News

Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Cypress Creek WatershedApril 30, 2015 11:11
May 19, 2015
8 am - 4:00 pmVFW Hall
401 Jacobs Well Rd.
Wimberley, TX 78676 (map)Flyer
AgendaPlease RSVP now and share with others who may be interested. This workshop is being co-hosted by the City of Wimberley, the City of Woodcreek, and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. The training will focus on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones and the benefits and direct impacts from healthy riparian zones...

May 19, 2015
8 am - 4:00 pm

VFW Hall
401 Jacobs Well Rd.
Wimberley, TX 78676 (map)

Flyer
Agenda

Please RSVP now and share with others who may be interested.

 

This workshop is being co-hosted by the City of Wimberley, the City of Woodcreek, and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. The training will focus on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones and the benefits and direct impacts from healthy riparian zones. The riparian education programs will cover an introduction to riparian principles, watershed processes, basic hydrology, erosion/deposition principles, and riparian vegetation, as well as potential causes of degradation and possible resulting impairment(s), and available local resources including technical assistance and tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation.
These one-day trainings in watersheds across the state include both indoor classroom presentations and outdoor walks along the creek.
The goal is for participants to better understand and relate to riparian and watershed processes, the benefits that healthy riparian areas provide, and the tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation and improve water quality. At the conclusion of the training, participants will receive a certificate of completion.
Continuing Education Units Available
·         Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide Applicators License - 3 CEUs
·         Texas Water Resources Institute  - 1 CEU
·         Texas Nutrient Management Planning Specialists - 6 hours
·         Texas Board of Architectural Examiners “Acceptable for HSW credit”
·         The program may also be used for CEUs for Professional Engineers.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust is sponsoring a catered lunch for attendees and RSVP is required by May 14, 2015 at http://texasriparian.org/trainings/upcoming-training-locations/ . Please select if you would like the catered lunch or if you will bring your own.
Dress is casual and comfortable for the weather as we will be outside at the stream during the afternoon.
For more information or questions please contact Nikki Dictson at 979-458-5915 or n-dictson@tamu.edu.
Please join our listserv or like us on Facebook for more information on future programs!

Posted: April 30, 2015 11:11   Go to blog
Ed Cape SeminarApril 29, 2015 11:17
Ed Cape Water Resources Seminar Series...

Ed Cape Water Resources Seminar Series


The Role of the Texas Water Development Board and Drought in Shaping Texas Water Law

Carlos Rubinstein

Chairman of Texas Water Development Board
Austin, Texas


Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 11:00am Light Refreshments
 

Seminar at 12:00pm
 

Performing Arts Center Recital Hall*
 

Texas State University
 

Sponsored by the Thornton Family and the Aquatic Resources Program of Texas State University


*Parking provided at Edward Gary Street Parking Garage adjacent to Performing Arts Center

Posted: April 29, 2015 11:17   Go to blog
Protect Texans' Rights - Oppose House Bill 1865April 28, 2015 9:51
URGENT! ACT NOW!

Texans use an important process called “Contested Case Hearings” to protect private property interests, community and neighborhood health, and the environment.  Unfortunately, the contested case hearing process is under attack by big special interests who are trying to curtail Texans' rights through the passage of House Bill 1865, which would erode citizen
participation in environmental permitting on fence line projects such as new landfills, power plants, refineries, cement plants, or wastewater treatment plants...
URGENT! ACT NOW!

Texans use an important process called “Contested Case Hearings” to protect private property interests, community and neighborhood health, and the environment.  Unfortunately, the contested case hearing process is under attack by big special interests who are trying to curtail Texans' rights through the passage of House Bill 1865, which would erode citizen
participation in environmental permitting on fence line projects such as new landfills, power plants, refineries, cement plants, or wastewater treatment plants.


HB 1865 switches the "burden of proof" in administrative hearings on draft environmental permits from deep pocketed applicants to everyday citizens.  It is not the citizens who are asking the state for permission to potentially pollute the environment and impact a community — the applicant should have to prove its case.  Also, applicants often have a bevy of high-priced attorneys working in their corner — shifting the financial burden in administrative hearings to Texas citizens,
generally with less resources, stacks the deck deeply in favor of industry.

The bill also gives the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality almost unlimited discretion to decide who is an "affected person" and can have a Contested Case Hearing.  In fact, the bill states TCEQ can use the draft permit as a basis for denying affected person status -- effectively undermining the entire purpose of holding administrative hearings on environmental projects.

It is critically important that your House member hear your opposition to this bill.  Click on the "Act Now" button below to take action.

Act Now
Posted: April 28, 2015 9:51   Go to blog
Another Bill going to committee on Monday!April 18, 2015 18:29
SB 1634, Senator Donna Campbell’s bill relating to the Goforth Special Utility District, is scheduled to go before the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations on Monday as well as SB 1440. This is the bill that limits Goforth’s power of eminent domain to build a pipeline. Please take a few minutes of your Internet time today to send a quick email to the members of the committee (see below). Please let them know that you are in support of SB 1634!

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx,
Sen. Paul Bettencourt paul.bettencourt@senate.state.tx.us
 Sen...
SB 1634, Senator Donna Campbell’s bill relating to the Goforth Special Utility District, is scheduled to go before the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations on Monday as well as SB 1440
This is the bill that limits Goforth’s power of eminent domain to build a pipeline. 
Please take a few minutes of your Internet time today to send a quick email to the members of the committee (see below). Please let them know that you are in support of SB 1634!

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx,

Sen. Paul Bettencourt paul.bettencourt@senate.state.tx.us
 
Sen. Donna Campbell --- She supports her own bill, but you can thank her! donna.campbell@senate.state.tx.us
 
Sen. José Menéndez jose.menendez@senate.state.tx.us
 
Sen. Robert Nichols robert.nichols@senate.state.tx.us 


Posted: April 18, 2015 18:29   Go to blog
Watering the Grass Roots in LAApril 17, 2015 15:34


Excerpt From: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 2, Brad Lancaster, 2008, 2010.
Thought Seeds“Don't pray for rain, if you can't take care of what you get.”--  R.E. Dixon (1937) Superintendent, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Spur, Texas
As reported by American Rivers, development and excessive impervious paving in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding counties contributes to a yearly loss of rainwater infiltration ranging from 57 to 133 billion gallons. If managed on site, this rainwater -- which could support annual household needs of 1.5 to 3...


Excerpt From: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 2, Brad Lancaster, 2008, 2010.

Thought Seeds
Don't pray for rain, if you can't take care of what you get.”
--  R.E. Dixon (1937) Superintendent, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Spur, Texas

As reported by American Rivers, development and excessive impervious paving in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding counties contributes to a yearly loss of rainwater infiltration ranging from 57 to 133 billion gallons. If managed on site, this rainwater -- which could support annual household needs of 1.5 to 3.6 million people -- would filter through the soil to recharge aquifers, and increase underground flows to replenish rivers, streams, and lakes.


Volume 2 Foreword by Andy Lipkis

As president of TreePeople, a nonprofit organization I founded 37 years ago, I like to say that we are helping nature heal our cities. Our work is to inspire people to take personal responsibility and participate in making their cities sustainable urban environments. Our prime focus is to support people in designing, planting, and caring for functioning community forests in every neighborhood in Los Angeles (at the time of this writing, one of the world’s least sustainable megacities).

Forests are natural sustainability infrastructure. Trees are THE basic earthwork. Amongst other things, trees and forests, and the highly porous and mulched soil beneath them, capture, slow, filter, store, and recycle rainwater, and thereby recharge streams, groundwater aquifers, and springs. They provide protection from droughts, floods, and pollution — cleaning the water so it’s drinkable and usable. Trees and forests sustain life. Unfortunately, when most cities were created, the land’s original watershed functionality was unwittingly destroyed. The idea behind functioning community forests is to plant trees and manage the land in cities in a way that mimics natural forests, bringing water, protection, and resources back to urban residents. However, since urbanization has sealed so much of the land with buildings, roads, and parking lots, simply planting trees and creating green spaces often isn’t enough to make up for the lost watershed. By adding additional rainwater harvesting technologies that are designed to mimic nature, such as earthworks — infiltration pits, swales, and cisterns — it is possible to replace the watershed and ecosystem functions that were lost.

The magnitude of the water crisis — and the opportunity — became clear to me in 1992, when the US Army Corps of Engineers proposed to spend half a billion dollars to increase the capacity of the Los Angeles River by raising the height of its concrete walls. The Corps determined that the Los Angeles area had been so overpaved that, instead of soaking into the ground, rainwater from a 100-year storm event would rush off all the paved and sealed surfaces so quickly that it would overwhelm the river and flood the nearby cities of southern L.A. County.

It was at that moment that the “How Yur Tanks?” [note: he refers to habitual greeting of rural Australians] lessons clicked for me. I wondered how much of our 14.7 inches (373 mm) of average annual rainfall we were throwing away each year, and whether we could use that half billion dollars for cisterns to capture and use that precious rainwater, just like the Australians.

I asked the county’s flood control engineers and they dismissed the idea, stating that replacing the river walls would require installing a 20,000-gallon (75,800-liter) tank at each of one million homes — an expensive and impossible task. The local water supply and stormwater quality agencies had similar responses to my questions. The idea was too expensive for their individual missions and budgets and would require what they all considered to be completely unacceptable lifestyle changes on the part of the public. In the process of these discussions, however, I learned that our average rainfall, if harvested and used appropriately, could replace the portion of our imported water that we use for landscape irrigation — roughly half of the one billion dollars worth of water the city of Los Angeles IMPORTED every year.

What seemed impossible to the agencies was perfectly logical to me. Having participated in design and deployment of LA City’s extraordinarily successful curbside recycling program that now serves 750,000 households, the magnitude of the task didn’t worry me. I researched and found out that the separate water-related agencies had separate, unconnected plans to spend a combined $20 billion in the next decade or so to upgrade or repair their respective systems, yielding only “band-aids” with no overall improvement in sustainability of the region.

So, I began designing a 20,000-gallon (75,800-liter) cistern that could safely fit in a small urban yard without compromising anyone’s lifestyle or posing any threat during our occasional earthquakes. It turned out to be a modular 2-foot-wide, linear, recycled food-grade plastic tank that could replace the fence or wall that separates most urban and suburban residential properties. Further, I proposed to outfit all the tanks with wireless remote-controlled valves and pumps that would enable flood control, water supply, and stormwater quality officials to centrally manage the multitude of independent tanks as one highly adaptable storage network.

The networked mini-reservoirs could thereby perform at least triple service for potentially less money than all the agencies’ separate projects. By adapting all the areas’ landscapes to become functioning community forest watersheds, my system was intended to produce multiple additional benefits such as creating tens of thousands of new green-collar jobs, saving copious amounts of electricity (by reducing air conditioning needs with well-placed shade trees AND reducing the pumping required to import water over the mountains into Los Angeles), reusing all garden and landscape biomass and prunings on site as mulch, creating a new local plastic recycling industry product and market, and creating a disaster-resilient backup local water supply.

This was a lovely and compelling vision, but no one in an official capacity took it seriously. I realized I’d need to do something to prove that the idea was feasible, both technically and economically. That notion turned into a six-year program of design, feasibility, and cost-benefit analysis that became known as the T.R.E.E.S. Project (Transagency Resources for Environmental and Economic Sustainability). It involved hundreds of engineers, landscape and building architects, foresters, scientists, and economists who collaborated to create a book full of designs and specifications (Second Nature, TreePeople, 2000) to retrofit or adapt every major land use in Los Angeles to function as urban forest watersheds. Other team members spent two years conducting a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. And finally, we built a demonstration project, adapting a single-family home in South Los Angeles. An overview of the story of the T.R.E.E.S. Project can be found at www.treepeople.org/trees-project-charrette.

The demonstration site, known as the Hall House (named for its owner, Rozella Hall), had a relatively simple set of interconnected earthworks designed to capture, clean, store, and use rainwater from a massive storm event, and prevent any of the rainwater or biomass from leaving the property and thus being wasted. We built berms around the lawns, installed a mulched swale, put in a diversion drain to pick up driveway runoff and carry it to a sand filter under the lawn, fabricated and installed two modular 1,800-gallon (6,822-liter) fence-cisterns which were fed by rooftop rain gutters through a filter, then connected to the irrigation system, and finally, planted a trellis “green wall” of climbing roses to shade and cool the house’s sun-heated south-facing wall. We also removed 30% of the lawn and replaced the remaining turf area with drought-tolerant grass.

Then, on a hot  August day in 1998, we invited our agency partners, numerous public works officials, and the news media to see the demonstration house. We handed them umbrellas and unleashed a 1,500-year flood event, pumping and spraying on that one house 4,000 gallons (15,160 liters) of water in ten minutes. Officials huddled in stunned silence as they watched the water fall and flow, pooling in the bermed lawns and cistern. They saw that none of the water flowed to the street and stormdrain system. They saw how, in that one instant, their annual billion-dollar burden of separate infrastructure systems and needs were elegantly bundled and handled. The result: no stormwater pollution, no street flooding, no greenwaste, dramatic water and energy savings, more attractive landscape, and potentially thousands of new jobs.

The head of LA County Public Works’ flood control division couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and proclaimed that the simple elegance meant this demonstration could be easily replicated. A day later, after he and his staff reviewed both our engineered designs and cost-benefit analysis, he called me: “I’m sorry. We didn’t understand. We think you’ve cracked it. Your idea needs to be deployed throughout the whole county, but it’s going to cost more and take more time than you think. But despite that, we need to begin scaling this up immediately. We’d like to try this idea to solve one of the county’s most persistent urban flooding problems.”

That was the beginning of the Sun Valley Watershed project, located in the City of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. After a successful two-year feasibility study, the County Public Works Department launched a thorough “stakeholder-led” watershed management planning and environmental impact analysis. Six years later, both the plan and environmental report were approved; construction of the first project began within a few weeks. The plan calls for the retrofit of 20% to 40% of the watershed’s 8,000 homes, and installation of a diverse network of earthworks. The earthworks mix ranges from simple to complex, beginning with tree planting, pavement removal, mulching, and berming. On the more complex end, the projects will include installing street swales, and school watershed parks that replace asphalt play yards with permeable greenspaces above large underground infiltration systems and cisterns. Details of the Sun Valley Watershed Plan, progress and planning process are available at www.SunValleyWatershed.org.

The Sun Valley Watershed planning process informed and transformed many of the participating agencies and organizations and inspired others who followed the process. For example, Los Angeles County Public Works formed a new, integrated Watershed Management Division. The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation launched and completed its first ever Integrated Resources Plan for Water. And among several cities outside the Los Angeles area, the City of Seattle initiated its Salmon Friendly Seattle program, which seeks to restore viable salmon habitat throughout the metropolitan area by revitalizing watershed and forest functionality in all the city’s neighborhoods.

There are several keys to the projects’ successes so far:

1) we demonstrated that these adaptations represented acceptable and attractive lifestyle changes that would be politically palatable;

2) we demonstrated with rigorous engineering that they were technically feasible, safe, and capable of solving pressing problems;

3) we demonstrated that they were economically feasible by identifying multiple outcomes and benefits that altogether would over time save money for the assembled funding partners; and

4) we engaged and educated all the stakeholders from both the community (including children) and relevant agencies.

This story is far from over. As it continues to unfold it presents a variety of political, jurisdictional, and regulatory issues and problems that we work to resolve. My initial vision was that so much water and money could be saved by local governments that agencies would help individuals and businesses cover the costs of installing and maintaining the systems on their properties. That is now happening in some cities, such as Santa Monica, Seattle, and Houston, that are giving grants for cisterns and water-saving landscapes.

As we confront growing water-quality and supply issues, plus the increased threat of flooding and weather-related calamities, it is increasingly urgent that we find ways of adapting our homes, neighborhoods, towns, and cities to become climate change and disaster resilient. You have a huge role to play in protecting your household and region by personally implementing some of the water-harvesting practices detailed in this book. If you do this, and make yours a demonstration project, you will help prove that it is feasible and attractive for your region. You will make it more politically palatable, so your local politicians can pass laws, change ordinances and codes, and make resources available to help others implement on a wide scale. And then, collectively, we just might tip the balance and put our nation on the road to a healthy, just, and sustainable future.

Dig in and have fun.
-Andy Lipkis

Andy Lipkis is president of TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based social-profit organization that he founded in 1973. Andy collaborates with leaders, cities, businesses, and agencies to identify and implement natural-systems-based solutions to human, social, and infrastructure problems. He co-wrote, with his wife and partner Kate, “The Simple Act of Planting A Tree: A Citizen Foresters’ Guide to Healing Your Neighborhood, Your City and Your World”, and has been recognized and honored as one of the founders of the Citizen Forestry movement.
Posted: April 17, 2015 15:34   Go to blog
SB 1440 TO BE INTRODUCED TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE MONDAY, APRIL 20th, 2015April 17, 2015 15:28




On Monday, April 20, Senator Donna Campbell's SB 1440 will be introduced to the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee. 
This is the companion bill to Representative Jason Isaac's bill in the House that expands the boundaries of the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation District to include the Electro Purification (EP) well field and the areas of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County that are currently unregulated...




On Monday, April 20, Senator Donna Campbell's SB 1440 will be introduced to the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee. 

This is the companion bill to Representative Jason Isaac's bill in the House that expands the boundaries of the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation District to include the Electro Purification (EP) well field and the areas of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County that are currently unregulated.

Another bill of importance is Senator Campbell’s SB 963 which would protect the Trinity Aquifer in Comal County through the creation of a groundwater district for that county (SB 963).

To support these bills please contact your representatives:

Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee
Charles Perry, Chair (Lubbock)
charles.perry@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0128

Judith Zaffirini, Jose Rodriguez (D) Vice-Chair
judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0121

Brandon Creighton (R - Conroe)
brandon.creighton@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0104

Lois Kolkhorst (R - Brenham)
lois.kolkhorst@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0118

Bob Hall (R - Edgewood)
bob.hall@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0102

Jose Rodriguez (D - El Paso)
jose.rodriguez@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0129

Juan Hinojosa (D - McAllen)
juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us
512-463-0120

Posted: April 17, 2015 15:28   Go to blog
TESPA Press Release Public Hearing April 15, 2015April 14, 2015 11:38



TESPA Press ReleaseApril 13, 2015
  On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, a public hearing will be conducted by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District to evaluate a claim filed by the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA). This public hearing will be held in the Dripping Springs City Hall at 6 p.m.
  This public hearing is in response to a notice of intent to sue filed by TESPA alleging that the wells and well field constructed by Electro Purification were constructed without a necessary permit from the Hays Trinity GCD...



TESPA Press Release
April 13, 2015

  On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, a public hearing will be conducted by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District to evaluate a claim filed by the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA). This public hearing will be held in the Dripping Springs City Hall at 6 p.m.

  This public hearing is in response to a notice of intent to sue filed by TESPA alleging that the wells and well field constructed by Electro Purification were constructed without a necessary permit from the Hays Trinity GCD. This notice is a requirement to filing suit under Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code. In addition to filing the notice of intent, TESPA has filed suit in Hays County state district court in San Marcos. To date, TESPA has not sought preliminary injunctive relief in state court because it has not been necessary to stop further development of the wells.

  Under Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code, the district must respond to the notice of intent to sue within 90 days. TESPA alleges that the Hays Trinity GCD has jurisdiction over the area where the Electro Purification wells are located. Under the statute creating the Hays Trinity GCD, that district has jurisdiction over all portions of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County not otherwise regulated by another groundwater conservation district or entity.

  According to Jeff Mundy, lead counsel for TESPA, “The law that created the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District states that it has default jurisdiction within all of Hays County unless another groundwater district did as of 2001. According to our research and communications with the other districts, no other district claims jurisdiction over the portion of the Trinity Aquifer that Electro Purification seeks to use, and it is within Hays County. So, the HTGCD appears to have regulatory jurisdiction over this area. We hope they will have the courage to step forward and do the job the Legislature gave them to protect the groundwater for all citizens, not just those who can install the biggest pump in the deepest well.

  According to the statute, this claim must be brought by citizens within ½ mile of the Electro Purification wells. According to the notice of intent letter, several TESPA members have water wells on property that they own within ½ mille, and a group such as TESPA is authorized to bring such claims on behalf of its members. These citizens will testify at the hearing, if necessary, in order to establish TESPA’s standing to maintain this allegation under the statute.

  On Wednesday night, we hope that the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will initiate its inquiry into TESPA’s allegation and, in accordance with applicable administrative law procedures, will likely name parties and establish a process for resolving this allegation. The public is welcome to attend this proceeding.

  We encourage TESPA supporters who can to attend this hearing and show the District that the citizens and nearby residents are looking to the District and their elected officials to assert jurisdiction over this matter. The meeting is Wednesday, April 15th, 6 p.m., at Dripping Springs City Hall, 511 Mercer Street, Dripping Springs, Texas 78620.
Posted: April 14, 2015 11:38   Go to blog
Cypress Creek Project UpdateApril 10, 2015 11:16

 For Immediate Release: 4/9/15 

  Implementing the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan 
The Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan has been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is currently available for public review and comment through April 30, 2015. This is one of only a handful of approved watershed protection plans in Texas, and the first with a groundwater component. The plan is designed to keep Cypress Creek clean, clear and flowing...

 For Immediate Release: 4/9/15 


  Implementing the Cypress Creek
Watershed Protection Plan 

The Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan has been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is currently available for public review 
and comment through April 30, 2015. This is one of only a handful of approved watershed protection 
plans in Texas, and the first with a groundwater component. The plan is designed to keep Cypress Creek 
clean, clear and flowing. 

This project is facilitated by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and is funded by the 
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VI. More information about Watershed Protection Planning is available at 
 https://www.tceq.texas.gov/waterquality/nonpoint-source/mgmt-plan/watershed-pp.html/

A full list of Cypress Creek’s Watershed Protection Plan partners and summaries of the Plan and Implementation Proposal are available at http://cypresscreekproject.net

The initial phase of this effort (2008-2010) defined the state of the watershed, gathered input from 
community stakeholders, and developed a science-based tool for local decision makers. Work 
accomplished laid the groundwork for developing a holistic watershed plan to address water quality 
issues associated with increased development and other potential impairments. 

The second phase (2011-2014) involved the development and completion of a watershed protection 
plan, including community-based strategies that comprehensively address watershed and water quality concerns, as well as preserve adequate groundwater flows. 

Implementation of best management practices, educational activities, water quality modeling and 
monitoring and coordination of watershed efforts have been prioritized and Implementation of the 
Watershed Protection Plan will begin in the Spring of 2015. 
  
Public comments may be offered at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FXPFWST. Questions may be 
directed to Meredith Miller at mbmiller@txstate.edu


View the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan 

     Meredith Miller
     Senior Program Coordinator
     512-245-6697
     mbmiller@txstate.edu


Posted: April 10, 2015 11:16   Go to blog
TRIB+Water Volume: 3 Issue: 7 April 08, 2015 14:23

Welcome to Trib+Water, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level.Vol: 3 Issue: 7: ...

Welcome to Trib+Water, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level.
Vol: 3 Issue: 7:
A state appeals court has sided with farmers, ranchers and other longstanding water rights holders in a Brazos River case with widespread implications for future water battles in drought-prone Texas.  
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A state appeals court has sided with farmers, ranchers and other longstanding water rights holders in a Brazos River case with widespread implications for future water battles in drought-prone Texas.  

Three Texas counties and four metropolitan areas ranked among the rapidly growing areas in the country, according to population estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau.
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Three Texas counties and four metropolitan areas ranked among the rapidly growing areas in the country, according to population estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

Dripping Springs state Rep. Jason Isaac went before the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday to make the case for his four-bill cocktail aimed at stopping a controversial groundwater pumping project in Hays County.   
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Dripping Springs state Rep. Jason Isaac went before the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday to make the case for his four-bill cocktail aimed at stopping a controversial groundwater pumping project in Hays County.   

In this week's Q&A, we interview Sharlene Leurig, hydrologist and producer of “Our Desired Future,” a storytelling project about water impacting West Texas.
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In this week's Q&A, we interview Sharlene Leurig, hydrologist and producer of “Our Desired Future,” a storytelling project about water impacting West Texas.

In this week's Bookshelf, our content partner Kirkus Reviews highlights Water to the Angels.
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In this week's Bookshelf, our content partner Kirkus Reviews highlights Water to the Angels.

Family Water Festival, a free event, will be held April 12 with more than 30 water-awareness activities to connect families with their local water sources, particularly the Colorado River.
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Family Water Festival, a free event, will be held April 12 with more than 30 water-awareness activities to connect families with their local water sources, particularly the Colorado River.

The proposed Vista Ridge water project, which would pump water from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer across five counties to the city of San Antonio, could threaten the Hill Country through uncontrolled development.
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The proposed Vista Ridge water project, which would pump water from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer across five counties to the city of San Antonio, could threaten the Hill Country through uncontrolled development.

A Texas Water Journal study of potential contamination of the Copano Bay coastal watershed found that cattle were the largest potential contributors of E. coli and Enterococcus.
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Texas Water Journal study of potential contamination of the Copano Bay coastal watershed found that cattle were the largest potential contributors of E. coli and Enterococcus.

Residents along the San Marcos River, who have had to cope with noise and litter from partying tubers, are getting some help from state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.
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Residents along the San Marcos River, who have had to cope with noise and litter from partying tubers, are getting some help from state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

California Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement of mandatory water restrictions, the first ever in the state, has created a divide between urban and agricultural users as the state faces its fourth year of severe drought.
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California Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement of mandatory water restrictions, the first ever in the state, has created a divide between urban and agricultural users as the state faces its fourth year of severe drought.

As Texas continues to deal with drought, some have questioned whether the state would follow California Gov. Jerry Brown's precedent in issuing mandatory water restrictions.
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As Texas continues to deal with drought, some have questioned whether the state would follow California Gov. Jerry Brown's precedent in issuing mandatory water restrictions.

The Water Supply Cost Savings Act, designed to reduce costs for supplying drinking water to small and rural communities, has been refiled in the U.S. House.
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The Water Supply Cost Savings Act, designed to reduce costs for supplying drinking water to small and rural communities, has been refiled in the U.S. House.

Using data from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.
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Using data from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.
Posted: April 08, 2015 14:23   Go to blog
Hays County Water WarApril 02, 2015 13:32

Private drilling threatens public water supplyBy Vicki Wolf, Fri., April 3, 2015Rumblings from Hays County are reaching the state Capitol, reverberating over a groundwater well project that opponents say could draw more water from the Trinity Aquifer than all the currently permitted well production in western Hays County. In recent weeks, citizens who get most of their drinking water from the Aquifer bombarded state representatives with calls and emails. It was standing room only March 25 at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on bills filed by Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, to stop the project...

Private drilling threatens public water supply

Rumblings from Hays County are reaching the state Capitol, reverberating over a groundwater well project that opponents say could draw more water from the Trinity Aquifer than all the currently permitted well production in western Hays County. In recent weeks, citizens who get most of their drinking water from the Aquifer bombarded state representatives with calls and emails. It was standing room only March 25 at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on bills filed by Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, to stop the project. Since early February, community meetings have been packed with concerned citizens, thousands have signed a petition opposing the project, and a Hill Country coalition – the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association – has filed a lawsuit to stop the drilling.
 
Electro Purification plans to double the amount of water they're pumping from their wells in northern Hays County; a recent study suggested that this could cause water levels in existing nearby wells to drop by up to 500 feet. The EP wells lie in a "white zone," not covered by either the Hays Trinity GCD, or the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer CD.
The uproar is over Houston-based Electro Purification's plans to draw up to 5.3 million gallons a day from the Aquifer to sell to fast-growing neighborhoods and new developments along I-35. The partners in the project include the city of Buda, a proposed subdivision west of the small town of Mountain City, and the Goforth Special Utility District, which intends to build a pipeline and transport EP water to a community outside Hays County. As the Austin suburbs along I-35 continue to grow, they're scrambling to avoid a water crisis – but potentially creating another.

"While I see Buda and others need water, they shouldn't be able to take our water," said environmental attorney Jim Black­burn, who is providing pro bono legal counsel for the TESPA lawsuit. He has a home in Wimberley, two miles from the well field where EP is drilling for water on land leased from a local property owner.

EP says it's providing solutions to water demand that local jurisdictions have not addressed. "What government agencies couldn't deliver, EP accomplished," said Tim Throckmorton, EP's manager. "We are happy to see Hays County water going to Hays County communities." A consultant for EP explained that the company is monitoring the wells to measure the effects on surrounding wells, and plans to share that data to "build a scientifically based model of how much water is truly available."

But according to a study by LBG-Guyton Associates, pumping that much water from western Hays County is likely to leave residents who depend on wells in the area without water. Currently, EP has six producing wells, capable of producing 2.5 MGD (millions of gallons per day). The Guyton study looked at a five-mile area around the EP well field and found that if EP produces 5.3 MGD for one year, the water level near the well field would drop more than 500 feet. Even at 3 MGD, residential wells in the area would see a significant drop in water levels.
Citizens protest the groundwater well project during a Feb. 10 town hall meeting, hosted by state Rep. Jason Isaac.
Citizens protest the groundwater well project during a 
Feb. 10 town hall meeting, hosted by state Rep. Jason Isaac.
Courtesy of Steve Wood
"We're at ground zero," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Editor Louie Bond, who lives in Rolling Oaks. "I live about a mile and a half from the wells that are already there." Looking at data from the Guyton study, Bond estimates that from EP pumping 3 MGD, at the end of one year, the water level for her area would drop 350 feet – her well is 333 feet deep. "I imagine my well is going to go dry very quickly," she said.

Facing this reality, Bond has explored the cost to lower her well pump, dig a deeper well, or install a rainwater harvesting system. She found a 700-foot well would cost $28,000. "Just to lower the pump is quite expensive, and won't begin to deal with the drawdown," Bond explained. A rainwater harvesting system would cost $20,000. "But why should we have to do those things? Don't I have a right to the fair use of the water under my land?"

As Texas law stands today, EP can legally take all the water it wants from the Aquifer. Protected by the state's "rule of capture," the property owner with the biggest pump usually wins when sued by neighbors who are having their water sucked out from under them. The only protection those with smaller pumps have is the authority granted by Texas law to create regional groundwater conservation districts to limit excessive pumping. EP is taking advantage of a loophole in the rule of capture – the company is drilling in a Hays County "white zone" – not covered by any conservation district.

TESPA has sued to stop EP's drilling until the company obtains groundwater use permits from the Hays Trinity Ground­water Conservation District, arguing that that district has default jurisdiction over groundwater in parts of the county not covered by another district. The suit also has a much larger ambition: to overturn the rule of capture.

David Baker, executive director of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, one of the coalition parties in TESPA, says Texas aquifers should be maintained for sustainability. "Over-pumping aquifers to fuel unmanaged growth is irresponsible," he said. "It threatens our economy, our springs, and our surface water."

Two of the three bills filed by Isaac and considered at the Natural Resources Committee hearing were aimed at closing the loophole used by EP, instead giving either HTGCD or Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer District the authority to manage the white zone. The third bill would remove Goforth Special Utility District's eminent domain authority for areas outside its geographic boundaries – without the use of eminent domain, the pipeline to transport water out of the area couldn't be built.

The House committee heard hours of testimony from people who tried to explain groundwater science; reports from residents and local water authorities disputed the EP consultant's reports of the project's likely impact on area water levels. In the end, committee members were reluctant to get involved in the dispute, especially with a lawsuit under way, and the three bills were left pending in committee – or, as HTGCD board President Linda Kaye Rogers put it, "The bills were left floating in the water, as long as there is water to float in."

If the Legislature fails to reform regulation of groundwater, and EP is allowed to proceed and take all the water it can sell from the Trinity Aquifer, such disputes will not be confined to Hays County. There are plenty more white zones for water marketers to exploit: 24% of the state's land area is currently not covered by any groundwater conservation district.
Posted: April 02, 2015 13:32   Go to blog
Hay's County Struggles as it's Population SurgesMarch 30, 2015 13:54
CENTRAL TEXAS GROWTH   One of the fastest-growing counties in the nation is feeling the pinch as its resources are stretched thin. ByAsher Price and TaylorTompkins asherprice@statesman.com ttompkins@statesman.com


Construction crews continue work on the Green at Plum Creek apartment buildings just outside Kyle on Thursday. The population boom in Hays County has stretched its water, housing and government resources in ways that will take years to address. PHOTOS BY LUKAS KEAPPROTH / AMERICAN-STATESMAN...

CENTRAL TEXAS GROWTH

   One of the fastest-growing counties in the nation is feeling the pinch as its resources are stretched thin.

 ByAsher Price and TaylorTompkins asherprice@statesman.com ttompkins@statesman.com


Construction crews continue work on the Green at Plum Creek apartment buildings just outside Kyle on Thursday. The population boom in Hays County has stretched its water, housing and government resources in ways that will take years to address. PHOTOS BY LUKAS KEAPPROTH / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Picture

A sign along RM 150 in Kyle illustrates how the water supply in Hays
County has become a topic of concern as the area’s population continues to grow. Local communities depend on a haphazard mix of river water and groundwater sources.
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Single-family homes go up in the Blanco Vista neighborhood of San Marcos last November. Due to the scarcity of available housing in Hays County, homes in San Marcos are on the market for an average of 133 days, according to a Realtors’ association official. If no new homes were put up for sale, the current housing inventory in Hays County would be sold in just two months, according to the association. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2014
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Hays County residents gather outside the Hays City Store in Driftwood last month to protest the controversial Electro Purification well field being developed near Wimberley.

TOM MCCARTHYJR. / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN
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On the face of it, Hays County’s population boom — its growth is the second highest in the country among heavily populated counties — has been good for business.
Median income outstrips the rest of the state, with the average Hays household earning $58,651, compared to $51,900 in the rest of Texas.

But the boom has stretched the county’s water, housing and government resources in ways that will take years to address. The jail is overcrowded. The scramble is on to secure more water for growth. A lack of major arterial roads means too much traffic is forced onto Interstate 35.
And more people are on their way to Hays every day, many of them migrating from the two metropolitan centers it sits between.

County Judge Bert Cobb said the cost of living in Austin is a direct factor in Hays County’s growth. “The feeling that a lot of people have is, ‘Well, if we don’t build it, they won’t come,’ and that’s destructive,” Cobb said. “They’re coming here for all the reasons everyone comes here — there’s space. As Austin gets worse, they’re driving them into San Marcos and Kyle and Buda.”
Newcomers get their first glimpse of the county’s struggle to meet demand as they shop for a place to live.

There is a severe lack of housing that is driving up prices while making it harder to find a home in Hays County, according to James Walker, vice president of the Four Rivers Association of Realtors, a nonprofit trade group that includes Hays County.

“We’re a very fast growing area and there’s very little inventory out there, particularly in the affordable housing arena,” Walker said. “There are some developments that are coming; they’re just not here yet. Unfortunately, in the past, particularly in San Marcos, they haven’t been real receptive to the idea of bringing in new housing developers.”

Homes are on the market for an average of 133 days in San Marcos, and once a home is put on the market it quickly receives multiple offers, some in cash, Walker said.
If no new homes were put up for sale, the current inventory would be sold in just two months, according to numbers from the association.

Yet even without an abundance of housing, people keep coming.

According to new Census figures released Thursday, Hays is the nation’s second-fastest growing county with a population of at least 100,000. The county saw a 4.8 percent population increase between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014.
And the growth is not likely to slow.

Currently nearing 180,000 people, Hays County could grow by 30,000 people in the next five years and to 440,000 people by 2050, according to projections by the state demographer.
Finding the water to serve all those people is a work in progress.

Waters for fighting

Hays County’s communities depend on a haphazard mix of river water and groundwater sources that have a spectrum of oversight. Working to meet their growing needs, the communities are trying individually strike deals with a variety of water suppliers, even as the county tries to shepherd them into a unified plan.

The broader issues at play with water — issues of private property, of resource preservation, of population growth, of rural versus urban interests, of patchwork regulation — are on display in the fight involving Electro Purification’s groundwater project. The project would pump up to 5.3 million gallons a day to meet the burgeoning drinking, washing, lawn-watering and bathing needs of a rapidly growing area along I-35.

The company says it is lawfully pulling up water and selling it to communities that need it. Neighbors of the project say it will rob them of their own groundwater and that the company has exploited an unregulated store of groundwater.

“We need to take a stand against living unsustainably,” said Purly Gates, who lives in a subdivision adjacent to the Electro Purification well field. “We’re ruled by economic gain. We need to listen to the land. We’re stealing our resources for private gain. We’re fouling our nest in the name of growth.”
But the Goforth Special Utility District, which has a contract to take the lion’s share of the Electro Purification water to serve its 5,600 connections spanning Hays, Caldwell and Travis counties, says it needs the water to meet rising demand.

Goforth, in a lower-income area, has seen a 6 to 8 percent growth rate in its area over the past decade, said the utility’s attorney, Leonard Dougal. Going forward, “our engineer says just expect more of the same,” he said.

Playing catch-up
Growth is at the heart of a web of issues facing Hays county government.
“The organism has to work as a whole,” Cobb said. “If you concentrate on just one aspect of it, you cheat another part of it.”

One piece of the puzzle is transportation.

Commissioners have a transportation plan that would give the county a much needed east-west roadway by connecting RM 150 to Texas 130 in the east and U.S. 290 in the north.
The proposed roadway could take some of the congestion off of Interstate 35 headed into Austin and is waiting for funding from the Texas Department of Transportation, Cobb said.

“Right now it’s easier to get to downtown Austin than to get to Dripping Springs from Kyle,” Cobb said.

Money problems also plague the Hays County Jail, which is outdated and overcrowded.
The jail maxes out at 311 inmates, and the 25-year-old facility has sent inmates to neighboring jails on and off since last July.

While there is talk of building a new facility, county commissioners are looking at the judicial system as a whole. Special courts, such as a veterans court, psychiatric court and drug court, have been or are being developed to save jail space for people who pose a bigger threat to public safety, Cobb said.
The labor cost of those who would work on new dockets is a concern in addition to the cost of building a jail. A study is being done to analyze the needs for a jail facility in order to not build too much or too little, Cobb said.

Like the other struggles that the county is facing, the jail issue requires action soon.
“The problem will only get worse unless we do something,” Cobb said. “Inaction is a decision. We can’t afford to do that any longer.”

American-Statesman data editor Christian McDonald contributed to this report. Contact Asher Price at 512-445-3643. Twitter: @asherprice
Posted: March 30, 2015 13:54   Go to blog
Muse: Short-term water, long-term consequences for Hill CountryMarch 27, 2015 11:09
By Christy Muse - Special to the American-Statesman 
The Vista Ridge water project in San Antonio threatens to follow a dangerous precedent: draining water from one region to another in a way that will only increase exurban sprawl in the Hill Country. If this solution seems familiar it should: It’s the California model that has led to that state having one year of water left.
The Vista Ridge pipeline is a multibillion-dollar project to pipe 50,000 acre feet of water a year, 142 miles across five counties...
By Christy Muse - Special to the American-Statesman 

The Vista Ridge water project in San Antonio threatens to follow a dangerous precedent: draining water from one region to another in a way that will only increase exurban sprawl in the Hill Country. If this solution seems familiar it should: It’s the California model that has led to that state having one year of water left.

The Vista Ridge pipeline is a multibillion-dollar project to pipe 50,000 acre feet of water a year, 142 miles across five counties. That is hugely expensive infrastructure, especially considering there is no assurance about how reliable this groundwater supply will be for the long haul. Aquifers are not unlimited resources.

This is just one of many proposals to pump and pipe water from the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer. It’s one thing to assess the impact of a single project over the next decade or so, but groundwater runs freely beneath several counties and several groundwater districts with differing management plans. We don’t have the science needed to demonstrate the cumulative effect of developing this much water long-term. Unless we manage groundwater withdrawals in a way that takes no more than nature can replenish, we will deplete the resource. Then what?

San Antonio has managed to successfully grow at a steady pace and at the same time reduce water consumption with forward-thinking proven conservation strategies.
The San Antonio Water System openly states it won’t need this water for many years to come. So to help pay for the Vista Ridge pipeline, SAWS is looking for customers along the way, which is prompting eager developers to jump at the opportunity for short-term profits. One question is how will these new subdivisions continue to provide water for new residents when their contracts are up and San Antonio decides it needs the water?

Flash back 10 years — the Lower Colorado River Authority seemed invincible as it obliged developers with water lines west of Austin. In the end, that hotly debated infrastructure proved to be unsustainable. The Lower Colorado River Authority divested itself of the failing water systems, and water is now scarce for the new developments LCRA facilitated, which have actually increased groundwater pumping and pollution. This is a cautionary tale.

Those of us who opposed the water lines 10 years ago argued that we needed to plan for growth rather than fuel unmanageable growth. For the Hill Country Alliance and others who would like to see a more sustainable future, serious questions demand answers before any of these water lines take another step forward.

SAWS isn’t kidding when it says “game changing” water project. Texas is unique in that we don’t have basic rules about land use and land development outside of our cities. The intensity, location and type of development that occurs in unincorporated areas is currently not planned but is happening anyway at alarming rates.

Piping large volumes of water to rural lands will change the landscape from rural to suburban and exurban. With no rules in place there is little oversight on how this development should occur. Density, wastewater management, water quality, transportation systems, scenic views, ranchland protection, cost of schools and public safety, impact on existing tax-payers — these important issues are not being considered comprehensively.

We submit that a better way is possible and that protecting the Hill Country is worth it. A multi-jurisdictional regional plan could determine what areas can accommodate large densities and what areas need a more conservation-minded approach. Water infrastructure could be planned in concert with other infrastructure needs in a consolidated, conservative and affordable way. To do so, counties would need to be given land use and land development oversight. Any path forward must include a guaranteed commitment to water and land conservation.

“The Hill Country is a beautiful area with limited surface water, limited groundwater and no big city to spread rates across,” Robert Puente of SAWS stated. “We would answer the desperate call.”
We agree with the first part of Puente’s statement, but do not hear that “desperate call.” In fact, we believe most people of the Hill Country want thoughtful, appropriate growth that is compatible with our region’s unique qualities. We must plan to avoid California’s fate. Texas can do better.

Muse is executive director of the Hill Country Alliance: www.hillcountryalliance.org.
 

Muse: Short-term water, long-term consequences for Hill Country
Posted: March 27, 2015 11:09   Go to blog
March 26, 2015 14:41

CITIZEN ALERT Misinformation Campaign Against
Wimberley Citizens and Our Property Values

Dear concerned citizens,

Many Wimberley area citizens have written to their legislators regarding the EP situation, asking that the legislature expands Groundwater Conservation District coverage to include the white zone east of Wimberley (the EP well area). On Wed., Rep. Isaac’s bills went before the Natural Resources Committee. The same day, many of those same citizens began getting emails from legislators indicating that they are being told Wimberley citizens are against Wimberley being included in a Groundwater Conservation District...

CITIZEN ALERT 
Misinformation Campaign Against
Wimberley Citizens and Our Property Values

Dear concerned citizens,

Many Wimberley area citizens have written to their legislators regarding the EP situation, asking that the legislature expands Groundwater Conservation District coverage to include the white zone east of Wimberley (the EP well area). On Wed., Rep. Isaac’s bills went before the Natural Resources Committee. The same day, many of those same citizens began getting emails from legislators indicating that they are being told Wimberley citizens are against Wimberley being included in a Groundwater Conservation District. Unbelievable, since we are already in a GCD.
This is part of a note from Rep. Lyle Larson to a Wimberley constituent:

"It is my understanding that the last few sessions, the folks in Wimberley have opposed being included in a groundwater conservation district. Hopefully we can get this issue worked out this session. I look forward to the discussion that will take place this afternoon and will work with Rep. Isaac to develop a solution to ensure water security for the Wimberley area moving forward."

This smells of a classic misinformation campaign, similar to what EP is doing in other areas the last few days, such as the misleading press conference and the disturbing robo-calls from a former Buda mayor - in the water supply business - trying to stir up antipathy from Buda citizens against the Wimberley area victims of the EP water grab. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

Do not let them get away with this. Let your legislators know how totally absurd this is.

1. Wimberley is in the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) and has been since that district’s creation.

2. Wimberley area meetings supporting the white zone residents - and concerned about Wimberley property values being threatened by the EP wells - have been packed and totally in favor of the GCDs (both the HTGCD and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District - BSEACD).

3. In just a few weeks, more than 2,300 citizens of the Wimberley area have signed the CARD Citizens Petition supporting expanding and funding the HTGCD. In addition, almost 4,000 people have signed the similar Hays County Groundwater Watch Dogs petition on Facebook.
Please write the members of the Natural Resources Committee by going to this page. When the page opens, click on the representative’s photo to get his contact information.
And if you have friends in Buda, please, assure them that no one is trying to block their water supply; we are just trying to keep our life water from being stolen for future developments.

- CARD Steering Committee
Posted: March 26, 2015 14:41   Go to blog
TESPA Files Suit To Stop Electro Purification in Hays County District CourtMarch 21, 2015 11:40
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) filed suit in Hays County District Court Friday morning seeking to stop any further work by Electro Purification unless and until they obtain groundwater use permits from the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. TESPA filed suit on behalf of members living within 1⁄2 mile of the Electro Purification project. The suit names Electro Purification and the landowners who leased the groundwater to Electro Purification as defendants...
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) filed suit in Hays County District Court Friday morning seeking to stop any further work by Electro Purification unless and until they obtain groundwater use permits from the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. TESPA filed suit on behalf of members living within 1⁄2 mile of the Electro Purification project. The suit names Electro Purification and the landowners who leased the groundwater to Electro Purification as defendants. 

The suit was filed under provisions of Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code that allow landowners to sue over water well construction on adjacent property when the wells were constructed without appropriate permits. The suit also complains that the rule of capture applicable to groundwater in Texas under older case law violates the new property right in groundwater established by the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day, particularly given the extensive well drawdown anticipated on adjacent properties due to the Electro Purification project. 

According to Vicki Hujsak, a founding incorporator of TESPA, “TESPA was formed to take action to protect our aquifers and springs. It feels good to be fighting back.”
Jeff Mundy, lead trial lawyer for TESPA summarized the main points of the case. “First, our legal research revealed that the Legislature already passed legislation which attempts to protect all of the groundwater in Hays County through groundwater conservation districts. The Legislature gave the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District default jurisdiction over groundwater in all of Hays County, to the extent jurisdiction has not otherwise been given to another groundwater conservation district. The HTGCD has a legislatively mandated duty to protect groundwater to assure it is used wisely and in a sustainable manner.


Second, if for some reason the courts find that the HTGCD does not have jurisdiction to protect this groundwater, TESPA is requesting the Supreme Court of Texas to review and overturn the ‘rule of capture’ as it applies to groundwater, which will have statewide impact in areas not protected by groundwater conservation districts or other water conservation districts. We hope to bring the common law of Texas into accord with the laws promoting groundwater conservation as passed by the Legislature and as mandated by the Texas Constitution.” 

According to Vanessa Puig-Williams, an environmental attorney helping TESPA, “The rule of capture is harsh and archaic, dating back to a 1904 decision that referred to groundwater as secret and occult. We are well beyond the occult in our understanding of groundwater today, and we feel that the time is ripe to challenge this doctrine that has long outlived its usefulness.” 

As filed, the suit seeks a temporary injunction to stop Electro Purification until the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District decides how to respond to the allegation that they have regulatory responsibility for these contested wells. The Hays Trinity District was served Tuesday with a letter giving them notice that they had 90 days to determine what action, if any, they wished to undertake. 

TESPA is holding a public meeting at the Wimberley Community Center on March 21 at 6:30 where members of the legal team as well as other community leaders will speak on the litigation and the challenges that lie ahead in moving toward effective action to protect our aquifer and our springs.
Posted: March 21, 2015 11:40   Go to blog
District Targeted in Water ConflictMarch 17, 2015 12:18
STATESMAN INVESTIGATES HAYS COUNTY WATER DEALDistrict targeted in water conflictNiederwald-area utility would be barred from using eminent domain.By Sean Collins Walsh scwalsh@statesman.com

STEVE LOPEZ/STAFF
ABOUT THIS STORY
To report this story, the American-Statesman submitted Texas Public Information Act requests for copies of all written communications between the Goforth Special Utility District and many players in the Electro Purification plan.Goforth provided some emails but is withholding many others, including all those related to a 13-mile pipeline critical to the project’s future...

STATESMAN INVESTIGATES HAYS COUNTY WATER DEAL

District targeted in water conflict

Niederwald-area utility would be barred from using eminent domain.

By Sean Collins Walsh scwalsh@statesman.com

STEVE LOPEZ/STAFF
ABOUT THIS STORY

To report this story, the American-Statesman submitted Texas Public Information Act requests for copies of all written communications between the Goforth Special Utility District and many players in the Electro Purification plan.
Goforth provided some emails but is withholding many others, including all those related to a 13-mile pipeline critical to the project’s future. Goforth is asking the state attorney general’s office to allow it to seal communications that fall under exceptions to the disclosure law for attorney-client privilege and potential real estate transactions. The office has until April 15 to make a ruling.

As outrage has mounted this year over the Electro Purification well field being built in Hays County, officials from Buda and the planned Anthem subdivision — two customers of the project — have dutifully showed up to town halls and round tables, subjecting themselves to the jeers of their neighbors.

But missing from every public meeting has been the most critical player in making the project a reality: the Goforth Special Utility District, a Niederwald-area water provider that has the largest contract with Houston-based Electro Purification’s venture in Hays County.
Goforth is now front and center because of a bill filed last week by state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, that is designed to stop the project in its tracks. The measure would prohibit Goforth from using eminent domain outside of its service area, preventing the utility from acquiring the right of way needed to build a 13-mile pipeline connecting the Wimberleyarea well field to its customers along the Interstate 35 corridor.

The American-Statesman in January requested copies of all written communications between Goforth and Electro Purification through the Texas Public Information Act. The utility provided a trove of emails but is withholding many others, including all emails related to the pipeline.
Although incomplete, the emails provided from December 2012 to January 2014 offer a window into the planning that went on for years before the project became the subject of outrage in late 2014. The emails show that water quality was a chief concern for the utility in the early stages of the negotiations and that the company sought lower standards for the water. They also show that Electro Purification was eager to move the project along, urging the district at one point to move more quickly.

Electro Purification manager Bart Fletcher wrote in March 2014 that “we need to move forward as soon as possible on the pipeline. We would like the board to approve the delivery of water to Goforth the summer of 2015 tonight, so we can get started on the project.”
The timing could become a critical issue as Isaac and the Trinity Edwards Spring Protection Association — a nonprofit formed by residents near the wells, which plans to sue the company — race against the clock to stop the project before it begins delivering water. Doing so, many believe, could make it harder for Electro Purification to claim it should be grandfathered into any changes in law that would govern the project, which has found a loophole in Texas law that will allow the company to pump from a distressed water source with little oversight.
The wells are being drilled into the Trinity Aquifer but they are in the territory of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. As a result, the authority cannot regulate the project because it isn’t using Edwards water, and the nearby Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District has no jurisdiction because the wells are outside its territory.

Without district oversight, the project is subject only to Texas’ century-old “rule of capture,” which gives property owners nearly unfettered rights to pump water from beneath their land
— even at the expense of their neighbors.

Electro Purification has contracted to deliver up to 5.3 million gallons per day out of its well field off of RM 3237 between Wimberley and Kyle, alarming the hundreds of residents in the area who rely on private wells. Goforth’s reservation for 3 million gallons per day is the largest.
The Trinity Aquifer is generally considered to have poorer-quality water than the Edwards, which is where Goforth’s water supplies currently come from. In January 2013, Electro Purification sent Goforth a draft version of the contract that included suggested changes, including one that deleted a clause that said the water “will meet any more stringent standards reasonably required by the Buyer to ensure acceptable total dissolved solids (TDS), salinity, taste, and odor.”

A month earlier, Fletcher sent Goforth an email saying that the company wanted to use the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s water standards, not the more stringent rules set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. A hydrogeologist at Electro Purification, Fletcher wrote, “advises us that very few water systems in Texas meet EPA standards but meet TCEQ standards.” The executed contract uses the TCEQ standards.

During a February 2014 exchange that set up a meeting for the Goforth board of directors to taste water from Electro Purification’s test wells, Mario Tobias, the utility’s general manager, warned that they might not want to drink untreated water. Leonard Dougal, Go-forth’s general counsel, then volunteered to do so himself: “I will drink it. If I survive, I expect the directors will feel OK about it. So, let’s proceed.”

In the end, the directors tasted the water and were satisfied. Tobias then wrote to the company asking if it was OK to pour out the leftover water. Tim Throckmorton, an Electro Purification manager, said the company did not need the water but joked about disposing it: “Sure put on the plants, that is expensive water!”

In a written statement Monday, Throckmorton said that his company’s relationship with Go-forth began five years ago, when the utility was searching for new ways to provide water to its fast-growing customer base.

“They understood they are required to provide water in their service area, thus they were looking for alternatives to providing for their customers,” Throckmorton said. “Electro Purification and Goforth entered into a contractual agreement in order to meet part of their long-term water needs.”
Although the Statesman requested all communications since January 2008, the earliest email provided by Go-forth was from December 2012. Goforth has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to allow it to withhold communications requested by the newspaper that Dougal believes are exempted from the Public Information Act, including those covered by attorney-client privilege and discussions on potential real estate transactions or eminent-domain takings for the 13-mile pipeline.
Property owners along FM 150, a potential route for the pipeline, have received letters from the Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam engineering firm, which Goforth has hired to help it acquire right of way for the pipeline.

The firm is attempting to negotiate for the easements, but some owners who oppose Electro Purification have vowed not to give up their land. The utility has not yet authorized the use of eminent domain, Dougal said, but it may do so at a future meeting.

The next meeting is March 25. Goforth canceled its February meeting after throngs of angry Wimberley-area residents began showing up to meetings of every governmental body with a connection to the project. Organizers of Electro Purification’s opponents say they are planning to attend the March 25 meeting, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.

But a message on the Goforth website suggests they might not all be able to get in: “There is limited seating (30 seats available) in board room.”

Contact Sean Collins Walsh at 512-912-2939.
Twitter: @seancwalsh
Posted: March 17, 2015 12:18   Go to blog


March 16, 2015: For immediate release
Contact: Vicki Hujsak, TESPA President: 512-847-5639. vhujsak@txwinet.com

TESPA Announces Water Defense Plans at Saturday Meeting

The latest developments in the fight to protect our groundwater in Hays County go public at the TESPA Water Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Wimberley Community Center.

TESPA, the recently formed Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association, wasted no time wading into the major threat to Hays County water and prosperity presented by Electro Purification’s plans to drain 5.2 million gallons a day from the heart of our water-fragile community. Just weeks after the announcement of TESPA’s founding, the group is ready to take its actions directly to the people threatened by EP’s aquifer-draining plans.

