News

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...Hill Country NewsSeptember 17, 2014 16:37



Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst
Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. What’s the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Neena Satija, Texas Tribune...



Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst
Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. What’s the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.

Where is the Hill Country?
ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country.  View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.

Wild Pigs!
Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.
No Land. No Water.
As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.

"I’m a NIMBY and proud"
“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.
Fall Camping Workshops Announced for Outdoor Families
With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Interested in getting more actively involved in HCA?
Join HCA leaders and volunteers as well as invited elected officials, GCD board members, landowners and conservationists for a day dedicated to vibrant towns, healthy landscapes, protected natural water systems and people making a difference in our Hill Country.  HCA Leadership Summit, September 25th at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg. Space is limited Register today.

Upcoming Events

September

September 17 in Lakeway - Water Matters by Central Texas Water Coalition - Details

September 18 in Austin - The Barstow Speakers Series: Wat're the possibilities? Strategies to Reduce the Strain on the Colorado River - Details
September 20 in Fredericksburg - Fredericksburg Shines 2nd Annual Sustainability Green Homes Tour - Details

September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details
September 25 in Fredericksburg - Hill Country Alliance Leadership Summit - Details
September 26 in Kerrville - 2014 New Landowner Series: Back to Basics, Home Gardening, Chickens, Natural vs. Organic - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details

September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details
September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details
October

October 1 in Austin - No Land, No Water: Tools & Strategies for Conserving Land to Protect Water Resources - Presented by Texas Agricultural Land Trust - Details
October 8 in San Antonio - Water Forum V: A regional forum on our future - Details
October 16 in Boerne - Hill Country Agri-land workshop - Details

October 17-19 in Alpine - Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference: Ecological Restoration in the Southwest - Details

October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details

October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details
Posted: September 17, 2014 16:37   Go to blog
Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst by Neena SatijaSeptember 17, 2014 14:42

Sept. 12, 2014
Enlargephoto by: Callie Richmond
Darwyn Hanna grows pecans and runs cattle on some of the land he owns in Bastrop County...


As drought continues to grip Central Texas, those looking to provide water to the region’s fast-growing cities and suburbs see a solution in a relatively untapped aquifer.

Water marketers, who bundle groundwater rights and sell the water to cities, say the region’s Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer holds hundreds of trillions of gallons of water. They say that is enough water to sustain growth for centuries in areas around Austin, whose reservoirs are only 34 percent full, and San Antonio, whose own aquifer is at such low levels that federally protected species are at risk.

But those who live above the Carrizo-Wilcox in rural Central Texas counties tell a different story, along with some environmental advocacy groups. They say bids from three prospective water providers to pump a combined 50 billion gallons of water a year from the aquifer will accommodate urban growth at the rural counties’ expense and drain a precious resource within just a few decades.
Scientists say determining who is right depends on the answers to a few key questions: Who is the water for? How much is the user willing to pay to get it? And how much will that user compensate others who may no longer be able to access the water as a result?

“It’s not a matter of availability,” said James Beach, a hydrologist for the firm LBG-Guyton who studies the Carrizo-Wilcox for a groundwater management district, the Central Texas water provider Aqua and San Antonio’s water utility. “The volume of water is there. It’s more a question of impact,” and how to measure and deal with those impacts, he added.

For example, shallow farm wells could run dry because of other pumping unless their pumps are lowered — which could cost thousands of dollars. Most hydrologists say those wells would have to be deepened if proposals to remove large amounts of water from Burleson, Bastrop and Lee counties proceed.

But they also say that water companies can compensate landowners, pointing out that many — including mining companies and water utilities — have done so in recent decades across Texas and in other portions of the aquifer. The water marketer End Op, which hopes to pump about 15 billion gallons a year from underneath Bastrop County, has agreed to pay millions of dollars into a fund to help landowners who may have to lower their pumps.

Not everyone is satisfied by that response. “I think that’s just saying, ‘We’re going to throw money at this so that we can bankrupt the system and overpump it,” said Darwyn Hanna, whose family has owned land in Bastrop County for five generations. Hanna grows pecans and runs cattle on some of his 250 acres, and while he does not pump groundwater, he is contesting End Op’s permit because he believes it will devalue his land.

Even the water marketers themselves could run into trouble as the region continues to grow. Drilling in the deepest portions of the Carrizo-Wilcox should help minimize the impact on rural landowners with shallower wells, and water marketers argue that they only need to remove a small percentage of the total water believed to be stored in the aquifer.

But sustained groundwater removal from even the deepest portions will cause water levels there to decline, and lowering pumps will not always do the trick. Eventually, the user will have to drill more wells to continue removing water at the same rate, said Robert Mace, deputy executive administrator at the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s water planning agency.
“If you wanted to set out and drain 5 percent of the storage of the Carrizo, I think you could do it” and leave most of the aquifer intact, said Mace. “But would it be economical to do that?” Adding extra, deeper wells can be a significant expense, he said.

Aqua Water Supply Corporation, which sells Carrizo-Wilcox water to thousands of Central Texans, has already protested attempts by other marketers to pump from the aquifer, saying that they would impact its ability to provide water to its customers.

James Bene, a hydrologist who consults for BlueWater Systems, which hopes to pump 16 billion gallons a year from the Carrizo-Wilcox in Burleson County to sell to San Antonio said pumping by nearby users “a substantial risk for the financial backers of projects like this.”

“They’re trying to figure out what a good payback on a 30-year loan will be,” Bene said. “Well, that’s easier said than done when you’re not sure whether you’ll be pumping water from 100 feet below ground level or 300 feet below ground level. So nobody is really sure.” But, he added, “I can tell you that any reasonable designer of a well field builds in some safety margin.”

Another related concern for environmental advocates is the relationship between the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer and the Colorado River, whose flow has been at its lowest in decades. Studies show that the aquifer contributes some water supply to the river each year.

Modeling by George Rice, a former Edwards Aquifer Authority hydrologist, suggests that pumping by companies like End Op and BlueWater Systems could cause Carrizo-Wilcox to begin pulling water out of the river instead of putting water into it. That could cause further damage downstream to fishermen, who depend on the river’s freshwater flows for a steady supply of oysters and shrimp in Matagorda Bay. But no one has ever firmly established the relationship between the river and the aquifer.

“Give us a million dollars and give us a 20-year time to study it, and we’d come to an inconclusive result,” said Alan Dutton, a professor of hydrogeology at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has worked on state models of the aquifer. “The margin of error is much greater than the effects we’re trying to distinguish.”

There is also less funding for such research, and technical staff for groundwater modeling at the state water planning agency has been reduced by half.

But no matter how much more data is collected, basic questions will still remain over how to allocate a limited resource — especially one that is considered private property under Texas law.
“That’s going to be a political and socioeconomic issue in 30 years,” Bene said.
“Is the economic growth along the I-35 corridor worth a little bit extra drawdown for ranchers or farmers or landowners to the east? I can’t answer that,” Bene said. “But again, I can speak to the inevitability. We have no other source of water, really. We have to look to our major aquifers.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at San Antonio is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Posted: September 17, 2014 14:42   Go to blog
Houston Environmental News Update September 16, 2014 September 17, 2014 9:56
In This Issue CEC NotesWelcome new subscribersDowntown Fall FestCOALITION NOTESThe Future of Transportation in The WoodlandsSierra Club Evening Benefit EventA Story of Memorial Park: People in NatureHouston Green Film Series: Come Hell or High WaterClean Waters Initiative: Water Rights and Water ReusePublic Interest Design Institute at RiceHouston Speaks: My Houston 2040Native Plants at Home and Garden ShowGalveston Bay Foundation Rain Barrel ProgramXtreme Hummingbird ExtravaganzaFifth Ward/Buffalo Bayou/East End WorkshopsCall for Livable Center Study and Special Districts Study PartnersScenic Galveston's 28th Event: GLO Adopt-A-Beach-EstuaryTree & Wetland Plant Nursery Open HouseKPFT 90...
In This Issue

Upcoming Events

For more info and updated listings, visit the CEC calendar at
www.cechouston.org.

Tue., 9/16/14
Wed., 9/17/2014 
Thu., 9/18/2014 
Fri., 9/19/2014 
Sat., 9/20/2014 
Greetings!

CEC recently received a lovely letter from Justus Baird, a former CEC board member. Justus is now the dean at the Auburn Theological Seminary in NYC, where he works to train leaders for faith-rooted social justice work, including environmental issues. He writes that the Seminary is participating in the People's Climate March in New York on Saturday. The school had a strong role in the creation of a 'Noah's Ark' that will make an appearance.

Sometimes it is hard to consider things that are happening in New York, when we have so many environmental opportunities here in Houston. Nevertheless, the People's Climate March does merit our attention. Organizers are expecting over 100,000 people in NYC alone, in what is expected to be the largest climate march in history.

World leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, people will take to the streets to demand a world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

As you might imagine, I am delighted that the greater Houston environmental community will have at least some representation at the event. Are you planning to attend?

If you aren't heading to New York, you might want to participate in a local support event (please use the links to RSVP). The event listing is provided by 350.org, which is one of over 1000 organizations who are part of the event.

CEC Notes

Welcome new subscribers
Please welcome our new subscribers: Jimmy, Paige, Morgan, Caroline, Samantha, Alma, Julia, and Yaw. We're glad you joined out community!


Downtown Fall Fest
CEC will be at the free 2014 Downtown Fall Fest this Thursday, September 18, 2014, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, at 611 Walker. Come visit!

Re-enroll with Kroger
Each year, Kroger Shoppers must re-enroll with the community rewards program for CEC--and other nonprofits--can receive donation based on your purchases. Visit www.krogercommunityrewards.com to re-enroll. CEC's organization number is 91019.

Coalition NotesCoalitionNotes


The Future of Transportation in The Woodlands: What's Next?
September's Going Green Sustainability Lecture, sponsored by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., will focus on The Woodlands area's transportation issues. The Woodlands is facing major transportation challenges with the growing traffic levels that are accompanying new development in and around The Woodlands. This added traffic impacts air quality, noise levels, storm runoff, and public safety. Mike Bass, Director on The Woodlands Township Board, will provide an update about these conditions and options considered in two major studies launched in 2013. The lecture will be held on September 16, 2014, at 7pm at the South Regional Library. More at www.thewoodlands.net.


Sierra Club Evening Benefit Event
Gather with like-minded folks, enjoy good company, as well as some great appetizers, and donate to both the local Houston Regional Group Sierra Club and the Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club. The benefit will be held on September 17, 2014, 6:30-8:30pm at teh Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Hear from the new chapter Executive Director, Scheleen Walker, about past successes and upcoming challenges (including the next legislative session); as well Jennifer Walker, chapter Water Resources Coordinator about what we can't live without. Tickets are $30 for individuals and $50 for couples. Email art.browning@gmail.com for purchase and information.


A Story of Memorial Park: People in Nature
Please join the Memorial Park Conservancy on September 17, 2014, from 6pm to 8pm for a public update meeting about the current Memorial Park Master Planning process.  The evening will include a presentation by the master planning design team (Nelson Byrd Woltz - www.nbwla.com) and a Q & A session following the presentation.  Join the Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Uptown-Houston who are jointly leading the Memorial Park Long-Range Master Planning effort to learn about Memorial Park's soils, ecology, cultural history and preliminary design ideas for the park.  For more information, visit http://www.memorialparkconservancy.org/visit-memorial-park/calendar.html.


Houston Green Film Series: Come Hell or High Water. Houston Green Film Series will begin again for the fall semester, commencing with the documentary Come Hell or High Water. Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Evans and his family and neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice. Come out on September 17, 2014, at 6:30pm, to the Rice Media Center. A light dinner will be served, courtesy of Dr. Pat Speck and Dry Bones Cafe. The film is free to the public, though donations are suggested and kindly appreciated. Learn more and RSVP at the facebook event.


