…

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Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country. But the reserve is facing fierce opposition from many locals because to build it, the organization is slowly purchasing ranches from willing sellers, phasing out the cows and replacing them with wild bison. Those private properties are then stitched together with vast tracts of neighboring public lands to create one giant, rewilded prairie.…

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Hill Country’s Honey Creek no longer set to receive treated sewage

Hill Country’s Honey Creek no longer set to receive treated sewage

A developer planning a subdivision upstream of an ecologically sensitive Hill Country creek has changed his plans to avoid filling the creek with treated wastewater. The controversial proposed wastewater treatment plant north of San Antonio is tied to a 2,347-unit subdivision planned for what is now Honey Creek Ranch off State Highway 46 in Comal County. Ronald and Terry Urbanczyk, who also run Urban Concrete Contractors in San Antonio, own the property. The Urbanczyks also control Silesia Properties, the company…

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Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Yards in Austin, Tex., look like most across the country: sprawling expanses of short, uniform grass. But when intense Texas droughts set in, dead brown patches deface the Kelly green monochrome. Instead of repeatedly replanting these patches with the typical sod, the homeowner association of one Austin neighborhood, Travis Country, offers another option: filling in the brown spots with less-thirsty native species. As Cynthia Wilcox, the association’s grounds committee chair, puts it: “When your grass gets big dead spots, stop…

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Texas regulators want stiffer penalties for company whose Port Neches plant exploded

Texas regulators want stiffer penalties for company whose Port Neches plant exploded

In a surprising vote, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rejected a staff-proposed penalty against TPC Group’s Port Neches chemical plant — which was rocked by explosions last month — for a slew of 2018 pollution violations and asked that they be referred to the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Environmental and watchdog groups have long criticized the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for taking it too easy on polluters — and the TCEQ has often countered that its job is…

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IDA Advocate helps teens open eyes to light pollution in Chicago

IDA Advocate helps teens open eyes to light pollution in Chicago

Each month the International Dark-Sky Association features an IDA Advocate from the worldwide network of volunteers who are working to protect the night. This month we’re highlighting the work of IDA Delegate, Rosalía Lugo.  Self-described as “a true believer in the potential of working-class youth of color,” IDA Delegate Rosalía Lugo works as the teen programs manager at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. With a master’s in education policy, organization, and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,…

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Val Verde County white-tailed deer tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

Val Verde County white-tailed deer tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

  • December 20, 2019
  • News

AUSTIN – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in a free-ranging, 5 ½ year-old white-tailed doe between Del Rio and Amistad Reservoir, making it the first confirmed case of the disease in Val Verde County. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are implementing a containment strategy designed to limit the spread of CWD from the affected area and better understand the distribution and prevalence of the disease. “Because eradication is thought to…

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