"I am excited about this public meeting,” said TESPA co-founder and local resident Jim Blackburn. “We on the TESPA team will present the surprising results of our legal research and discuss moving forward to stop the Electro Purification water development plan. I hope everyone who cares about the future health and prosperity of our area will join us."

It’s no secret that Hays County, recently declared the fastest-growing county in Texas, has long had a serious water issue. Western Hays’ primary water source, the Trinity Aquifer, is already being depleted far faster than it can be renewed. For years county officials have sought alternate water sources for a fast-approaching shortage. Despite this, EP found a county area unprotected by any Groundwater Conservation District, and quietly acquired water rights and signed contracts allowing them to annually suck 1.8 billion gallons of water from the Trinity.

Taking so much water would quickly drain scores and eventually hundreds of local wells. That would not only ruin many homesteads, but would eventually damage property values area wide. Dozens of local organizations and thousands of citizens have reacted with signs, resolutions and outrage.
           
TESPA was formed to fight that threat through litigation and other legal means, and will discuss their promising progress at Saturday’s meeting. Vicki Hujsak, local resident and president of TESPA, will open the meeting with a quick overview. Blackburn will take the podium to recognize citizen members placed at the forefront of legal actions as well as the TESPA legal team to update their latest findings. The team includes Austin trial lawyer Jeff Mundy, Houston environmental lawyer Charles Irvine and Austin lawyer Vanessa Puig-Williams, who also specializes in water and environmental law.

Other water information will come from Wimberley Valley Watershed Association Executive Director David Baker and from Steve Klepfer, Wimberley businessman, former mayor and a member of TESPA.

It’s sure to be an exciting and energy-packed event. The Wimberley Community Center is located at 14068 Ranch Rd 12, next-door to Brookshire Brothers grocery, which will provide overflow parking. For information, watch the TESPA website, www.tespatexas.org.
Posted: March 16, 2015 8:25   Go to blog
March 13, 2015 15:47
Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                     March 13, 2015Hill Country NewsTexas suburbs are growing faster than cities
Counties are growing at extremely high rates, in part because of the lack of land use planning ability outside of our cities. This trend has tremendous costs to tax-payers for basic infrastructure needs such as roads, water and schools. “Hays County, just south of Austin, is projected to be the fastest-growing county, by percentage, in all of Texas by 2050” Read more from the  Austin Business Journal....
Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    
March 13, 2015
Hill Country News
Texas suburbs are growing faster than cities
Counties are growing at extremely high rates, in part because of the lack of land use planning ability outside of our cities. This trend has tremendous costs to tax-payers for basic infrastructure needs such as roads, water and schools. “Hays County, just south of Austin, is projected to be the fastest-growing county, by percentage, in all of Texas by 2050” Read more from the  Austin Business Journal. Learn more about County Planning authority here.

The Southwest Water Wars
An old-fashioned, Western-style water war has erupted. Across Texas and the Southwest, the scene is repeated in the face of a triple threat: booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change. Read more from New York Times.

Isaac Jumping Into Hays County Water Fight
With a high-profile groundwater fight raging in his district, state Rep. Jason Isaac is launching a volley of legislation to stop plans to pump huge amounts of water from underneath Hays County. Read more from the Texas Tribune. Representative Isaac issued his own media release yesterday. Read “Rep. Isaac and Sen. Campbell File Water Legislation Aiming to Protect Trinity Aquifer.” here.

Creating Vibrant Green Cities: Lessons from Seoul South Korea and San Marcos
Join us for a panel discussion with Thomas Hardy, Ph.D., and Matthew Lewis, the City of Austin’s Assistant Director of Planning and Development Review, on the lessons learned from two great green infrastructure projects located an ocean apart. This next event in the Imagine Austin Speaker Series will take place April 1 at the Dougherty Arts Center here.

Victory in Comal County
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) praised the Comal County Commissioners court this week and announced the denial of the Meyers Ranch “Water Quality Improvement District” would have translated to 1,500 homes on 700 acres over the Edwards Recharge Zone. Read more from GEAA.

Hunt School builds Rainwater Harvesting model with funds from Rainwater Revival Grant

6th and 7th grade students from Hunt School are learning all about water conservation and rainwater harvesting thanks to a grant from HCA's Rainwater Revival and the generous help of the Hunt Garden Club. Read more from the West Kerr Current.


 Spring Break has Sprung!
Spring Break is finally upon us. What a perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the Hill Country. Don't forget to grab your camera and snap some shots for the HCA photo contest!
Entering is easy through the HCA website.

Upcoming Events

March

March 13-15 in Llano: Llano Earth Art Fest - Details
March 21 in Kyle - "Hays County: Water, Rocks, ‘Rule of Capture’ and the Future of our Native Plants" - Details
March 25 in San Antonio - Saving Family Lands Seminar - Hosted by Texas Agricultural Land Trust - Details

March 26-29 in Brackettville - Advanced Women of the Land Workshop by TWA - Details
March 27-28 in Hunt - "Introduction to Holistic Management and Ecosystem Function" - Part one in HMI's Mitigating Drought with Holistic Management Workshop Series - Details
March 28 in Austin - Native Plant Society Spring Symposium at the Wildflower Center - Details

March 28 in Stonewall – 8th Annual LBJ 100 Bike Tour - Details
March 29 in Johnson City - "Food, Health and the Environment: Why Eating Right Can Save You and the Earth," presented by Ecologist, Dr. G. David Tilman - 4:30 pm at the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. Details
April

April 1 in Austin - "Creating Vibrant Green Cities: Lessons from Seoul South Korea and San Marcos," part of the Imagine Austin Speaker Series - Details

April 4 in Boerne - 25th Annual Cibolo Nature Center Mostly Native Plant Sale (members only pre-sale April 3 from 5-7pm) - Details

April 4 in San Antonio - Rain Barrel Workshop - Details
April 7-9 in Dallas - Rainwater University 2015 by Texas A&M AgriLife - Who should attend: Texas Flood Plain Managers, Landscape Professionals, Engineers, Architects, Homeowners, Business Owners, Builders, School Districts, City, State and Federal Personnel - Details
April 9 - Six-county wildlife program and tour by Texas Agri-Life Extention - Participating counties: Mason, Menard, McCulloch, Llano, Gillespie & Kimble - Details

April 22 in Jourdanton - Agri-life Workshop - Presentations by HCA's Sky Jones Lewey, Rainwater Harvesting Expert John Kight and more - Details

April 23-24 in Kerrville - The Second Annual Bennett Land Stewardship: “Keys to Hill Country Living" - Details
April 24-26 in Fredericksburg - 5th Annual Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival - Details





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Groundwater Conservation Districts

The truth about Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs), affordable, necessary, essential

Surface and Groundwater Policy Integration
In Texas, water law and regulatory policy treat groundwater differently, and for the most part, separately from surface water.

Conservation Easements

Always your choice, a great tool for heritage ranch protection.  Learn about Conservation Easements.

Night Skies

Communities in the Hill Country want to see the stars at night, find out how you can help protect our night sky.

Groundwater

Water in the Hill Country is at a crossroads. Learn about our Hill Country groundwater supply.

Healthy Riparian Areas

An easy way to keep Hill Country streams clean and flowing is to use simple riparian management techniques.





Posted: March 13, 2015 15:47   Go to blog
Friends of Blue Hole and WVWA Join TESPA to Raise Funds for Aquifer ProtectionMarch 05, 2015 16:02



Joining forces the Friends of Blue Hole and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association are taking action to address the current water crisis in Central Texas brought on by a proposal from Electro Purification, a corporation from Houston, that proposes to use the rule of capture to pump over five million gallons a day from the Trinity and Edwards Aquifer. This unregulated water grab would potentially dry up water wells in adjacent neighborhoods and impact the Edwards and Trinity aquifer springs in an already fragile drought stricken area...



Joining forces the Friends of Blue Hole and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association are taking action to address the current water crisis in Central Texas brought on by a proposal from Electro Purification, a corporation from Houston, that proposes to use the rule of capture to pump over five million gallons a day from the Trinity and Edwards Aquifer. This unregulated water grab would potentially dry up water wells in adjacent neighborhoods and impact the Edwards and Trinity aquifer springs in an already fragile drought stricken area. The two organizations have become members of the newly formed Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) to assist in fundraising for the newly established non-profit. www.tespatexas.org 

"These springs are the lifeblood of this country," said Peter Way, founder of Friends of Blue and founding director of TESPA. Way is a property owner adjacent to the EP well field in the Blanco River watershed. "Without water, this land loses the wonderful character that all of us love. Our long term goal is to develop and implement strategies to protect our groundwater and springs."

The EP threat requires all of us to work together to stop this project," said David Baker Executive Director of WVWA. "We need to protect the people whose homes and wells are endangered, and also to preserve the springs, rivers and aquifers we all depend on. We encourage all concerned citizens and organizations to become members of TESPA and help advance the protection and wise management of our groundwater and its connection to our surface water springs.

TESPA was officially formed Feb. 25 in response to the commercial attempt by Houston-based Electro Purification, LLC, to take 1.9 billion gallons of water annually from the already stressed Trinity Aquifer, creating an immediate and critical threat to Western Hays County private wells and property values. TESPA's goal is to protect, through legal action, those wells and properties as well as the Trinity and the Edwards aquifers and their springs. TESPA has already lined up a legal team and begun preparations for action.

"This is a critical time for Hays County groundwater," said Jim Blackburn, a TESPA board member and property owner in the Lone Man Creek watershed. "When livelihoods and property are threatened, it is reasonable to ask the courts for help.  If we don't fight now with all we can muster, this groundwater will be lost."

Read the full TESPA announcement of formation at www.tespatexas.org  

Press Inquiries please contact:  
Jim Blackburn - 713-524-0122   

 
Supporters can make a tax deductible donation to TESPA, by making a gift to Friends of Blue Hole directed specifically to TESPA endeavors.   

Please make checks payable to
Friends of Blue Hole and mail to PO Box 1601, Wimberley, Texas 78676.

Or go online at wimberleywatershed.org 

Donation can also be made on March 5th & 6th 
as part of the Amplify Austin Live Here Give Here Campaign 
Checks can be made payable to WVWA PO. Box 2534 Wimberley Texas 78676

News Stories on EP Issue SaveOurRollingOaksWells.org
Stay informed on EP issue SaveOurWells.com

Sign Petition here
WVWA Facebook
TESPA Facebook
 TESPA Mailing List

Please Join TESPA for  a community meeting to discuss plans for fighting the Electro Purification project.  Lawyers designing TESPA litigation strategy and local leaders will discuss aspects of the litigation. 

When - Saturday March 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Where - Wimberley Community Center

Posted: March 05, 2015 16:02   Go to blog
March 03, 2015 16:17
Water as Life: Celebrate!
Strengthening Community Through Story Saturday, March 21st, 3-6 pm
The Sanctuary in the Village, Wimberley 
Note the new time for March 21st only!
On the March 21st Spring Equinox, we gather to celebrate our appreciation and love for water through our stories, a water ceremony at Blue Hole and heartfelt music performed by local musicians.  
Stories That Connect Us will adapt the format of the March 21st storytelling circle and expand to include the larger community as we share our individual stories about water...
Water as Life: Celebrate!
Strengthening Community Through Story
Saturday, March 21st, 3-6 pm
The Sanctuary in the Village, Wimberley 
Note the new time for March 21st only!