Clean Waters Initiative: Water Rights and Water Reuse
The next Clean Waters Initiative will be held on September 18, 2014, at 1:30pm in H-GAC Conference Room A, Second Floor. The topic will be Water Rights and Water Reuse. Subjects to be covered include Region H water supply, Environmental Flows, Rain Barrels, Desalination and Energy Production, and Water Conservation. You can register at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com. CWI offers workshops that help local governments, landowners, and citizens develop effective strategies to reduce pollution in our area waterways. For more information, contact Aubin Phillips at 832-681-2524.


Public Interest Design Institute at Rice School of Architecture
Through September 18, you can register at a reduced rate for the two-day Public Interest Design Institute at the Rice University School of Architecture. Nine national experts, pictured above, will present best practices and case studies in public interest design on October 4 and 5 in Room 117 in Anderson Hall. Navigate now to publicinterestdesign.com/houston to register!


Houston Speaks: My Houston 2040 Air Alliance Houston will present a cross-cultural, cross generational and cross-communal dialogue of issues voiced by eight Houston residents, with the aim of promoting "sameness" that exists throughout the Houston community. Networking begins at 5:30, with the show starting promptly at 6:00. Please rsvp to the Facebook Event Page for more information.

Native Plants at Home and Garden Show
Visit the Native Plant Society Display, booth 468, at the Texas Home and Garden Show in Houston on September 20-21 at the NRG Center (formerly Reliant Center).


Galveston Bay Foundation Rain Barrel Program
Rain barrels are an efficient, low-cost method for collecting rainwater. They are placed at downspouts in order to reduce runoff into storm drains, and can be used for watering a garden or houseplants, among many other uses. Come learn about rain barrels at Galveston Bay Foundation's Rain Barrel Workshop on September 20, 2014, from 2-4pm at the Brown Education Hall at the Houston Zoo. The cost is $30 per registration, which includes admission to the workshop, a 35-gallon recycled barrel, and a connector kit. All purchases are final and attendance at the workshop is required to receive a barrel and kit. Register at www.galvbay.org. There will be another workshop on October 4, 2014, 9:30-11:30am at the McGuire Dent Recreation Center in Galveston.


Xtreme Hummingbird Extravaganza. Autumn is hummingbird season in Texas, as thousands of these tiny creatures move through the state on their southward migration to Mexico and Central America. Join Gulf Coast Bird Observatory on September 20, 2014, to see hummingbirds being banded, adopt a hummingbird, browse the Nature Store, walk the nature trails, or buy a plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. More at http://gcbo.org.


Fifth Ward/Buffalo Bayou/East End Workshops
The Fifth Ward CRC, East End Management District, and Buffalo Bayou Partnership are launching a Livable Centers study that will create a plan to improve transportation and housing, create walkable and mixed-use places, and promote economic development.  We need your input so that the final plan reflects the vision of the community. The first half an hour will be for networking, and the discussion will start at 6:00pm. Come speak directly to members of the planning team to share your ideas and concerns for the neighborhood.
  • Fifth Ward workshop: Monday, Sept 22, 2014, 5:30-7:30 pm, The Silo, 4601 Clinton Drive 
  • East End workshop: Tuesday, Sept 23, 2014, 5:30-7:30 pm, HCC Felix Fraga Campus, 301 North Drennan St. 
  • Buffalo Bayou workshop: Saturday, Sept 27, 2014
    • 10:30 am -12:30 pm at Ripley House, 4410 Navigation Blvd.
    • 12:30 - 2:30 pm at Eastwood Park, 5020 Harrisburg Blvd.
For more information, visit the Facebook Page.  


Call for Livable Center Study and Special Districts Study Partners


The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) is seeking proposals from local governments or other eligible project sponsors to conduct Livable Centers and Special Districts planning studies.The objective of the Livable Centers planning studies is to help create quality, walkable, mixed-use places, create multi-modal travel choices, improve environmental quality, and promote economic development and housing choice. Study recommendations will ideally lead to locally sponsored Livable Centers projects for possible inclusion in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and future Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP). Note: this is not a request for funding proposals from consulting firms. Pre-submittal meeting: September 24, 2014. Deadline for notice of intent to apply: September 30, 2104. Learn more at www.h-gac.com.


Scenic Galveston's 28th Event: GLO Adopt-A-Beach-Estuary
SCENIC GALVESTON's wetlands partnership cleaning event with the General Land Office is fast approaching! It's time again for volunteers to step through and into the Tide to remove tons of debris, invasive plants, ugly objects from SG's estuarial habitat conservation preserves and shorelines. There will be on site registration between 8-9am. The cleanup will be held on September 27, 2014, 9am-noon. After, teams will return to the O'Quinn Pavillion for a custom lunch (required RSVP) with a lively report on latest habitat conservation work, team leader reports, and the day's bird count. Learn more at www.guidrynews.com.


Tree & Wetland Plant Nursery Open House
Trees for Houston and the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, in conjunction with the Clear Lake City Water Authority and the Exploration Green Conservancy, are holding a joint open house for the tree and wetland nurseries at Exploration Green, October 4, 2014, 9am-12pm. Tours will be offered and information provided about volunteer opportunities in the nurseries, which are growing trees and plants for the conservation and recreation area in Clear Lake City. The nurseries are accessible from the trail that heads northeast from the bridge on Neptune Lane, approximately 2 ½ blocks north of Bay Area Blvd. Learn more at www.explorationgreen.org.


KPFT 90.1 Tennis Fun Fest
Come out to the Homer Ford Tennis Center on October 11, 2014, for a fun day of tennis! This event will be hosted by KPFT 90.1. The day begins at 8:30am with a 45-minute clinic led by tennis star Lori McNeil (formerly ranked #9 in the world) and her coach and mentor, John Wilkerson. There will be 3 levels of play: Youth to age 16; Adult: Novice; Adult Intermediate/Advanced. The matches will be twenty minutes. This day will be fun for the whole family! Come out for music, food, playground, and auction. Spectators are welcome! Find out more at  http://kpft.org


Houston Canoe Club turns 50!!!
October 11, 2014, 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm, at the Bay Area Community Center, 5002 East NASA Parkway, Seabrook. The HCC 50th Anniversary Flotilla will paddle from the launch site to Horsepen Bayou and back, a distance of about 4 miles. Help getting your boat off and back on your vehicle and to the docks will be available. Any decorations including flags, which will be available for the first 50 or so boats on the scene, will make this HCC 50 Boat Flotilla an attractive and notable newsworthy event. The launch is set for 3pm, so, be sure to arrive around 2pm to allow enough time to prepare and launch your boat.


Save the Date! Friends of Woodland Park Trails at Twilight
For 100 years, Woodland Park has provided Houstonians a haven of natural beauty.  Help us preserve this precious resource for coming generations by joining in the celebration.  Our wish list includes: park benches, playground equipment, trail signage, foot bridges, game tables and much more.  There will be live music, a silent auction, bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres. October 17, 2014. www.friendsofwoodlandpark.org.


Southeast Houston Community Affected by Toxic Waste
Air Alliance Houston reports: "Last month, after almost four years of public outcry, the EPA finally agreed to begin cleaning up an abandoned industrial waste facility in southeast Houston. The waste was left there by CES Environmental Services Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after being fined $1.5 million for countless safety violations." Read more.

school_bus.jpg
Houston Anti-Idling Ordinance Petition
Idling from diesel engines creates air pollution and health risks all over the city. From the scores of trucks lined up in neighborhoods around the ship channel to school buses waiting to bring our children home for the day, it is safe to say that all of us are adversely affected by this issue. Help Air Alliance Houston gain traction on an Anti-Idling Ordinance in Houston by signing the petition today! Lean more about anti-idling programs for our region from the H-GAC Engine Off Program

Additional Upcoming Events 

Community Notes

Natural History and Aesthetics - Why Should We Care About Nature?
Harry Greene, Ph.D., Cornell, Monday, September 22, 6:30 pm, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Public $18, CEC members* $13, Museum members $12. The diversity of life on Earth is under serious threats from multiple human-related causes, and science plays well-known roles in addressing management aspects of this problem. Dr. Harry W. Greene will describe how natural history also plays a vital role in enhancing our appreciation for organisms and environments, thereby influencing value judgments that ultimately underlie all conservation. I will first explain how an 18th  century philosopher's distinction between "beauty" and "sublime" can be used in the context of Darwin's notion of "descent with modification," then illustrate this approach with frogs, snakes, African megafauna, Longhorns, and California Condors. Dr. Harry Greene is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. He is a popular author and will be signing copies of his latest book Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art following the lecture. This lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is co-sponsored by Rice University's Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Register at hmns.org.  * For discount code, CEC members should contact news@cechouston.org or call 713-524-4232.

Double Bayou Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop
The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources | Texas Water Resources Institute
and the Double Bayou Watershed Partnership invite you to attend the Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop on September 24, 2014 from 8am - 4pm at White's Park Community Building an Hankamer/Anahuac. Learn more about the riparian workshop, and register by Sept. 19, 2014.

2014-2015 Energy Symposium Series: Critical Issues in Energy
The second annual Energy Symposium Series will be held on September 30, 2014, 5:30-8pm at the University of Houston. The topic of this event is US Energy Independence: Good for the Nation? Guest speakers include Edward Chow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ed Hirs, Hillhouse Resources LLC and University of Houston, and Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska. The event will be moderated by Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media. This is a free event. Visit  www.eventbrite.com to register.

Coastal Resiliency Conference: Living on the Edge
Texas Medical Branch's Center in Environmental Toxicology, is organizing a three day conference on coastal resilience scheduled for October 8-10, 2014. This conference will provide a platform to discuss the challenges and strategies for building and preserving a resilient Gulf Coast. Attendees will explore the connections between the natural environment and the cultural heritage of coastal populations. The cost is $120, and $25 for students. Register at www.galvestonhistory.org.

Captain Planet Foundation Small Grant
The Captain Planet Foundation primarily makes grants to U.S.-based schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million. Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and MUST have all three of the following to be considered for funding: be project based; projects must be performed by youth; and projects must have real environmental outcomes. Captain Planet Foundation will accept small grant requests for amounts between $500 - $2,500. Preferential consideration is given to requests who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. The application for spring and summer projects is September 30, 2014, and January 31, 2015, for fall and winter projects. Read more and apply at http://captainplanetfoundation.org.

Children's Environmental Health Institute's Scientific Symposium
Biennial Scientific Symposium. Register now for the Children's Environmental Health Institute's Eight Biennial Scientific Symposium: Prenatal Environmental Exposures as a Determinant of Early Childhood Disease. Hear global experts challenge us to elevate critical  thinking on ways to address the prevention of environmental health risks to children. Keynote speakers Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, and Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD, among other distinguished speakers will provide prevention-oriented research on how toxic chemicals in the environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies, and are associated with numerous health problems and chronic disease. The symposium will be held November 13-14, 2014, at McKinney Roughs Education Center, close to Austin Texas. Learn more and register at http://cehi.org

Save the Date: Texas Wildlife & Woodland Expo
Last year, over 5,000 families, scouts, and adults attended the daylong event. 150 educational booths, classes, hands-on clinic, exhibitors, and activities on the campus of Lone Star College-Montgomery. Free. Visit expo.tamu.edu for more information and booth information. March 28, 2015.

Additional Dates of Note

TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3:00 PM each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD's YouTube Page.

