New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

The Nature Conservancy has acquired a conservation easement on 1,640 acres owned by landowner Gary Krause, preserving its unique natural features for future generations, according to a news release. The easement was funded in part by the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, overseen by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Krause donated part of the value of the easement as a…

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Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Since 2000, San Antonians have voted every five years to dedicate a portion of our sales taxes to the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program, or EAPP. Residents are rightfully proud of a program recognized internationally as an elegant solution to protecting our primary source of water. Absent adequate regulation to protect the quality of San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer water supply, we have opted to pay those who own land in the Edwards watershed for the ecological services they provide. Perhaps we…

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As drought persists, Texas ranchers take stock

As drought persists, Texas ranchers take stock

Cattle ranchers in the Texas Hill Country are facing a tough decision after months of drought. “You have to decide where’s your quitting point in terms of buying feed, buying hay and feeding your animals,” says Jamie Osbourn, an agent with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension office in Llano County. Llano is one of a handful of counties in the state experiencing severe drought. Gregg County is another, and other East Texas counties also are suffering. Federal data showed most…

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San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

A plan to improve public transit by rerouting money from a popular program aimed at protecting the Edwards Aquifer has hit rough waters. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff want to redirect $40 million a year from a 1/8-cent sales tax that pays for aquifer protection, linear parks and creekways to VIA Metropolitan Transit for better bus service and other transit initiatives. San Antonio voters would have the final say, because they have to decide whether to…

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Smart home experiment may change how we conserve water, build and live

Smart home experiment may change how we conserve water, build and live

On the banks of the Llano River, just south of Junction, Texas, amongst the cactus and mesquite trees sits a house that researchers hope will change the face of conservation. Atmospheric scientist Brian Ancell walked along the edge of this mesquite field. He walked past a small wind turbine, past a beige double wide prefabricated home with a solar array and around the corner to a central piece of his experiment: a 10,000 gallon water tank filled with rainwater. “This…

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TCEQ adopts new wastewater rules

TCEQ adopts new wastewater rules

In December, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted new rules for the disposal of treated wastewater effluent by land application. In 2016, Austin petitioned the TCEQ to consider rule changes that would encourage beneficial use of treated wastewater effluent for non-potable purposes, such as irrigation of parks and medians or for toilet flushing within buildings. Beneficial reuse of wastewater effluent, which is often referred to as “reclaimed water,” helps protect water quality while achieving water conservation. It is…

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Water crisis puts Oregon community at a crossroads

Water crisis puts Oregon community at a crossroads

In a desert far from any city, farmers use groundwater to grow lush green hay. The hay fattens livestock all over the world. But there’s a big problem: The water is drying up. Now scientists warn it will take thousands of years for an aquifer in southeastern Oregon to recover, while residents there are already hurting. At Marjorie and John Thelen’s house, the well ran dry in 2015. “We’re not ranchers. We’re not growing hay. We’re just retired in the…

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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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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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BSEACD denies motion for rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC Permit

BSEACD denies motion for rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC Permit

This evening at its Regular Meeting, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) Board of Directors denied the request from the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Alliance (TESPA) for a rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC permit. Blayne Stansberry, Director and President of the Board, stated that the primary reason the Board denied this request was that TESPA did not present any new information that would warrant another hearing on the matter. She further stated that the District held a 5-hour…

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