On the March 21st Spring Equinox, we gather to celebrate our appreciation and love for water through our stories, a water ceremony at Blue Hole and heartfelt music performed by local musicians.  

Stories That Connect Us will adapt the format of the March 21st storytelling circle and expand to include the larger community as we share our individual stories about water. We will break into smaller groups, where everyone will have an opportunity to speak and share from their hearts.

Share your own story about water - your vulnerability about water now, what water means to you, and/or your current relationship with water.  

MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

What to bring:
whatever mat, cushion or chair you need to be comfortable
Location:
501 Old Kyle Road. The Oaks at Blue Hole / The Sanctuary in the Village in Wimberley (the old Baptist church where Helen Stutchbury teaches yoga). At the corner of 3237 and Old Kyle Rd. on the way to Blue Hole. Click here for a map.

Fee:
love donations

We would love to share this sacred day with you!
Shiila and Dan
A Return Project Event
For more information, contact Shiila@CreativityinNature.com
Posted: March 03, 2015 16:17   Go to blog
Group Formed to Protect Trinity, Edwards Aquifers and SpringsFebruary 25, 2015 19:19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Group Formed  to Protect Trinity,Edwards Aquifers and SpringsFebruary 25, 2015
    TheTrinity Edwards SpringsProtection Association (TESPA)today announced its formation as a Texasnon---profit corporation createdto protect these aquifersand their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater propertyrights associated with owning land over the Trinity and EdwardsAquifers and associated springs.
     TESPA was formed as a responseto the attempt by a private company– Electro Purification --- to develop and sell 5.1 million gallonsper day of groundwater from the TrinityAquifer...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Group Formed  to Protect Trinity,Edwards Aquifers and Springs
February 25, 2015

    TheTrinity Edwards SpringsProtection Association (TESPA)today announced its formation as a Texasnon---profit corporation createdto protect these aquifersand their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater propertyrights associated with owning land over the Trinity and EdwardsAquifers and associated springs.

     TESPA was formed as a responseto the attempt by a private company Electro Purification --- to develop and sell 5.1 million gallonsper day of groundwater from the TrinityAquifer. The ElectroPurification project will harm adjacentneighbors who are totally dependent upon private wells in the Trinity for their water supply. However,the issues to be addressedby TESPA go beyond the dispute with ElectroPurification to includemore general protection for springs throughout centralTexas springs which are the key to the survival of Texas’ beautiful flowingstreams and to property valuesand the use and enjoyment of private property.

    According to Vicki Hujsak,President of TESPAand a resident of the Lone Man Creek watershed, “The Electro Purification proposal has made us all aware of how vulnerable our groundwater resources are. We all depend upon this water and we neverimagined it couldbe taken away from us but it apparently can. We have made up our minds to fight back throughthe legal system.”


    “TESPA plans to focusits legal effortsunder two key approaches initially” said Jim Blackburn, a TESPA board member and property owner in the Lone Man Creek watershed. “First,the Edwards AquiferAuthority has failedto take regulatory authority over the ElectroPurification proposal and we disputethat determination based on the many interconnections betweenthe Edwards and Trinity Aquifers throughthis fractured limestonegeology. And second,we believe that there is a fundamental conflictbetween the TexasSupreme Court’s rulingin the Day case and the way that the Rule of Capture works with regardto groundwater. These are controversial issues and we intend to pursue them in the court system.”

    Malcolm Harris, a Wimberleyresident and Austinattorney working with TESPA, adds “The court system is an appropriate placefor this disputeover the extent and nature of property rightsin water. Courtshave been adjudicating property rights since they began,and we will seek a court ruling better defining and protecting the property right in groundwater that the Texas Supreme Court undertook to affirmin the Day vs. EAA case.”

    Inthe Day case, the Texas Supreme Court determined that groundwater was the property of the surfaceowner even if they had not drilledinto the aquifer and captured the water.  They also stated that they were applying the rule of capture, even thoughthat concept, as interpreted in the 1999 Sipriano Case, allows the drainingof a neighbors’ groundwater.

    According to Jeff Mundy of Austin,lead counsel for TESPA, “The neighbors of this proposed well are in danger of their own water wells going dry. If this corporation can drain 5 milliongallons a day for profit,and leave the adjacent homes with dry water wells and people with not even enough to drink, cook, and bathe, who is next?When will electedofficials protect citizens?”

    “The Texas Constitution is clear that the Legislature must pass all laws appropriate to preserve and conserve the natural resourcesof the state,” says Vanessa Puig-­Williams, an attorney and member of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, “but the Legislature has not adequately done so with respect to groundwater in Texas,and now people’sprivate property rights are in jeopardy.”

    More generally, TESPA hopes to set in motion a protective umbrellathat covers much of the Texas Hill Country. According to TESPA directorPeter Way of the Cypress Creek and Blanco River watersheds, “These springs are the lifeblood of this country.Without water, this land loses the wonderfulcharacter that all of us love. Our long term goal is to develop and implement strategies to protect our groundwater and springs.”

    “Many springs in the Texas Hill Country, such as Jacob’sWell, are related  to water movements through the Trinityand Edwards Aquifers”said David Baker Executive Director of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, an organizational memberof TESPA . “This complex  geology defies the current regulatory system.We seek a more comprehensive view of this groundwater system and its relationship to springs and surface water.Sustainable management of all water is what we have come togetherto advocate for.”

According to President Hujsak,“TESPA is currently planning to file suit to protect the RollingOaks area immediately adjacent to the Electro Purification proposed project.  We are building an organization that we hope will lead the fight for years to come. The one thing we have learned so far is that we will lose this groundwater if we do nothing. We must fight for it.”

 
Posted: February 25, 2015 19:19   Go to blog
When Will Austin’s Swimming Holes Dry Up? by Lani Alvarez on February 18, 2015February 22, 2015 20:11
RootsRated Stories How Central Texas aquifers (and pumping them out) affect your outdoor recreation For those of us who swim, paddle, fish, hunt, or simply just enjoy the flowing waters of Central Texas, no water means no play. While aquifers—those vast underground rivers—remain mysterious and unseen far below us, they have a huge impact on our everyday life. Not just for drinking and showering, but for recreation as well.

In addition to water playgrounds like Barton Springs, take Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, for example, one of the finest swimming holes in Central Texas...
 
How Central Texas aquifers (and pumping them out) affect your outdoor recreation
For those of us who swim, paddle, fish, hunt, or simply just enjoy the flowing waters of Central Texas, no water means no play. While aquifers—those vast underground rivers—remain mysterious and unseen far below us, they have a huge impact on our everyday life. Not just for drinking and showering, but for recreation as well.

In addition to water playgrounds like Barton Springs, take Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, for example, one of the finest swimming holes in Central Texas. For the first time in history, the spring, which is fed by the Trinity Aquifer, dried up completely in the year 2000. Then it happened again in 2008.
Years ago, it would be impossible to descend more than two feet below the surface because the spring would bubble you up with incredible force. Parents would toss their children into the well smiling and without fear, confident they’d bob right back up. Some historians even say that in past centuries the spring would shoot as high as 30 feet above ground! This was all because of the strong aquifer flow.
But now, due to major development in the area as well as drought and overpumping, all we have are distant memories of the past and ongoing measures in the present to address water conservation and quality of the aquifer. Yet, even attempts like these don’t ensure protection. On Feb. 10, a furious crowd overflowed the Wimberley Community Center to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) put an end to a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. The project is planning to pump 5.3 million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer and, for a pretty penny, sell more than a million gallons a day to the city of Buda. But action to stop the project remains to be seen.
People packed the Wimberley Community Center Feb. 10 during a town hall meeting with Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, to demand a stop to the commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County, but unless changes are made, the project could still pump and sell precious aquifer water. Lani Alvarez
Underlying this conflict is a critical issue highly likely to boil up in increasing frequency across Texas as water resources diminish and the population swells. “No natural resource issue has greater significance for the future of Texas than water,” says Dr. Andrew Sansom, executive director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
Everyone knows rain in Central Texas is sporadic, unpredictable and, more often than not, infrequent. Now stop for a moment and imagine if we had to rely solely on rain to keep our rivers and creeks flowing. For almost two decades now, Texas has suffered under record drought. And as we already are seeing in many spots, some of Austin’s best paddling trails may become a lot less enjoyable in shallow, still water. Fortunately for us, aquifers capture and store rain and release water over time into our rivers, streams, and springs. And yet, such aquifers are threatened by projects like the one near Wimberley.
The view from a glass-bottom boat tour on Spring Lake, which is fed by the Edwards Aquifer. Lani Alvarez
“Think about Spring Lake in San Marcos and Barton Springs in Austin,” says Louie Bond, editor-in-chief of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. “All are fed by these underground bodies of water—all are in danger of drying up if we empty the aquifers.”
Even though the Trinity aquifer, which the controversial project is targeting, may seem relatively distant from Barton Springs, it is intricately linked. The Trinity aquifer feeds the Blanco river, and during droughts, the Blanco feeds Barton Springs much of its water, according to Nico Hauwert, senior hydrogeologist for the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department.
To put this connection in real context, “If the baseflow to the Blanco river near Wimberley were to cease,” reported Hauwert, “Barton Springs could dry up in three months.”
Texas blind salamander: The only place in the world this endangered species can live is deep within the Edwards Aquifer. It is completely blind because its eyes are not needed in the darkness of the aquifer. Lani Alvarez
 All aquifers in our region affect our outdoor recreation. Swimmers, divers, paddlers, anglers alike—all are impacted by the water that is or is not in Central Texas aquifers. Additionally, there’s the impact this would have on endangered species that are entirely dependent on these springs, such as the Texas Blind Salamander that lives only in the Edwards Aquifer. Whether you love diving into a deep well of water or simply observing the wildlife around you, this is an issue that affects you directly.
So when will Central Texas water playgrounds dry up? It seems that’s up to us.
Here are just a few ways you can do your part to help preserve our aquifers:
  • Voice your concern about aggressive pumping. Visit SaveOurWells.com and consider signing this petition. If you’re in Buda or Wimberley, or almost anywhere in Hays County, you may be directly affected by the current controversy over Electro Purification’s aggressive water pumping from the Trinity aquifer.
  • Learn about your aquifer authority or groundwater conservation district. You vote for your board members—find out who shares your goals for a healthy aquifer and who might have less-than-pure motivations for controlling how much is pumped.
  • Grow food, not lawns. Today lawns are the largest modern water wasters. How about planting some butterfly- or bird- attracting plants instead? Or food for yourself. When your neighbors see the wonderland you’ve created, they’ll want one of their own.
  • Xeriscape. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping and gardening that utilizes water-conserving techniques. More than half of our fresh water supplies go to landscaping, so this method is highly promoted in drought-sensitive Central Texas.
  • Join a citizen science group, such as the Texas Stream Team, that is dedicated to learning about and protecting the 191,000 miles of waterways we have here in Texas.
  • Read up on other ways to conserve water, such as the Water—Use it Wisely website, which offers nearly 200 water-saving tips that you can download, print, and even share on social media.
Posted: February 22, 2015 20:11   Go to blog
LCRA: Current drought worst on record for Central TexasFebruary 19, 2015 13:31
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities...

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities.

Due to dry weather and the low inflow, the Highland Lakes’ firm yield, which is an inventory of water LCRA can provide reliably every year, has been decreased by about 100,000 acre-feet, to 500,000 acre-feet per year. And the firm yield could continue to drop, according to LCRA data. An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

Six of the 10 lowest inflow years have all happened since 2008.

“We’re in a historic drought like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes,’’ LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said in a prepared statement. “Even in these conditions, however, lakes Travis and Buchanan remain significantly above their all-time lows, thanks to smart water management decisions and excellent water saving efforts by our customers throughout the lower Colorado River basin.”
The LCRA manages the Highland Lakes and lower Colorado River. The river authority also generates power for the region and operates area parks, among other responsibilities.

On  Wednesday, the lakes contained about 717,000 acre-feet, or 36 percent of capacity. That’s nearly 100,000 acre-feet more than the 1952 all-time low combined storage of 621,221 acre-feet, or 32 percent of capacity. The revised estimate of the firm yield changes the amount of water available for sale in the future, but does not impact existing contracts, such as those held by the City of Austin and other firm customers, according to the LCRA.

“LCRA has water available to meet all our existing contracts,” Wilson said in a prepared statement. “The good news is the reservoirs are doing what they were designed to do – capturing water when it rains, and holding it for use during droughts.”

LCRA will work on expanding its water supply further, Wilson said, including the construction of a new reservoir near the coast. LCRA began building the Lane City Reservoir in Wharton County in late 2014. The reservior is expected to hold 90,000 acre-feet of water and be completed in 2017.
The firm yield is unrelated to trigger levels in the 2010 Water Management Plan that determines how water is divvied up among customers during drought. The plan sets out three triggers that must be met before the LCRA Board issues a Drought Worse Than Drought of Record declaration. Those triggers are:
  • 24 months since lakes Travis and Buchanan were full.
  • Prolonged low inflows worse than inflows during the 1947-57 drought.
  • Combined storage in lakes Travis and Buchanan at less than 600,000 acre-feet.
If the LCRA declares the current drought to be worse than the drought of record, it would cut off Highland Lakes water for certain customers and impose water-use cutbacks of 20 percent for firm customers. Current estimates show combined storage could potentially hit 600,000 acre-feet in May or June.
Posted: February 19, 2015 13:31   Go to blog
PEC Press Release February 18, 2015 10:27
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                              Feb. 17, 2015MEDIA CONTACT: Kay Jarvis, (830) 868-4961; media@peci.com
PEC Board votes in support of groundwater legislationAt its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of legislation on groundwater production. The vote is a show of the Board’s stance on this issue, which is an important one for communities within the Co-op’s service area.  The Texas Water Code recognizes that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath the land...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                              Feb. 17, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Kay Jarvis, (830) 868-4961; media@peci.com

PEC Board votes in support of groundwater legislation

At its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of legislation on groundwater production. The vote is a show of the Board’s stance on this issue, which is an important one for communities within the Co-op’s service area.  
The Texas Water Code recognizes that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath the land. It also allows for the creation of groundwater conservation districts in order to protect natural reservoirs against “wasteful or malicious drainage.”
By resolution, the PEC Board states that the boundaries of these districts are not consistent with the hydrogeology of Central Texas and that unregulated aquifer areas exist which are vulnerable to the commercial drainage of groundwater from beneath a landowner’s property.
“Well drillers are locating these gaps in water district jurisdictions and exploiting them for pure profit,” said PEC District 6 Director Larry Landaker, who sponsored the resolution. “What is happening in Hays County through the misuse of the rule of capture is tantamount to the theft of water by one community to serve another. … That volume of water could … create a serious economic impact to the Hill Country communities we serve. Economic impact to the Hill Country is economic impact to PEC.”
The Board called for legislation to establish the proper local regulation of commercial and non-exempt groundwater production in Hill Country aquifer areas which are currently outside of existing conservation districts. It also agreed to communicate its support to the Texas Legislature and specifically to State Representative Jason Isaac, who is currently working on legislative solutions to address this issue.
“Reliable energy and water supplies are essential for the homes and businesses of our service area. We must all remain committed to protect our groundwater resources for the future of the Texas Hill Country,” said PEC Board President Dr. Patrick Cox. “It’s in PEC’s best interest to support the best interests of its members.”
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Posted: February 18, 2015 10:27   Go to blog
House Concert benefiting WVWA - registration is liveFebruary 17, 2015 11:58

  Chick MorganPlease join us March 21st for this fun evening of entertainment by Chick Morgan to support the water stewardship programs of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association. Only 30 seats available! “Jazzed For Justice” is the brainchild of the WUUHOOs (Wimberley Unitarian Universalists Helping Others Out). We are members and friends of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, all living in the Wimberley Valley area. Our purpose is to support local issues of justice and sustainability, in keeping with Unitarian Universalist values...

ChickMorgan1

  Chick Morgan

Please join us March 21st for this fun evening of entertainment by Chick Morgan to support the water stewardship programs of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association. Only 30 seats available! “Jazzed For Justice” is the brainchild of the WUUHOOs (Wimberley Unitarian Universalists Helping Others Out). We are members and friends of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, all living in the Wimberley Valley area. Our purpose is to support local issues of justice and sustainability, in keeping with Unitarian Universalist values. For this concert, we have selected the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association for our donations. Nobody has worked harder to protect this vital resource in our area.


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Posted: February 17, 2015 11:58   Go to blog
Texas Tribune Article About Isaac EP Wimberley Meeting 2/10/2015 Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to ComeFebruary 11, 2015 16:15

Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come  
Feb. 11, 2015, by Neena Satija   photo by: Axel GerdauWIMBERLEY — Hundreds of people packed a community center Tuesday night to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stop a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. Not that there is much he can do to stop it...

Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come  
Feb. 11, 2015, by Neena Satija 
     photo by: Axel Gerdau
    WIMBERLEY — Hundreds of people packed a community center Tuesday night to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stop a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. Not that there is much he can do to stop it.

    But their wrath underscored an issue likely to flare up repeatedly across the state as water supplies dwindle and the population keeps growing: Texas' approach to managing groundwater is increasingly incompatible with the demographics and growth patterns of the state. And possible solutions are hard to find amid bruising local politics, deep-pocketed business interests and small-government-minded legislators.

    If the town hall meeting called by Isaac is any indication, the fights will not be gentle. 
    The community center was decorated with signs that read "EP go home!!!" and the cheeky, "They pumped paradise and put up a subdivision." Public officials and an angry crowd used the meeting to shame those who would profit from the Hays County deal. "We don't want you here. We want you to leave," said Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, pointing directly at Tim Throckmorton.

    Throckmorton owns Houston-based Electro Purification, or EP, which is planning to pump more than 5 million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County, where no groundwater regulator has any authority. That's far more water than has ever been pumped in the region, and area hydrologists fear it could have devastating effects on the wells most nearby residents rely on.

    Conley's verbal assault drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd. And a presentation from Clark Wilson, who is building a community of homes and hopes to buy EP's water, drew jeers from the audience. "Apparently, none of y'all live in my homes," he said defiantly, while people laughed at pictures of his planned neighborhood complete with green lawns, a lake and a neighborhood swimming pool. 

    Throckmorton, too, looked embattled. "Our customers have come to us and asked us, can we come up with a solution to their problem" of a water shortage, he told the audience. "And at this point, we're not sure we can." Hydrologists who spoke before Throckmorton acknowledged that wells near EP's may go dry because of the company's pumping. 

    The controversy has spurred residents into action all over the county, but especially in the Rolling Oaks subdivision, a neighborhood of about 300 families just a few miles from the proposed well fields. Signs that read "Save Our Wells" and "Stop the Water Grab" are planted in many front yards, and cars sport bumper stickers reading "Buda, please don't suck us dry." (EP wants to sell its water to the fast-growing city of Buda and new planned subdivisions in the area, including Wilson's.)

    "It's been a political awakening for us," said Dan Pickens, a marketing executive who has lived in Rolling Oaks for 20 years. "What's the value of a home with no water?"
    Pickens and his neighbors say their wells are already unreliable in the midst of severe drought, and they deserve protection. But on the flip side, some say, landowners also have the right to sell the water beneath their land for a profit. And that's exactly what two families in the area have decided to do, using EP as the marketer. 

    "That is always the irony of property rights proponents, just to be blunt," said Russ Johnson, who represented one of the landowners who is selling their water to EP. "What really makes people bat crazy, and correctly so, is ... not everybody can share."

    The solutions offered so far are myriad, but limited. Several landowners say they'll fight attempts to send the water pipeline across their property. And Isaac has proposed legislation that would give the Texas Water Development Board some say over wells in unregulated areas like where EP is drilling.
    But that's unlikely to happen, said Brian Sledge, a water lawyer who lobbies for the Texas Water Conservation Association, one of the largest water interest organizations in the state. For decades, the Legislature has left local groundwater districts to decide who can pump water and how much they can pump, not the state. "I can't think of a better system," he said.

    It's more likely that Isaac will be able to extend the boundaries of one of the neighboring groundwater conservation districts to include the area where EP is drilling. And Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell, whose district also includes the region, told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday that she would support such legislation.
    Still, that isn't a silver bullet. If EP has already started producing water, no district could retroactively cancel its ability to do so. If the district tries to limit how much water EP can pump, it's likely to end up in court. That means the district needs to have ample financial resources — and the Legislature is unlikely to have the appetite for giving local regulators any more power to tax or charge groundwater production fees.

    A more practical solution, said lawyer Russ Johnson, is to start accepting the fact that some people's wells will be impacted. EP has offered a "mitigation plan" of sorts, which could involve paying well owners to lower their pumps if the project causes their water supplies to dry up. And the city of Buda, which hopes to buy 20 percent of the EP water, has promised to be a part of that.

    But how much that will cost is impossible to know, because even EP acknowledges that the impacts of pumping are still unknown. "The effect of the pumping can only be known by long-term pumping and monitoring of the aquifer response," the company said in documents prepared for Buda.
    That's a wild card for Buda, which may have to budget more for the project if mitigation gets expensive, said the city's mayor, Todd Ruge. "I just want a chance to show them that we are a good neighbor," he said of those who oppose the project in Rolling Oaks and elsewhere. More than 1,500 properties and seven utilities that rely on groundwater are located near EP's well fields, local officials say.

    Donald Lee, director of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, said there's a much larger problem that needs to be addressed: growth occurring outside the jurisdiction of cities. The new subdivisions that EP wants to sell water to, for instance, aren't under the jurisdiction of Hays County or any nearby cities. So no one has any real authority to make sure growth proceeds prudently. 
    Giving counties more authority to regulate growth would be a big help, Lee said, but it's not clear if that will happen anytime soon.

    "Growth isn't unsustainable if we don't screw it up," he said. "But right now, there's pressure to screw it up."
    Posted: February 11, 2015 16:15   Go to blog

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    Wimberley Valley Watershed Association   
    P. O. Box 2534
    Wimberley, TX 78676
    512 722-3390   mail@wimberleywatershed.org

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