Air Quality Forecastair
http://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/monops/forecast_today.html. Houston Clean Air Network and Realtime Ozone Mapping: http://houstoncleanairnetwork.com.
  • September 16, 2014: Green--Good. Moderate winds, lower incoming background levels, and/or cloud cover should help to keep air quality in the "Good" range.
  • September 17, 2014: Green--Good. Moderate winds and lower incoming background levels, and/or cloud cover with precipitation should help to keep air quality in the "Good" range.
  • September 18, 2014: Green--Good. Moderate winds and lower incoming background levels, and/or cloud cover with precipitation should help to keep air quality in the "Good" range.
  • September 19, 2014: Green--Good. Moderate winds and lower incoming background levels, and/or cloud cover with precipitation should help to keep air quality in the "Good" range.

News HeadlinesEcoNotes

Cody Duty/Chronicle Staff
(Harvey Rice - Houston Chronicle, 9/7/2014) Galveston tax collector-assessor Cheryl Johnson has seen lawsuits by oil companies suck millions of dollars out of local government coffers in recent years. The Republican officeholder watched as Valero used a quirk in tax law to twice win lawsuits forcing the Texas City school district to refund taxes. Valero is still suing for even more tax refunds. When Marathon Petroleum Corp. recently used the same tax law to sue for a reduction in property taxes for one of the country's largest refineries, Johnson vowed to try to convince legislators to do something about a problem she estimates is costing local governments about $1 billion annually.  www.houstonchronicle.com

Houston getting $10 million for traffic tracking systems
(Houston Chronicle, 9/10/2014) An ongoing project to expand and upgrade traffic systems in the Houston area has received $10 million from a highly-competitive federal transportation program, officials confirmed. Though it won't build a new road or add another bus route, officials said the money will improve traffic by bolstering Houston's transportation monitoring system, which relays traffic information to drivers and helps city workers address congestion. The money gives Houston officials another $10 million to invest in work already going on around the area to upgrade or add traffic monitoring data, city of Houston public works spokesman Alvin Wright said.
http://blog.chron.com 


Houston offers sweet deal on park to Sugar Land
(Mike Morris - Houston Chronicle, 9/5/2014) In the 25 years since the city of Houston and the Houston Parks Board purchased Cullinan Park off Highway 6 near U.S. 90A, creating the city's fourth-largest park, the site has languished. Far outside Houston city limits next to Sugar Land Regional Airport, the park boasts just one entrance road, some picnic tables, and a few hiking trails to complement the wooden walkways overlooking White Lake, abuzz with dragonflies and coated with lily pads. "This is a great resource out here, but it has a long way to go before you can really call it a good all-purpose park," said Don Gallo, local resident and park regular. Houston is now considering transferring responsibility for the park to the city of Sugar Land.
www.houstonchronicle.com

James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle
Planning for future water use a conundrum for Houston
(Matthew Tresaugue - Houston Chronicle) Beneath Houston, miles of the city's aging water mains are leaking billions of gallons each year. The repairs will require years of work and millions of dollars. So what's a city to do? Houston is raising the possibility of a new rate structure as the city finalizes the first update to its conservation plan since enduring the worst one-year drought in its history in 2011.
www.houstonchronicle.com

More Headlines at Scoop.it
CEC has collected even more headlines at scoop.it

GreGreenJobsen Jobs


NEW! Nature Discovery Center seeks Executive Director
The Executive Director of the Nature Discovery Center (NDC) is responsible for managing all aspects of the Nature Discovery Center's operations through strong, creative, and strategic leadership. The ED builds consensus, stimulates staff development, and delivers results related to the organization's mission and goals. The ED is responsible for effective implementation of policies set by the Board of Directors as well as annual goals and objectives related to fiscal management, programming, and administration. For view the job description, visit www.cechouston.org. Learn more about the Nature Discovery Center at www.naturediscoverycenter.org.


NEW! Artist Boat seeks Accounting Manager
The Accounting Manager is primarily responsible for assisting the Executive Director and Treasurer with the financial management of the organization. The Accounting Manager is required to have a formal and strong foundation in accounting, best practices in financial management, grants management and grants reimbursements, and nonprofit accounting. The purpose of this position is to provide the financial management infrastructure to maintain and grow all programs, track and report on all finances regarding grants and accounts, assure educational program staff have the proper support for procurement of materials and equipment needed for programs, assist the Executive Director with financial management of all funds, and process payroll. The Accounting Manager reports to the Executive Director, participates in the board of directors' finance committee, and maintains a positive roll in communicating with all members of the board of directors and staff. If interested, submit resume, cover letter, and three professional references via United States Postal Service to Karla Klay, Executive Director, 2415 Avenue K, Galveston, Texas 77550. View the full job description at www.artistboat.org.


NEW! The Nature Discovery Center seeks Weekend Naturalist
The Nature Discovery Center is looking for an energetic and enthusiastic individual to join its education team: someone who loves science, nature, and children. This part-time position manages the weekend operations of the Center, with a focus on visitor services and education. Major responsibilities include: oversee the Center on Saturdays & Sundays, 9am-5:30pm (flexible); provide interactive, hands-on experiences in our science-based Discovery Rooms; update materials and curriculum in the Discovery Rooms as needed, with additional staff support; conduct birthday party programs with nature themed topics; conduct nature experiences such as nature walks and talks, as needed; manage weekend volunteers; manage animal care; and be a crucial member of the team, attending staff planning meetings as available. To apply for the Weekend Naturalist position, please provide a short cover letter and resume to Anne Eisner, Program Coordinator, at aeisner@naturediscoverycenter.org. Learn more about the Center at naturediscoverycenter.org.


NEW! Cypresswood Water Conservation Garden seeks Part-time Webmaster
This part-time position would be the webmaster for the Water District andCypresswood Water Conservation Garden. Requirements include being acreative individual who is willing to think outside the box when it comes to web design and educating John Q. Must have interest in water conservation/healthy soil nexus, and a background in environmental awareness, biology, water conservation, soil conservation critical. 3+ years professional experience in web development/management is preferred. Applicants must provide a portfolio with examples of past work on multiple sites, advanced working knowledge of multiple web CMS software systems (special consideration given to candidates who are adept in WordPress). Applicants must also have expert experience with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript/jQuery and SQL, as well as a basic understanding/familiarity with XML, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, PHP (for WordPress) or other programming technologies. Experience with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator a plus. Send resumes and questions to Gary Toll at gtoll@wcid132.com or Jim Dow at jdow@wcid132.com. Learn more about the Cypresswood Water Conservation Garden at www.cwcgtx.com.

NEW! Southern Alliance for Clean Energy seeks Solar Power Program Manager & Energy Policy Staff (Tennessee)
The successful candidate will have several years of experience working on policy, development or procurement of solar power in the electric power sector. The applicant must demonstrate solid skills in most of the following areas: writing, public speaking, analytic and computer applications. Experience with state agencies, decision-makers, media, or non-profit advocacy necessary. More info at cleanenergy.org.


The Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) seeks a full-time Grants Billing Specialist to fulfill reimbursement billing duties related to GBF's government grants, accounts payable, and accounts receivable as a member of the Administrative Team. Qualifications include a bachelor's degree in Accounting (received or in progress), ability to pass an intermediate level accounting test, and experience with QuickBooks financial software (preferred, not required). For a full job description, including duties and qualifications, please visit the GBF website. To apply, please e-mail resume by September 19 to jtownsend@galvbay.org.


BikeHouston seeks three new staff members: Development Director, Director of Government and Community Affairs, and Marketing/Communication Associate
Development: This person will lead the development effort and build a multi-faceted approach to raising income to support our programs and advocacy work. They will have an entrepreneurial style and build a dynamic development program to diversify and expand BikeHouston's revenue. The primary responsibilities will be to secure new foundation grants and corporate sponsorship, and increase the number of individual donors and members. Additional responsibilities will include growing our membership as well as convert members into donors. The new staffer will bring structure, systems, creativity, positive energy and a track record of fundraising to the job.

Government & Community Affairs:
The position is responsible for identifying, monitoring and shaping policy initiatives within the city and county governments, management districts and super neighborhoods which relate to the BikeHouston mission. S/he helps communicate and advance the mission and goals to governmental programs through direct engagement with the Mayor's office, City Council Members, COH Health Department, Parks & Recreation Department, the Planning Department, and Houston Police Department, as well as related regional governmental and non-governmental organizations.The position is also responsible for identifying and securing public funding and monitoring policy initiatives within the city, state and federal levels of government, with the support of the Director of Development.

Marketing/Communications Associate
:The position begins as soon as possible and ends after 4 months, when an evaluation of eligibility for a renewal may be considered. You'll be expected to ask a lot of questions, but also to think independently. There's not a lot of room for passivism. You'll need to be proactive and pretty on top of your day-to-day to succeed here. The benefit of this is that this position can be as big or small of an experience as you let it. The position begins as soon as possible and ends after 4 months, when an evaluation of eligibility for a renewal may be considered. You'll be expected to ask a lot of questions, but also to think independently. You'll need to be proactive and pretty on top of your day-to-day to succeed here. The benefit of this is that this position can be as big or small of an experience as you let it.

The positions will remain open until filled. The positions may be full or part-time.  Substantial flexibility around working hours and vacation may be offered for outstanding candidates.  The positions do require some work on weekends and during the evenings given the stakeholders we serve. Complete job descriptions are available at www.bikehouston.org/jobs/.


Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Nature Tourism Program seeks Associate
Associate will act as on site manager and Assistant to the Director. In this capacity the Extension Associate will provide day to day management of the Long Acres Ranch Nature Center property and programs. All programs and development of new programs and facilities will be guided by an existing plan of action developed as part of the service contract with the foundation that owns Long Acres Ranch and is supporting this project. This person will be responsible for implementing the existing action plan, leading tours and education programs, recruiting and managing volunteers and potentially future paid staff as hiring becomes feasible. This person will be responsible for budgets and community relations, on going data collection, visitor evaluations and regular activity reports. This person will work closely with the Fort Bend County Extension office staff to support 4H Youth Natural Resource program, Adult volunteer programs and natural resource educational programs. Please fill out the online form to apply.


Memorial Park Conservancy seeks Administrative Assistant
The Administrative Assistant position for Memorial Park Conservancy (MPC) provides administrative support to the office, with a focus on supporting the Executive Director. This position manages and maintains the Executive Director's schedule, and supports all office and administrative functions and programs. The Administrative Assistant provides support to the Board of Directors and committees as determined by the Executive Director. Essential job functions include: creating and modifying meeting notifications, and sending and responding to invitations; attending Board and select committee meetings, taking minutes, and preparing final summaries; answering and returning phone calls and emails; greeting visitors and providing general information about the organization; routing, managing, and preparing responses to public inquiries and requests; and more. If interested, submit resume, two writing samples, and one letter of reference to info@memorialparkconservancy.org. Full job description: MPC Administrative Assistant.


Houston Audubon seeks Development Administrative Assistant
The mission of Houston Audubon is to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments. Our vision is the creation of a healthier, natural environment and more beautiful place to live by leading and nurturing a community which values and supports birds. The Development Administrative Assistant (the Admin) provides critical office support to the Development Department. Advance the mission of Houston Audubon by executing a high level of donor and member related services by providing essential administrative support including data entry and external correspondence. The Admin is responsible for data entry as it pertains to gifts processing, providing all donors and members with formal receipts, gift acknowledgements, welcome packets, written correspondences, general service calls and performing other administrative tasks as needed. This position reports to the Development Director and will remain open until filled. Essential duties include: carrying out all aspects of development administrative work including data entry, basic record keeping, research, reporting, mailing/emailing correspondence and from time to time calling constituents; assisting with annual gala and other events as deemed appropriate by the Development Director; recommending member and annual fund prospects to the Fund Development Officer and major gift prospects to the Development Director; and working cooperatively and collaboratively with all Houston Audubon staff, board, and volunteers in the spirit of teamwork and mutual respect that complies with all Houston Audubon policies. Full job description: Development Admin Asst Aug 2014.


Travis Audubon (Austin, TX) seeks Executive Director
Travis Audubon (Austin, Texas) is seeking a dynamic Executive Director to lead the organization through a time of growth and change. Founded in 1952, Travis Audubon promotes the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of native birds and their habitats. The organization is an independent chapter of National Audubon and serves over 1,200 members within a four-county region consisting of Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Milam counties.  Travis Audubon owns and manages three nature preserves - Baker (690 acres), Chaetura Canyon (10 acres), and Blair Woods (10 acres).  With an annual budget of approximately $300,000, 3 full-time and 3 contract staff, and scores of skilled volunteers, Travis Audubon conducts both formal and informal programs in schools, public venues, at events, and at its sanctuaries. Last year, the organization's vital land conservation work, environmental education programs, and community outreach influenced over 432,000 people. Executive Director duties include, but are not limited to administration and management, policy development, fund raising, strategic planning, public relations, membership growth, financial health, and cultivating new and existing funding and program opportunities. For more information about the position: http://travisaudubon.org/job-opportunities. To apply, please submit a resume and cover letter, including salary requirements, to ed@travisaudubon.org. Both documents are required and must be submitted in .doc or .pdf format. Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. September 12, 2014.


Hermann Park Conservancy seeks Horticulturist, Gardener, Irrigation Technician, Maintenance Coordinator, and Maintenance Staff.
The McGovern Centennial Gardens (MCG) in Hermann Park will be a unique display garden and destination, free to the public, open daily, and available for special events on occasion. It is a place of beauty designed to stimulate learning and a love of gardens in an urban setting. Join a dedicated staff responsible for the daily operation of the garden, to ensure the highest standards of landscape displays, and to implement environmentally responsible maintenance practices. Interested applicants should submit the following via e-mail to jcurtis@hermannpark.org: (a) cover letter explaining interest in the position, (b) current resume, and (c) two references including contact information. No phone calls, please. Full job descriptions:  http://www.hermannpark.org/employment-opportunities/.


Air Alliance Houston seeks Texas Coal Organizer
Air Alliance Houston (AAH) and Public Citizen are members of the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition (CGCC), which works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and impacts to local communities and environments through a reduction of coal exports in multiple U.S. Gulf Coast states. The organizer will be based in Houston and will be an employee of Air Alliance Houston. They will help build the grassroots movement within Texas, and coordinate with the overall efforts of the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition. Responsibilities include: building grassroots support against coal terminal expansions and against coal exports; working with activists and elected officials to win state and local support calling for a stop to coal terminal expansions, transportation restrictions, and closure of existing facilities; organizing trainings and convening stakeholders to present the cast to stop coal terminal expansion and limit the transportation of coal in the state; and more. Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Interested applicants should send resume and cover letter to hiring@airalliancehouston.org. Find the full description at http://airalliancehouston.org or Texas Coal Organizer job description.


The Woods Project seeks Club Program Instructor
The Club Program extends The Woods Project mission (visit www.thewoodsproject.org for more information) into the classroom building leadership and life skills through hands-on projects and activities. Utilizing both individual and team-based skills and frameworks, Club Program breaks down outdoor, social, environmental, and scientific concepts into exciting and hands-on units such as Leave No Trace, camping/backpacking skills, local flora and fauna, conservation, governance, and environmental science. Students participating in the club program are highly encouraged and often required to attend weekend camping trips and a two-week Summer Trip to a wilderness site such as Yosemite National Park. The club program instructor will be responsible for representing TWP and the mission as mentors and teachers for approximately 20 low-income, high school students per club; building and maintaining yearlong mentor relationships with students; traveling to a school and conduct clubs for an hour, sometimes longer; working with TWP curriculum requirements and suggestions to adapt and deliver existing lesson plans; and more. To apply please send cover letter and resume to katie@thewoodsproject.org. View the full job description: 2014-15 Club Instructor Job Description.


Urban Harvest Seeks After-School Garden Educators
Are you passionate about growing healthy communities in urban areas? Have you ever wanted to improve your vegetable gardening skills but wasn't sure how? Do you have experience working with kids who might be just as excited as you are about eating fresh from the garden? Do you have a few hours a week to spend in a school garden with students? If you answered, "yes" to any of these questions, then you're the type of Garden Educator that our Youth Garden program likes to grow! This is a part time contract position. Starting dates in August and September. Training is included. Find the full job description at http://urbanharvest.org. Urban Harvest promotes healthy communities,  sound nutrition and respect for the environment by educating children and adults and facilitating harvest and habitat gardens. 


Galveston Bay Foundation seeks Land Stewardship Specialist
The Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) seeks a full-time Land Stewardship Specialist to work within our Land and Habitat Conservation Program. The Land Stewardship Specialist will provide assistance with and develop land conservation transactions, update and implement habitat management and stewardship plans, seek out and apply for habitat conservation and management grants, monitor conservation easements and draft annual reports, and assist with habitat restoration and enhancement projects. Qualifications include a Bachelor's degree in a field of study such as environmental management, natural resources management, rangeland management, wildlife biology, environmental law, or another related field; a minimum of two years of professional experience; and a passion for land conservation and habitat management. To view the job description, including a full list of duties and qualifications, please visit galvbay.org.  To apply, please email resume to jobs@galvbay.org by August 31, 2014.


Buffalo Bayou Partnership seeks Buffalo Bayou Park Maintenance Technician
The Maintenance Technician performs many necessary functions. The skills to keep machines, mechanical/motorized equipment, tools/devices and structures in good repair and good working order by inspecting, testing, repairing. Diagnose, correct and/or identify problems, malfunctions or safety concerns. Read and interpret maintenance manuals, service bulletins, and other specifications/regulations to problem solve. Have the ability to determine the method of repairing or replacing malfunctioning items that may be damaged. Identify unsafe components. Ensure that all safety rules and regulations are followed involving all machinery and equipment as well as other safety requirements of regulatory agencies. Maintain a clean and orderly work area that pertains to maintenance responsibilities. To apply, submit resume and cover letter to Mr. Gregg Burks, Park Director / Buffalo Bayou Partnership / 1113 Vine St, Suite 215 or to gburks@buffalobayou.org. Maintenance Technician 2014 Job Description


Nature Discovery Center seeks part-time Bookkeeper
The Nature Discovery Center is a non-profit organization with a mission to ignite lifelong curiosity, understanding, and respect for nature through education. This part-time position manages the financial and administrative responsibilities of the Nature Discovery Center. For a more detailed description of specific responsibilities, please visit www.naturediscoverycenter.org. To apply for this position, please send a brief cover letter and resume to Sarah Flournoy, Executive Director, or bring it by the Center in person 7112 Newcastle, Bellaire, TX 77401.

ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
This weekly update is brought to you by the Citizens' Environmental Coalition, established as a 501(c)3 in 1971. CEC is a coalition of over 100 environmental organizations dedicated to fostering dialogue, education, and collaboration on environmental issues in the Houston / Gulf Coast region. Visit the CEC online at www.cechouston.org.

Do you know of something great going on? News? Events? Accomplishments? Jobs? Let us know! Send submittals to news@cechouston.org. If possible, send information by Friday for inclusion the following Tuesday. We especially like short paragraphs, catchy titles, third person, and links to more information, but we will work with whatever you send us. Calendar items can be submitted up to two years in advance. We are always looking for volunteers to help keep our calendar up to date.

Sincerely,

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Stephanie Hernandez, Communications Coordinator
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Posted: September 17, 2014 9:56   Go to blog
Neighbor to Neighbor News: We have something to celebrate!September 10, 2014 12:04
HCA Celebrates 10 years of great work!
September 4, 2014



Dear HCA Supporters:   Ten years ago today, a small group of Hill Country citizens gathered in my home to talk about development, water supply, and other threats to our beloved Hill Country. The inviting email to that meeting read: “We’ve all talked about the idea of getting the various interest groups out here together to form a coalition and unite our causes...
HCA Celebrates 10 years of great work!
September 4, 2014



Dear HCA Supporters:  
Ten years ago today, a small group of Hill Country citizens gathered in my home to talk about development, water supply, and other threats to our beloved Hill Country. The inviting email to that meeting read: “We’ve all talked about the idea of getting the various interest groups out here together to form a coalition and unite our causes. I think now is the time to take action.”

This occurred at a time when LCRA was proposing major waterlines into the unincorporated areas of Hays, Travis, Blanco and Burnet Counties—where rules were weak or non-existent regarding development density, water supply planning, land use compatibility, water quality protection, groundwater management, roadside billboards, and night sky lighting. The costs and consequences were alarming.

While the LCRA board ultimately approved the water line expansion plans, the foundation was laid for the need and mission of the Hill Country Alliance at that first meeting on September 4th, 2004. We moved forward to become recognized as official 501c3 non-profit on December 5th 2005 and we haven’t slowed down since.

Our purpose has always been to align people and organizations, to build relationships and support one another throughout the larger Hill Country region. Three core goals drive our purpose: (1) to protect water quality and supply; (2) to preserve open space; and (3) to promote responsible growth in the Hill Country.

People ask me all the time how things are going at HCA, and my answer is always, “Wonderful!” Not because we have won or succeeded in protecting water supply, heritage ranch lands and all the precious and unique features of the Hill Country, but “wonderful” because HCA has united the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a difference every day.

Together we are advancing good science, stewardship, innovation, policy, and community involvement. We understand that while the challenges we face are enormous, we have an opportunity to create change, and we have a responsibility to become involved in shaping the future of this great region.

Today, HCA is led by a dedicated group of 17 HCA board members and more than 130 advisors, team members, and volunteers, and five staff members. Nine thousand supporters receive our regular HCA news feeds. Diverse educational events regularly draw 100 or more attendees. Our reach extends throughout 17 counties from Austin to San Antonio and west to Junction covering more than 11 million acres. We have grown up over these past ten years, and our base of support is far and wide and diverse.

The people that have built this organization are passionate and generous, and while I can never thank them all here, I feel I must recognize and express gratitude to some.

Pam Reese was our first board president, followed by Karen Ford, Damian Priour, Nell Penridge, Ira Yates, Carolyn Chipman Evans and Sky Lewey. HCA is now led by Milan J. Michalec of Boerne, TX.

All of these leaders remain involved in HCA today, with the exception of our dear friend Damian Priour who has since passed away and will be forever loved and missed. We have lost two other significant inspirations, Kent Butler and Charles O’Dell. We will always honor and draw from the wisdom and spirit of these three amazing individuals.

Pam Reese and Bob Ayres were the first major donors to put their faith in the HCA mission, and we are beyond grateful as both continue to support and guide HCA today.

Ira Yates has individually supported HCA with his presence, commitment, support, and vision since day one—actually since before day one. Ira deserves much of the credit for who HCA has become, and he continues to push HCA to be stronger and more effective.

Karen Ford and Karen Huber, both current board members, have demonstrated that there comes a time when the clear path to change is to actually run for public office. Both of these leaders ran and won county commissioner races and have remained active in leading HCA on water issues.

David Baker, Ann Newman, Leo Tynan, Pepper Morris, Mary Sanger, Mike Reese, Bill Neiman, Ric Sternberg, David K. Langford, Mary Kelly, these are but a few of the many mentors, supporters and leaders who have nurtured this organization. More recently Sharlene Leurig, Garry Merritt and a new generation of leaders have emerged. Clearly HCA has a rock solid foundatio
n and is here to stay.

We almost never make an “ask” for donations via email, but today we calling for HCA Birthday Presents! Please show your support, help us celebrate and donate to HCA today. 
Thank you for an amazing ten year ride – and now, to the future!
Christy Muse
Executive Director
Hill Country Alliance

HCA’s 2014 Board of Directors: President Milan J. Michalec, Leo Tyan, Karen Huber, Paul Sumrall, David Baker, David Clear, Pete Dwyer, Carolyn Chipman Evans, Karen Ford, Chris Hale, Kathleen Krueger, Sharlene Leurig, Sky Lewey, Garry Merritt, Bill Neiman, Sarah Schlessinger and Ira Yates.

HCA Staff: Christy Muse, Katherine Romans, Charlie Flatten, Shannon Chambers and Sheila Holt.


The Mission of the Hill Country Alliance is to bring together an ever-expanding alliance of groups throughout a multi-county region of Central Texas with the long-term objective of preserving open spaces, water supply, water quality and the unique character of the Texas Hill Country.



Photo: Karen Bruett

Posted: September 10, 2014 12:04   Go to blog
Becoming Drought TolerantSeptember 10, 2014 12:03
Central Texas looks for ways to balance population growth with future water suppliesBy Lizzie Jespersen, Fri., Aug. 29, 2014Photo by John AndersonIn an August 1886 issue of the Kentucky newspaper Bourbon News, a journalist wrote, "The drought in Texas is so intense that potatoes are cooked in the ground, and all the people have to do is dig and eat them. The workmen carry salt in their pockets and don't have to go home to dinner."

Flash forward about 60 years...

Central Texas looks for ways to balance population growth with future water supplies

By Lizzie Jespersen, Fri., Aug. 29, 2014

Becoming Drought Tolerant
Photo by John Anderson
In an August 1886 issue of the Kentucky newspaper Bourbon News, a journalist wrote, "The drought in Texas is so intense that potatoes are cooked in the ground, and all the people have to do is dig and eat them. The workmen carry salt in their pockets and don't have to go home to dinner."

Flash forward about 60 years. In his narrative chronicle of the Fifties Texas drought of record, The Time It Never Rained, author Elmer Kelton recalled, "Ranchers watched waterholes recede to brown puddles of mud that their livestock would not touch. They watched the rank weeds shrivel as the west wind relentlessly sought them out and smothered them with its hot breath. They watched the grass slowly lose its green, then curl and fire up like dying cornstalks."

Today, another 60 years later, drought continues to be a recurring theme in Texas. But in booming Austin and the surrounding areas of Central Texas, the ongoing drought is not one of classic Western imagery that is simultaneously wretched and romantic.
The portrait of our drought reveals a city whose population influx could threaten to overtake its water supply; it shows lakeside residents and businesses closing their doors to the beached buoys and docks that used to beckon customers by boat; and it tells the story of homes and lives ravaged by wildfire.

Race Against Time

Texas is no stranger to drought – its history is a saga of drought and recovery, a pattern that is indigenous to the state and would run its course even without a human footprint. And despite climate change, we are not certainly seeing a long-term spike in drought conditions. According to State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, there are no clear indications in the trend of Texas' drought patterns that the severity and frequency of drought has increased – in fact, he said, there were more droughts prior to 1970. But there's one key difference between pre-Seventies Central Texas and today: us. With a rapidly expanding population and no signs of deceleration in sight, Austin's demand for water has become a race against time.
"Water supply contains a combo of [meteorological conditions] and population," Nielsen-Gammon said. "If this had taken place in 1990, we probably would have had much better water supply than we have now. ... In terms of per capita, with water availability we are basically back to where we were in the Sixties."

Central Texas' current drought has earned a ranking of one of the 10 worst droughts in the last 500 years, and based on the past four years has likely also claimed the title of the second-worst drought on record, said Nielsen-Gammon.

But what does the future look like, even if it is too early to affirm any overarching trend of an increase or decrease in drought conditions?

Brian Hunt of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District measures spring flow just below Barton Springs Pool.
Brian Hunt of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer 
Conservation District measures spring flow just below 
Barton Springs Pool.              Photo by Jana Birchum
Nielsen-Gammon said Central Texas' long-term precipitation has been positive, with increases of about 10% per century – though he is unsure whether this trend will continue. The area has also seen a spike in temperature, especially in recent dec­ades. "Historically, [precipitation and rising temperatures] are competing influences on drought," he said. "It seems very likely temperature will continue to rise, so that should lead to an increase in drought frequency and severity."

While residents play a part in the drought through a combination of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and through the added demands that plumbing, irrigation, and daily living place on the water supply, the biggest influence on Central Texas drought is beyond human control. Natural variations in climate temperature and behavior have existed cyclically since the beginning of time. Experts have analyzed our current drought through the lens of such climate patterns – according to Nielsen-Gammon, the overlap of two specific climate trends, called Pacific Decadal Oscil­lation and Atlantic Multi­dec­adal Oscillation, is largely responsible – but even those of us without a doctorate can see proof of a larger climate change cycle in the form of ice ages and, on a smaller level, Texas' unshakable tendency toward drought.

The Human Scale

The concept that the occurrence of drought is a natural and inextricable part of this world, and Texas in particular, is an important one. For the layman, however, an understanding of drought comes down to one thing: water availability. While temperature variations and precipitation may be largely at the hands of some greater climatic or even geological power, the human demand for water does affect the availability of what is not an infinitely available resource. A comprehension of where water comes from, and where it is going, is especially valuable on a regional and local level. Two different bodies largely supply Central Texas water: the Highland Lakes and Edwards Aquifer. The Highland Lakes – Buchanan, Inks, Lady Bird, Marble Falls, Travis, and Austin – were formed by a series of dams and are managed by the LCRA, which contracts 424,602 acre-feet of water from the lakes to 3,984 customers (as of May 1, 2014). Lake Travis provides the city of Austin with its water supply for utilities and construction, and has been the most visibly drained by recent drought conditions of all the Highland Lakes. Lake Travis currently holds 393,264 acre-feet of water – just 35% of its storage level when full.

Getting By and Making Do

John Hofmann, whose title at the Lower Colorado River Authority is executive vice president of water, said the agency is involved in many conservation projects for these lakes, with a full-time conservation staff that works on developing ways to address the issue. Over the years, LCRA has granted several hundred thousand dollars to conservation projects, and has held irrigation evaluation sessions and worked with stakeholders such as the Home Builders Assoc­i­a­tion and golf courses to coordinate conservation efforts. "We basically manage water for the drought," Hofmann said. "If you're not in drought, you're looking for the next one."

Still, critics of LCRA, from the grassroots level to the Legislature, fault the agency for not responding sooner, and for failing to conserve the region's water supply at the height of the drought in 2011, when it released enormous amounts of water downstream to rice farmers. Many of these downstream farmers have since been cut off from the Highland Lakes water supply.

The Edwards Aquifer is a groundwater resource that re-entered a Stage II Alarm Drought on Aug. 18, after a brief water conservation period that began June 27, according to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, which regulates groundwater pumping. The district, which manages both the Edwards and Trinity aquifers, has walked the line between drought and conservation periods for several years. BSEACD Education Coordinator Robin Havens Gary said these fluctuations are simply the nature of aquifers.

"Central Texas has a lot of what people call periods of drought interrupted by periodic floods, and that's what is reflected by water levels," Gary said. "It's not something that has just happened. Droughts have been occurring in our area for a long time. The drought declarations allow us to have a coordinated water conservation plan, so everyone can get on board and help conserve and preserve the water that we have until it starts raining again, and then the aquifer will get replenished."

Becoming Drought TolerantFor many aquifers, it takes hundreds or even thousands of years for rainwater to reach and recharge them. By comparison, water is able to make its way into Edwards Aquifer very quickly, making it a special case in Texas. Still, Edwards Aquifer and the BSEACD supply 60,000 people throughout Hays, Travis, and Caldwell counties, who rely on the aquifer as their sole source of water, according to Gary. Many of these peoples' wells have been dry for years.For the past two years, Artie Berne has had water delivered to his home in unincorporated Travis County, just outside of Lakeway, where he lives with his wife and two pets. Ever since his well's water table dried out and fell below the pump's intake level, a water truck has brought 2,000-gallon water deliveries to Berne's home every five to six weeks. Berne said going from free water to paid deliveries has made him conserve much more in his day-to-day life. "Now I'm hypersensitive about water," Berne said. "I go to the gym and I'm super sensitive, and these people are leaving the water on while they shave. I'm like, water!"

Berne and his wife have also proactively conserved water by ripping out their front lawn in favor of a xeriscape of plants and mulch. Still, even for other neighboring residents with similar lawn plans, making a water delivery last for six weeks is impossible. Some of Berne's neighbors who rely on water for families of four or more need the 2,000-gallon deliveries on a weekly basis – an expense that, at $85 a tank, quickly adds up. Families in the area who have run out of water (or funds) before the next scheduled delivery have had to go without showers and clean clothes, making do until their next refill. Others whose wells have yet to run dry have begun installing tanks, fearing that it won't be long until aquifer water will recede from their own wells as well. Many of these families rely on water from Edwards Aquifer, while some draw from nearby aquifers such as the Trinity.

Edwards Aquifer "is subject to a lot of water withdrawals," Gary said. "We certainly have more pumping than we would see in the Fifties, and that's our management challenge."

During the most recent "conservation period," the Aquifer District called for a 10% reduction in water use across the board, while mandatory water use restrictions were lifted. "We realize that this is one of the highest demand times for water," Gary had said during the conservation period. "And while the aquifer – the trigger points have been met [to declare it out of a groundwater drought] – we're not in a water-full situation, so this water conservation period allows us to keep that water conservation message front and center, because that's what everybody needs to be doing right now."

Now that the aquifer has officially receded back into drought, water use restrictions have been reinstated; all parties holding water use permits must reduce their pumpage by 20%.

Finding Strategies

Though recent rains briefly alleviated the severity of Central Texas' groundwater drought, Gary said one of the biggest challenges to further replenishment is that ground and surface waters are connected. "What rolls off at one point replenishes the aquifer at another, and what comes out of groundwater replenishes the surface water at another," Gary said. With groundwater and surface water – in this case, Edwards Aquifer and the Highland Lakes – so interdependent, it's hard to imagine any major restoration occurring within the aquifer while Austin's lakes are still enduring a drought rivaling that of the Fifties.

In hopes of removing some of the burden from the Highland Lakes, the Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force recently made several recommendations for alternative water sources and management approaches in its July 10 report. The short-term task force, which consisted of 11 members appointed by Mayor Lee Leffing­well, City Council members, and environmental-interest commissions, identified "recommended strategies for study ... that could potentially serve as sources of water within a long-term framework or could provide other benefits over both short and long periods," according to the memorandum. These strategies include applying a biodegradable powder to the lake surfaces to reduce evaporation, seasonally changing Lake Austin's levels to capture runoff rather than allowing it to spill downstream, contracting with new groundwater suppliers to obtain additional water sources, and desalination of brackish water zones of the Edwards Aquifer.

The ultimate effectiveness of these methods is uncertain. Contracting with new groundwater suppliers is perhaps the least onerous of the potential undertakings, though a question remains whether other prospective groundwater sources are healthy enough to withstand the added burden of Austin Water Utility customers. Desal­ination has become a topic of interest across Texas, and has had some success in El Paso, home to the largest desalination plant in the United States. However, Texas Water Foundation's Executive Director Car­ole Baker said desalination presents a solution, but also a problem. "People always default to desalination," she said. "We could always do that, but there are a couple of issues. The cost goes up, and the energy you need to clean up that process uses a lot of water."

Becoming Drought Tolerant
Photo by Jana Birchum

Fighting for conservation measures at the state level, voters in 2013 overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure to allocate $2 billion from Texas' so-called Rainy Day Fund to create a loan program for water-related projects – primarily pipelines and reservoirs – to help ensure Texas' water future; 20% of the water fund program is designated for conservation projects, while another 10% will be delegated to agricultural water conservation projects.

Changing the Mindset

In the midst of Central Texas' showdown between inevitable drought and population growth, and a desperate need for new solutions like the ones discussed by the Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force, one message has remained consistently in the forefront: conserve. Conserve now, and conserve often. Baker and the Texas Water Foundation are a part of the growing effort to emphasize conservation as one of the few drought-related measures that has few drawbacks and can be implemented directly, widely, and immediately.

"Of course the drought seems to just be ongoing and probably will be, is what we're sort of anticipating," Baker said. "I think one of the main things we are working on right now is trying to educate the public on this situation so they don't think every time we have rain, everything is back to normal. ... The key thing is to look at how water is so connected to so many things; to try to change the mindset, because that will change behavior. It's looking at how water is linked to the economy, to the environment, to communities."

Texas Water Foundation's particular brand of educating has been largely through multiday bus tours, during which they take legislators and decision makers from the Capitol on a tour of the state for a firsthand look at regional water challenges. The foundation has also held conferences over the past several years to bring conservation issues to the forefront – something that has been especially effective, Baker said. "We're actually in a pretty good place right now," she added. "Conservation and efficiency are really a large part of the conversation these days, and we've worked a long time to get it to that point where people are asking, 'What can we do?'"

Just because water conservation has entered the platform of statewide discussion doesn't mean activists and educators don't have their work cut out for them. Baker said that while many of their education and policy efforts have focused on legislators and water utility companies, their biggest battle now is with the general public. "If you talk about saving energy, people are great at that, but when it comes to talking about water, not so much," Baker said. "These issues are so different across the state, but all of them are focused on the fact that if we are fixin' to double our population over the next 10 years, at the end of the day, the best thing we can do is to learn how to conserve and use water efficiently."

The Next Generation

Some conservation activists have decided to focus on educating a different audience entirely. Austin-based nonprofit Colorado River Alliance holds field trips for young students on the land outside of LCRA headquarters in West Austin, where the students can peer from atop the overlook to see the Tom Miller Dam and the lakes that are a part of the water supply for much of Central Texas. Sarah Richards, Colorado River Alli­ance executive director, said when students discover exactly where their water comes from, and where it's going from there, it creates a greater conviction of personal responsibility for water usage and conservation.

"Knowledge is so critical – that they know how much we're using, and also that they know the source of their drinking water," she said. "When people can't point at it and say, 'That's where my drinking water is coming from,' it's hard for them to know to conserve."

Even parents and teachers have pulled Colorado River Alliance members aside during field trips to say that they had no idea about the water's uses or how much water a typical family uses. The alliance's biggest focus, however, has been on children. "It's important to see that our current leadership and decisionmakers are aware and have a strong knowledge of water resources, but it's just as important that our future leaders are aware," Richards said.

Some of the conservation tips are so simple, but can go a long way toward conservation: Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and save three gallons of water. Shorten showers and save up to 150 gallons of water per month. Fix leaky faucets. Bathe pets in outdoor areas that need watering (while adhering to outdoor watering restrictions). Use rain barrels to harvest rainwater from gutters.

According to Baker, learning how to properly work residential irrigation systems is one of the biggest ways in which residents can contribute to conservation efforts. Not only does this ensure not overwatering lawns, but it also includes only cultivating native plants and grasses that can be irrigated through rainwater.

In searching for answers in how to match Central Texas' valuable water resources to its prodigious growth, one thing can be agreed upon: No matter how much of the drought is out of human hands, this is an issue that should – and will – remain at the forefront for all of Texas, whether it is in a home or during legislative meetings.

"I think the biggest [message we need to emphasize] is: Whether we're in a time of drought or not, this is a shared resource, whether it's shared across the community, or whether we're sharing it with the environment," Richards said. "That just becomes more important when there's less water available."

 

Posted: September 10, 2014 12:03   Go to blog
End Op BULLETIN: Appeal of Party Status LOCATION CHANGESeptember 10, 2014 12:03
ES, Landowners' appeal of party status to be DECIDED
 by Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors September 10, 2014, 7:00 p.m. NOTICE LOCATION CHANGEAmerican Legion York Post 2761502 US Hwy 77, Giddings, TX 78942 Lawyers for Environmental Stewardship and Landowners will made oral arguments before the Lost  Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on August 13, 7:00 p.m. at the Bastrop Convention Center.  ES and Landowners are requesting that the decision by the ALJ to deny party status be reversed and remanded back to SOAH for contested case hearing. The Lost Pines Board continued the hearing until September 10, 2014...
ES, Landowners' appeal of party status to be DECIDED
 by Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors 
September 10, 2014, 7:00 p.m. 
NOTICE LOCATION CHANGE
American Legion York Post 276
1502 US Hwy 77, Giddings, TX 78942 
Lawyers for Environmental Stewardship and Landowners will made oral arguments before the Lost  Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on August 13, 7:00 p.m. at the Bastrop Convention Center.  ES and Landowners are requesting that the decision by the ALJ to deny party status be reversed and remanded back to SOAH for contested case hearing. The Lost Pines Board continued the hearing until September 10, 2014.  

The public is encouraged to attend.  Though public comments will not be heard, the face of the people needs to be seen.   This is a very important hearing about your rights to defend your interests in the groundwater beneath your land. 


Since our filing on August 1st, End Op has filed a reply to our request to reverse the decision to deny ES and Landowners party status in the contested case hearing.  Counsel for the Landowners has also filed an amicus brief regarding the Landowner's request. 


*************** 
Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Landowners (Andrew Meyer, Bette Brown, and Darwyn Hanna) have filed an appeal of the decision by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to deny party status in the End Op contested case hearing.  The request was filed with the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on August 1, 2014 and will be heard at a special meeting on August 13, 2014 in Bastrop, TX. The time and location of the meeting has not yet been established. 

ES and Landowners (collectively "Requesters") have asked that the Board reverse the ALJ's decision that they are not affected persons, and remand End Op's application back to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a contested case hearing including Requesters as parties. 

The ALJ denied Requesters' petition for party status on the basis that a requester must demonstrate an actual or intended use of groundwater owned before the person can assert an interest in the groundwater.  ES and Landowners argue that ownership of land, with the accompanying vested interest in groundwater, constitutes a legally protected interest within the framework of the Texas Water Code (36.002) and the Texas Supreme Court decision in the Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day case. 

The Supreme Court held that a landowner is regarded as having absolute title to the water in place beneath his or her land, and that each owner of land owns separately, distinctly and exclusively all of the water beneath his or her land, subject to the rule of capture and state regulation.  The court went on to conclude that landowners have a constitutionally compensable interest in groundwater, and that "one purpose of groundwater regulation is to afford each owner of water in a common, subsurface reservoir a fair share." 

The Supreme Court further noted, in quoting the United States Supreme Court, "to deny standing to persons who are in fact injured simply because many others are also injured, would mean that the most injurious and widespread Government actions could be questioned by nobody ... where a harm is concrete, though widely shared, the Court has found injury in fact." 

IF the ALJ's reasoning is allowed to stand, then the District will create an incentive for every landowner to drill a well and pump groundwater in order to protect their interest in that groundwater.   Importantly, the ALJ's decision punishes landowners who may choose to conserve groundwater, since the ALJ has effectively held that a landowner who wishes to use or waste his or her groundwater has a protected interest, while a landowner who opts to limit his or her use of groundwater has no right to protect his or her groundwater interests.  The District should not adopt the ALJ's approach that rewards needless or wasteful pumping. 

Subsequent to the ALJ's decision on party status, AQUA announced a partial settlement with End Op that would establish a mitigation fund for Aqua of up to $15 million over 20 years. In exchange, AQUA agreed to limited arguments and limited cross-examination, including refraining from arguing on behalf of any landowner other than AQUA at the hearing. The settlement also resulted in a reduction of End Op's request for a permit to 46,000 AFY instead of 56,000 AFY, and a reduction of pumping in Bastrop County. The AQUA mitigation fund is controlled by AQUA and may be used at AQUA's sole discretion, with no showing of fault by End Op.  AQUA and End Op also agreed that End Op would set up a mitigation fund of up to $3.75 million to be held by a third-party trustee to pay claims of landowners who are not Aqua customers, as long as they have wells either in the Simsboro Aquifer or within one mile of an End Op well. No details of the landowner fund have been offered by either AQUA or End Op, including whether these landowners will have the burden of proving End Op caused damage to their wells. Click here for a link to AQUA's frequently asked questions.  The ALJ's decision recommended the landowner mitigation fund be included in any End Op permit --- clearly, End Op, AQUA and the ALJ have attempted to settle issues affecting private landowners and their property rights, while denying the landowners themselves their rights of due process and equal protection.   
  

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Lost Pines Water Defense Fund
P.O. Box 690, Elgin, TX 78621
 For more information call 512-657-2089
Steve Box
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Environmental Stewardship
P.O. Box 1423
Bastrop, TX 78602   
512-300-6609    
                                                                            
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GROUNDWATER BULLETIN    
AUGUST 2014
Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Hearings

DrawdownWATER BANKRUPTCY:  A Visual Perspective
PERMIT THIS NOT BANKRUPTCY
PRINT FLYER
What does "draw-down" and "water bankruptcy" resulting from groundwater pumping look like on a groundwater map?  As you may know, the Desired Future Conditions are established in terms of the draw-down, in feet, of aquifers in Bastrop and Lee counties and throughout the District. 

Recently, Environmental Stewardship obtained visual images based on the Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) used by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District to evaluate the impact of proposed pumping from current permit applications on the Simsboro Aquifer.  Draw-down, measured in feet, is indicated on the contour lines of the maps below.  Click on Maps below to Enlarge

NOTICE:  Please keep in mind that the images below (except for Image 1) are for the PROPOSED permits ONLY (124,226 acre-feet/year) and DO NOT include EXISTING permits (45,365 acre-feet/year). 

GMA-DFC-Drawdown

Image 1.  PERMIT THIS - The draw-down, in feet, expected when the Adopted Desired Future Conditions (DFC) are met in Bastrop and Lee counties. The dark area in Burleson County is from Post Oak Savannah GCD pumping.  The Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors used the legal constraints of the adopted DFC to limit the Forestar permit.  Click on Map to Enlarge
AllPermits100%Drawdown
Image 2.  NOT WATER BANKRUPTCY - The draw-down map above, expressed in feet, demonstrates what is expected if ALL current applications are approved and pumped to the maximum requested. The Forestar permit has been reduced from 45,000 to 12,000 acre-feet per year.  However,  Forestar is expected to appeal to District Court in an attempt to overturn this Board decision.  Notice the red area in Lee county where draw-down is 1000 ft, and orange area in Bastrop County where draw-down is 750 ft.  Click on Map to Enlarge
Forestar100%
 Image 3.  WATER BANKRUPTCY - The majority of draw-down, in feet, in Lee County is from the proposed Forestar well field.  Fortunately, the Forestar permit has been reduced from 45,000 to 12,000 acre-feet per year.  However,  Forestar is expected to appeal to District Court in an attempt to overturn this Board decision. Click on Map to Enlarge

EndOp100%
Image 4.  WATER BANKRUPTCY - The majority of draw-down, in feet, in Bastrop County is from the proposed End Op well field, which is directly below Houston Toad habitat.  The End OP application has been contested by Aqua Water Supply Corporation and a hearing on the merits is being scheduled.  Click on Map to Enlarge
PERMIT THIS: 
If permitted at all, individual permits should first be reduced to levels actually supported by the application and then all permits reduced overall as necessary to an aggregate level that, including existing permits, protects the Adopted Desired Future Conditions.  In summary, if permitted at all, Forestar and End Op qualify for less than 5% of the water they are seeking.  In addition, the district needs to factor in the impact of existing permits before issuing any new permits. This has not been done. (See Image 1). 
Forestar25%
Image 5. Permit This!  This image depicts Forestar pumping reduced to 25% of requested pumping volume but DOES NOT include existing permits. The Board reduced Forestar's permit to 26% of the requested amount.  Click on Map to Enlarge
EndOp25%
Image 6.  Permit This! This image depicts End Op pumping reduced to 25% of requested pumping volume but DOES NOT include existing permits.  Click on Map to Enlarge

Lost Pines Groundwater Statistics
Region K
 
Below are some statistics about current applications, existing permits and facts from the Lost Pines Management Plan. 






