In honor of Craig Smith’s tireless efforts to help initiate the Barton Springs Zone Regional Water Quality Protection Plan and lead the working group, the City of Austin has recognized the achievement that provided a framework for local governments to adopt standards premised on the belief that water quality is vital to every person, by appointing March 31st as Craig Smith Day. Congratulations Craig!
In December 2002, Hays County Judge Jim Powers and Austin City Council Member Daryl Slusher convened a summit to discuss the impacts that rapid growth in northern Hays County and southwest Travis County was having on water quality in the Barton Creek Watershed. This initial effort grew into a larger regional stakeholder process established to address the impacts of development on surface and ground water resources within the recharge and contributing zones of the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
Representatives from Dripping Springs, Austin, Buda, Kyle, Rollingwood, Sunset Valley, Bee Cave, Hays County, Travis County, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District participated in this pioneering, self-initiated regional planning effort. These governmental entities determined a common need to develop regional approaches to water quality protection to achieve the critical goal of “preserving the most valuable assets of this region—the pristine water and natural physical features from which they flow.”
These discussions culminated in June 2005 with the completion and adoption of the Barton Springs Zone Regional Water Quality Protection Plan, whose stated goal is “to maintain or enhance the existing water quality of the groundwater and surface water within the study area. This goal is premised on the belief that water quality is vital to every person, and that protection of water quality is an individual as well as a governmental responsibility.” This regional plan was a landmark achievement that provided a framework for local governments to adopt water quality standards, recognizing that we all have unique roles to play in achieving the level of water quality protection specified in the plan and mutually agreed upon by the participants. As stated by the plan itself:
“The long-standing public interest in preserving water quality in this area of Texas, coupled with unprecedented population growth, will require continued leadership as we move toward meaningful regional water quality protections.”
At that time, Craig Smith played a leading role in coordinating this regional planning effort as the Executive Committee representative for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. While Craig’s continued service since 1998 as the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Director for Precinct 5 is deserving of recognition itself, today we recognize Craig’s continued individual commitment to implementing the best management practices outlined in the regional plan.
Over the past 10 years, Craig has worked tirelessly to keep the plan alive and relevant by convening bimonthly meetings of the Barton Springs Zone Regional Water Quality Protection Plan working group. On lunch breaks from his full-time job as an Assistant Travis County Attorney (and when he is not swimming at Barton Springs), Craig brings together the local agencies involved in water quality issues within the Barton Springs Zone and does a fantastic job as notetaker and meeting facilitator. These meetings provide a unique opportunity for staff from the various governmental entities to come together in open discussion to share news on key events, and continue the collaborative water quality protection effort initiated in 2005. His meeting summaries over the years serve as chronicle of seminal events affecting the Barton Springs Zone. Craig even continues to foster broader participation in the plan, moving the meetings to Wimberley and Dripping Springs as needed to encourage and facilitate participation across the region.
Watersheds and aquifers do not recognize political boundaries, and neither has Craig in his efforts and continued leadership to promote regional collaboration in protecting the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs.