Austin’s aging water pipes leaked 6 billion gallons in a year

Austin’s aging water pipes leaked 6 billion gallons in a year

Investigative Summary: KXAN investigated Austin’s water loss, enough to fill Lady Bird Lake twice, in 2015. Now, the city is losing more water through leaks and pipes, more than six billion gallons in 2018 alone. KXAN investigator Kevin Clark questioned Austin Water’s Director about the losses, while City Council’s new Water Oversight Committee also works to address the losses. Kristine Poland says she woke up one morning in late-September to find her street flooded. A 12-inch water line blew along…

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ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

The Urban Land Institute released a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) report regarding land use along the San Marcos River in August. The City of San Marcos, the Greater San Marcos Partnership and Texas State University partnered with the Austin District Council of Urban Land Institute in Fall 2018 to examine land use along the San Marcos River. According to the report, “the Technical Assistance Panel offers recommendations for ways to unlock economic potential by making the river more connected to…

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Trinity Aquifer sustainable yield study receives strong support

Trinity Aquifer sustainable yield study receives strong support

On Oct. 22, Hays County approved an interlocal agreement that will involve installation of two groundwater monitor wells near Jacob’s Well and sampling of groundwater in the vicinity of Jacob’s Well. On Oct. 1, Travis County approved the continuation of groundwater study for southwest Travis County. Recent strong support from Hays and Travis Counties provides funding that will help fill critical data gaps for the Trinity Aquifer Sustainable Yield Study. The sustainable yield of an aquifer is the amount of…

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Study shows declining water levels in Trinity aquifer; local leaders urge creation of groundwater conservation district

Study shows declining water levels in Trinity aquifer; local leaders urge creation of groundwater conservation district

Homestead resident John Colman’s nearly 1.5-acre property near Bee Cave runs on well water and has since he and his wife brought the property in 2010. The well system is used for everyday uses including drinking water, washing, topping off the pool and irrigation. Last year, after the land’s original well met the end of its life, the Colmans had to install a new well on the property, and what he learned in the process about the importance of groundwater…

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Economic valuation of groundwater in Texas

Economic valuation of groundwater in Texas

Groundwater is a strategic economic asset, and recent Texas Supreme Court decisions have strengthened private ownership rights in groundwater. Despite the economic and political stakes, debate on how to actually value groundwater has been sparse. In response, this article sets forth seven methods of economically valuing groundwater in Texas and uses case studies and hypotheticals informed by real data to assess the valuation techniques’ strengths and weaknesses under a range of conditions… Read more from the Texas Water Journal  

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Replacing Mother Nature Can Be Expensive

Replacing Mother Nature Can Be Expensive

“We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude,” Dr. Tom Arsuffi stressed near the beginning of the most recent Texas Water Symposium. The panel discussion, moderated by Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, also brought together District 53 Rep. Andy Murr and Texas A&M researcher Hughes Simpson to discuss the preservation of natural assets. “We’re losing those free things that nature provides us,” Arsuffi continued, referring to everything from photosynthesis to healthy soils…

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Sprawl Costs Americans $107 Billion a Year, Says Study

Sprawl Costs Americans $107 Billion a Year, Says Study

Urban sprawl isn’t a new phenomenon. But new analysis from City Observatory has finally quantified the cost of building cities that make us travel farther between the places where we live, work, and play. They call it the “Sprawl Tax.” Based on numbers from a 2015 Brookings report, the new study found that commuters in the country’s 50 largest metro areas pay an additional $107 billion a year in travel costs and time navigating the sprawl between work and home—at…

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How much is the urban forest of Austin worth? More than you might think

How much is the urban forest of Austin worth? More than you might think

Trees within the city limits of Austin, Texas contribute nearly $34 million in ecosystem services to the community annually, according to a new report by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). From May to October 2014, researchers from the Texas A&M Forest Service collected data on characteristics like the size, species, and health of trees found on 206 one-sixth-acre plots scattered throughout Austin. They followed the protocols of the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis program, which has collected information about the…

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The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

In strictly economic terms, sprawl is inefficient. Spread people out, and it takes them longer to drive where they need to go, and it costs them more in gas money to get there. Disperse a few people over a lot of land, and that land is used inefficiently, too. Then give those people roads and sewers — you’d need a lot more of both to serve 20 households living over a square mile than 20 on the same block. And…

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The Value of a Healthy Hill Country

In a recent piece in the Upper Llano River Watershed Protection Plan Newsletter, Dr. Tom Arsuffi explores the value of a healthy, functioning Hill Country ecosystem. In a Texas that is increasingly urbanizing, how do we ensure that our urban centers properly value responsible land management that produces the clean water, resilient wildlife habitat, fresh air and healthy food resources we all need? A related article from High Country News explores the nuances of ecosystem services. It’s not as simple…

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