Current Simsboro Aquifer Applications Pending:
-  45,000 acre-feet/yr          Forestar Group      Approved at 12,000 ac-ft/yr
-  10,000 acre-feet/yr          LCRA                    Approved at 5,000 ac-ft/yr
-  56,000 acre-feet/yr          End Op                 Contested
-    3,226 acre-feet/yr          Manville WSC        Approved
-    3,360 acre-feet/yr          Heart of Texas      Withdrawn
-    1,613 acre-feet/yr          City of Bastrop      Approved
119,199 acre-feet/yr     TOTAL APPLICATIONS FOR SIMSBORO WELLS

Currently Permits in the Simsboro Aquifer 
-  23,627 acre-feet/yr            Aqua WSC
-    6,653 acre-feet/yr            Manville WSC 
-  11,023 acre-feet/yr            Lee Co. WSC 
-       100 acre-feet/yr            Lee Co. FWSD 
-         67 acre-feet/yr            Hunters Crossing 
-    3,850 acre-feet/yr            Alcoa (currently pumping 6201 acre-feet/yr)
45,365 acre-feet/yr        TOTAL PERMITS FOR SIMSBORO WELLS


164,884 acre-feet/yr TOTAL SIMSBORO APPLICATIONS + PERMITS 
  4.4 times the Available Water (2060 MAG) for the Simsboro Aquifer
  5.6 times the Available Water (2010 MAG) for the Simsboro Aquifer
************************** 
A FEW FACTS From the Lost Pines Management Plan
-  Total Available Groundwater (MAG) in the District by 2060 is 58,888 acre-feet/yr.
-  Bastrop County projected water demand by 2060 is 65,266 acre-feet/yr.
-  Lee County projected water demand by 2060 is 6,603 acre-feet/yr.   
-  Current discharge to surface waters from all aquifers is 78,612 acre-feet/yr.  
-  Net recharge to all aquifers (recharge - discharge) is 7,249 acre-feet/yr.   
-  Current pumping for all aquifers in the District is 47,811 acre-feet/yr (website)
-  Current permits for all aquifers 73,000 acre-feet/yr (Austin-American Statesman) 

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Posted: September 10, 2014 12:03   Go to blog
What's on tap at Thursday's Water Crisis meeting? September 10, 2014 12:00

What's on tap at
Thursday's Water Crisis meeting? 

People say the darndest things.
The other day a few CARD members were handing out leaflets for theBlanco River in droughtupcoming community water meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the Community Center. "Would you like information on the Water Crisis meeting?" we asked a few hundred people. Some folks said yes, some no, and many asked questions.
But one confidently smiling lady left us momentarily speechless...

What's on tap at
Thursday's Water Crisis meeting? 

People say the darndest things.

The other day a few CARD members were handing out leaflets for the
Blanco River
Blanco River in drought
upcoming community water meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the Community Center. "Would you like information on the Water Crisis meeting?" we asked a few hundred people. Some folks said yes, some no, and many asked questions.

But one confidently smiling lady left us momentarily speechless.

"I don't need to worry about water," she said happily, "I'm on a well."

By the time we recovered, she was gone but, really, what would you say to that? Perhaps, "Uh, even well water has to come from someplace."

Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. After all, how many city folks do you know who think water just comes from a faucet, and never wonder how it got there or where it came from?

With longer droughts, lower creek and spring flows, ever greater water demand and a forecast of very rapid growth, we central Texans - most of us anyway - have become increasingly aware of the threat water shortages hold for our area. What happens, we need to ask, when the well runs dry, as many have in Hays County in recent years? Where will we get plentiful, clear water, how will we get it here, and how much will it cost? What can we do now to protect the water we have, and lessen the problem down the road?

To foster more discussion and understanding of the threat to our water supply, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) hosts a free community meeting, Water Crisis: Time To Get Serious!, 6-9:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 11) in the Wimberley Community Center, 14068 RR 12 in the heart of Wimberley. CARD, a local non-partisan, volunteer organization, is the sole host.

"Our citizens are concerned about the continued availability of clean water, and also about the increasing cost impact as we look at historic population growth and drought," said CARD water committee chair David Glenn. "CARD is hosting this meeting to help us all learn more about the water issues and the risks facing our community today and in the near future."

The Chat with Experts session, at 6 p.m., is an hour-long information fair for individuals and families looking for smarter and more efficient ways to use water in their own lives and homes. This is the "hands-on" part of the Water Crisis meeting, set in the Community Center lobby and meeting rooms. There will be six tables - all non-commercial (no one selling anything!). Table topics include:
  • Household water conservation, with Brandon Leister from SAWS, the San Antonio Water System, nationally recognized for its progressive programs of water conservation.
  • Xeriscaping/landscaping, on how to create beautiful yards and gardens with native plants and features that use little water, with local Texas AgriLife Extension Agent Richard Parrish.
  • Lawns, with advice on what grasses grow well here naturally, and which have long erosion-resistant, soil-saving roots. With Del Hood of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
  • Rainwater collection, with help on small systems for a little garden or full home rain catchment, with Sanjeev Kalaswad and Bridget Cameron from the Texas Water Development Board.
  • Saving energy saves water, presented by Blake Beavers, Joe Paramo and Diana Gonzales of Pedernales Electric Cooperative (P.E.C.)
Members of the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists will be assisting at each table.

There will also be a table on the Cypress Creek Project, which promotes the importance of maintaining healthy spring and stream flows, including flow from Jacob's Well, with CCP's Matt Heinemann.

At 7 p.m. the meeting moves into the Center's auditorium to hear speakers on different aspects of the current and future water situation in our area. These include:

  • Introduction to Texas and Hill Country Water: Andy Sansom, of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University. Sansom, a very familiar figure in this area, is also a former director the Texas Nature Conservancy and a former executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  • Yesterday's Water: Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 4, whose career in the water industry covered the better part of four decades.
  • Today's Water: Peter Newell, Austin-based Water Resources Engineer for HDR Engineering, where he works on water planning for Central Texas. Newell will discuss the situation with surface and aquifer water today, and plans for other sources in the future, as well as the role people play through their individual water-use decisions.
  • Tomorrow's Planning: Bech Bruun, of the Texas Water Development Board, and Texas Environmental Flows Advisory Group, discusses how water planning is changing and ways of approaching funding.
  • Innovative Water Solutions: Steve Clouse, COO of the San Antonio Water Systems, which has won praise for innovative approaches to water availability, discusses approaches such as conservation, brackish groundwater desalination and water re-use.

Members of the audience are invited to ask questions of the speakers, joined by Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 3, Will Conley, in the Speaker Panel session, from 9-9:30 p.m.

The free community meeting includes light refreshments - including water - and is open to all. For more information on CARD, check 
Posted: September 10, 2014 12:00   Go to blog
Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on... September 3, 2014September 03, 2014 16:26


Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                     September 3, 2014
Hill Country News
California’s water crisis and new groundwater rules are worth learning about
“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post...


Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    
September 3, 2014

Hill Country News

California’s water crisis and new groundwater rules are worth learning about
“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post. Now California lawmakers are overhauling the state's longstanding "pump-as-you-please" groundwater policy under a package of bills lawmakers recently sent Gov. Jerry Brown. Read about California’s new groundwater rules in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Also read “Desperately Dry” in the New York Times.

Hill Country Land Trust urges support for charitable giving
The United States Senate has the opportunity before the end of the year to provide a powerful boost to charitable organizations working to preserve our beautiful Hill Country. Read more from the Hill Country Land Trust.

City Planning for San Antonio Growth Bomb

“Bexar County Commissioners reviewing their own 2015 proposed budget, were told by county planners on Tuesday that the biggest challenge they face now and in the coming years is the startling rate of population growth in the far reaches of the county, well beyond the reach of city services with expectations that county government will meet infrastructure, public safety and social needs.” Read the full story in the Rivard Report.

Green Spaces Alliance's Picture Your World Youth Photography Project 2014-2015
Open to youth ages 8-18, the Picture Your World weekend workshops teach photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration, and constructive critique. Participants will produce a visual memory of their day and begin a creative portfolio while experiencing the wonders of the natural environment. Learn more

Austin Sierra Club talks water in two upcoming meetings
Bruce Melton discusses how Texas' changing weather patterns are affecting our water supply and HCA's Sharlene Leurig discusses the newly formed Austin Water Resources Task Force water in two upcoming meetings of the Austin Sierra Club, September 9 and November 11. Learn more

Fredericksburg SHINES Hosts Second Annual Sustainability-Green Home Tour

Fredericksburg SHINES (FBG SHINES), a local organization dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living, will host their second annual Fredericksburg fall tour of homes to spotlight local examples of sustainable, green-living practices. Learn more

Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region, a Low Impact Development Manual
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) has announced completion of a helpful low impact development publication. This manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas. The manual is available for download on the GEAA website.

Travis County Wants Your Feedback - Land Water and Transportation Plan Ready for Review
The population of Travis County is expected to grow 50% by 2035 for a total of 1,500,000 people. Planning for growth outside of the city limits is critical for the county to continue to thrive in a sustainable manner. As such, Travis County needs your feedback to ensure the County's first comprehensive, long-range Land Water and Transportation Plan reflects local values and priorities. Learn how you can helpTravis County plan for future growth.


Interested in getting more actively involved in HCA?
Join HCA leaders and volunteers as well as invited elected officials, GCD board members, landowners and conservationists for a day dedicated to vibrant towns, healthy landscapes, protected natural water systems and people making a difference in our Hill Country.  HCA Leadership Summit, September 25th at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg. Space is limited Register today.


Upcoming Events
September

September 6 in Fredericksburg - HCA Landowner Workshop: Discussion of the Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line - Details
Sepbember 8-12 in Austin - 6th International Workshop on Catchment Hydrological Modeling and Data Assimilation - Details
September 9 in Kerrville - “Drought Impact in Kerr County & How to Improve Our River’s Health” by Tara Bushnoe, UGRA’s Natural Resource Coordinator, at the Riverside Nature Center - Details
September 9 in Austin - Meeting of the Austin Sierra Club - More Rain, Less Water: The Climate Change Enhanced Drought in Central Texas with Bruce Melton - Details
September 11 in Wimberley - Community Water Meeting, hosted by CARD - Details
September 12 in Kendalia - 2014 New Landowner Series: Wildlife and Range Management, Brush Work and Sculpting - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
September 20 in Fredericksburg - Fredericksburg Shines 2nd Annual Sustainability Green Homes Tour - Details

September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details
September 25 in Fredericksburg - Hill Country Alliance Leadership Summit - Details
September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details

September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details
September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details
*Save the date for the October 8th Water Forum: Securing our Water Future
“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.
Posted: September 03, 2014 16:26   Go to blog
New reports highlight pricing & financing tools for water systemsSeptember 03, 2014 12:25





As local communities contend with more floods, worsening droughts and aging infrastructure, finding ways to pay for critical water infrastructure upgrades is an enormous challenge.
How do we transform water utilities' business models to ensure stable revenues? And how do we make better use of conventional financing tools to build a new generation of water infrastructure?
Two new reports from Ceres explore the innovative financial solutions that can update our local water systems, improve conservation efforts and ensure adequate water supplies now and well into the future...





As local communities contend with more floods, worsening droughts and aging infrastructure, finding ways to pay for critical water infrastructure upgrades is an enormous challenge.
How do we transform water utilities' business models to ensure stable revenues? And how do we make better use of conventional financing tools to build a new generation of water infrastructure?
Two new reports from Ceres explore the innovative financial solutions that can update our local water systems, improve conservation efforts and ensure adequate water supplies now and well into the future.
Download the reports using the links below, or read on to learn more about each report.
Measuring and Mitigating Water Revenue Variability: Understanding How Pricing Can Advance Conservation Without Undermining Utilities' Revenue Goals
Bond Financing Distributed Water Systems: How to Make Better Use of our Most Liquid Market for Financing Water Infrastructure

Learn more: Measuring and Mitigating Water Revenue Variability Report CoverMeasuring and Mitigating Water Revenue Variability: Understanding How Pricing Can Advance Conservation Without Undermining Utilities' Revenue Goals

As water utilities across North America look to the market to finance the replacement and expansion of outdated water delivery systems, the need for confident revenue projections grows. With many hundreds of billions of dollars of needed water infrastructure investment on the horizon, it is more important than ever to anticipate how changing water use patterns and rates drive revenue risk.
This report examines real financial and water use data from three North American water utilities to demonstrate how rate structures can mitigate or intensify revenue variability. It also introduces alternative financial and pricing strategies that can assist water utilities in stabilizing revenue without compromising the commitment to water conservation.
Download the report.
Bond Financing Report CoverBond Financing Distributed Water Systems: How to Make Better Use of our Most Liquid Market for Financing Water Infrastructure

Across the United States, communities are planning major investments in water conservation and green stormwater infrastructure to manage droughts and floods.While these distributed approaches to managing water are often more cost-effective than building new reservoirs, pipelines, tunnels and treatment plants, figuring out how to finance them is challenged by the widespread belief that utilities can use their debt only to build projects they own outright. With limited cash available for distributed water solutions, it is no surprise that these types of investments struggle to keep pace with debt-financed centralized infrastructure.
This report asks the question, can we learn from cities like Seattle, Las Vegas and New York City how to make better use of the bond market to finance this new type of infrastructure?
Download the report.
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Sharlene Leurig
Director, Water Program
Ceres
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership that mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to build a sustainable global economy.
Ceres is a non-profit organization. All gifts are tax deductible. Ceres has received high ratings from charity watchdog groups, a reflection of our effectiveness, integrity and impact.
Donate now
Ceres
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www.ceres.or
Posted: September 03, 2014 12:25   Go to blog
District Habitat Conservation Plan update September 03, 2014 12:22
We wanted let you know that a Public Hearing has been scheduled regarding the District's Habitat Conservation Plan.  Notice is given that a Public Hearing by the Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (District) will be held at the District office located at 1124 Regal Row, Austin, Texas, during its Regular Meeting on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 6:15 p.m...
We wanted let you know that a Public Hearing has been scheduled regarding the District's Habitat Conservation Plan.  Notice is given that a Public Hearing by the Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (District) will be held at the District office located at 1124 Regal Row, Austin, Texas, during its Regular Meeting on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 6:15 p.m. for the following purpose:

The Public Hearing concerns the proposed draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that has been developed in support of a prospective application for an Incidental Take Permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The proposed HCP includes measures necessary to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential adverse effects or “take” of the endangered Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum) and Austin blind salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis) associated with District-permitted withdrawals of groundwater from the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.  The proposed draft HCP and other documents are available on the District’s HCP Reports and Official Communications page.

Following the public hearing, the Board will consider and may take action on the proposed draft application and submission to the USF&W Service.  Please contact the District office at (512) 282-8441 for more information.



Posted: September 03, 2014 12:22   Go to blog
Jacob’s Well Natural Area Swim Season Ends, Park Remains Open for Nature ActivitiesAugust 28, 2014 10:28




Hays County, Texas
www.co.hays.tx.us

Follow us at www.twitter.com/hayscountygov

 www.facebook.com/hayscountytexas

www.haysinformed.com for Countywide Emergency InfoInformation for the News MediaAug. 21, 2014  UPDATED

Jacob’s Well Natural Area Swim Season Ends, Park Remains Open for Nature Activities
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – Jacob’s Well Natural Area will close to swimmers for the winter following the Labor Day weekend so that park employees can work on restoration activities...




Hays County, Texas
www.haysinformed.com for Countywide Emergency Info
Information for the News Media
Aug. 21, 2014  UPDATED


Jacob’s Well Natural Area Swim Season Ends, Park Remains Open for Nature Activities

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – Jacobs Well Natural Area will close to swimmers for the winter following the Labor Day weekend so that park employees can work on restoration activities.

Beginning Tuesday, September 2, park hours will change to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and be open for hiking, bird- watching, picnicking and the popular 10 a.m. Saturday tours led by Hays County Master Naturalists.

Weve had an amazingly active swim season following local and national media exposure,” said Clint Garza, Director of Development and Community Services for Hays County. “Our park employees can now focus on major projects such as trail building, updating park amenities and other infrastructure improvements. We expect to offer our visitors an even better experience once these improvements are made and to allow swimming again, on a limited basis, during the 2015 swim season. We will continue to restore the Jacobs Well Natural Area to protect our natural resources while sharing it with our visitors in the coming seasons,” Garza said.

There may be times due to heavy construction that the entire park will be closed. Visitors are encouraged to call the Parks Information Line for updates at 512-847-2140 before heading out to Jacobs Well Natural Area. For more information about Hays County Parks, visit www.co.hays.tx.us and choose Parks from the Office dropdown tab.
 ###








Posted: August 28, 2014 10:28   Go to blog
GEAA publishes Manual for Edwards Aquifer regionAugust 28, 2014 10:24

Dear GEAA members and friends,

I am delighted to announce the completion of GEAA’s latest publication, Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region, a Low Impact Development Manual.  This project has been in the works for years, and we are so happy to have finally sent it off to the printers!  You can access the full publication on-line here.


This manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas...

Dear GEAA members and friends,

I am delighted to announce the completion of GEAA’s latest publication, Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region, a Low Impact Development Manual.  This project has been in the works for years, and we are so happy to have finally sent it off to the printers!  You can access the full publication on-line here.


This manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas.  Information about techniques that encourage infiltration of clean stormwater on site, and how plantings and landscaping can be used to mitigate stormwater pollution are outlined in the Manual, which also includes a beautifully illustrated compendium of native and drought tolerant plants appropriate for use in our area.  Please take a look and tell us what you think.
We are extremely grateful to all who contributed to the creation of this publication – especially to karst expert, George Veni, and graphic artist, Janet Thome for their considerable expertise and artistry.

Full color print copies will be available for sale in mid-September through the GEAA store on our web site, and in our office at 1809 Blanco Road in San Antonio.  On line access is available from the "Publications" section on our web site.

Again, thank you to everyone who made this possible! 
Annalisa Peace, Exective Director,
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance


You can always keep up with interesting water news on GEAA's Face Book page
and, you can mail contributions to support GEAA to PO Box 15618, San Antonio, Texas 78212
Posted: August 28, 2014 10:24   Go to blog
Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...Hill Country News...August 27, 2014August 27, 2014 13:27





Truck Stop in Hill Country Threatens Llano River

Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report...

HCA NEWS Logo



Truck Stop in Hill Country Threatens Llano River

Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Workshop Will Feature Discussion of Proposed Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line
A landowner workshop has been planned for all interested in, or potentially impacted by, the proposed substation and transmission line planned for the Blumenthal area, September 6 near Fredericksburg. Learn more

Texans Speak Up for Beautiful Highways: TxDOT withdraws proposal for taller billboards
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has withdrawn its June 2014 proposed rule change that would have allowed billboards along federal highways to be taller. After receiving public comments from more than 900 Texans and 15 organizations in opposition to taller billboards, the agency advised today it is removing the item from consideration on the August 28 Texas Transportation Commission agenda. Learn more

The City of Fredericksburg takes steps to protect the night sky
Efforts to limit the nighttime glow in and around Fredericksburg were buoyed this month as the council approved an outdoor lighting standards ordinance, which will primarily affect new residential and commercial development. A complete draft of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.fbgtx.org. Learn about Hill Country attorney-astronomer, HCA Night Sky team member Ken Kattner who records skies from home observatory and advocates for proper lighting in the Hill Country here.

SAWS proposing Burleson County pipeline – questions raised

SAWS presented plans for a 142 mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio at a recent community forum at UTSA. Learn more and watch a video from SAWS news here. While the plan promises 50,000 acre feet of non-Edwards water annually, a Texas Public Radio segment points out that perhaps not enough questions have been raised. Are there consequences related to costs to the community and impacts on San Antonio’s conservation ethic worth exploring? Click here to read and listen to “The Source: Some Critique On A SAWS, Vista Ridge Deal." Decisions will be made by SAWS in September and SA City Council could take this up in October.

The City of Dripping Springs is planning for a “World Class Trail”
“The routes will connect destinations beyond Dripping Springs and will take advantage of opportunities to reach the proposed Violet Crown Trail and other regional trails and parks planned for Central Texas.” Read more and get involved. The City of Dripping Springs is soliciting input.

Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25
Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance. “We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Learn more

NPSOT Native Landscape Certification Program - Register Now for 2014 Fall Classes
The Native Plant Society of Texas Native Landscape Certification Program is a series of courses that teaches best practices for native plant landscape and habitat preservation. Targeted audiences are homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape architects, architects, landscape designers and nurserymen, Master Naturalists, teachers, citizens, Master Gardeners, engineers, and more. Learn more and register.

San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project
Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

Interested in getting more actively involved in HCA?
Join HCA leaders and volunteers as well as invited elected officials, GCD board members, landowners and conservationists for a day dedicated to vibrant towns, healthy landscapes, protected natural water systems and people making a difference in our Hill Country.  HCA Leadership Summit, September 25th at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg. Learn more and register today.

Upcoming Events

September

September 6 in Fredericksburg - HCA Landowner Workshop: Discussion of the Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line - Details
Sepbember 8-12 in Austin - 6th International Workshop on Catchment Hydrological Modeling and Data Assimilation - Details
September 9 in Kerrville - “Drought Impact in Kerr County & How to Improve Our River’s Health” by Tara Bushnoe, UGRA’s Natural Resource Coordinator, at the Riverside Nature Center - Details
September 11 in Wimberley - Community Water Meeting, hosted by CARD - Details
September 12 in Kendalia - 2014 New Landowner Series: Wildlife and Range Management, Brush Work and Sculpting - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details

September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details
September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details

September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details
September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details
*Save the date for the October 8th Water Forum: Securing our Water Future
“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.
Posted: August 27, 2014 13:27   Go to blog
Ongoing drought-induced uplift in the western United States, Water loss of 63 trillion gallons causing western U.S. ground to riseAugust 27, 2014 10:40


(Photo : Shawn Lawrence, UNAVCO)
Our aquifers will be our water of last resort after the reservoirs go dry…..of course there is always treated excrement.Water loss of 63 trillion gallons causing western U.S. ground to rise: Scripps study, Ongoing drought-induced uplift in the western United States, was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey.  Authors: Adrian Antal Borsa, Duncan Carr Agnew, Daniel R. Cayan.The western United States has been experiencing severe drought since 2013...


(Photo : Shawn Lawrence, UNAVCO)

Our aquifers will be our water of last resort after the reservoirs go dry…..of course there is always treated excrement.
Water loss of 63 trillion gallons causing western U.S. ground to rise:
Scripps study, Ongoing drought-induced uplift in the western United States, was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey.  Authors: Adrian Antal Borsa, Duncan Carr Agnew, Daniel R. Cayan.
The western United States has been experiencing severe drought since 2013. The solid earth response to the accompanying loss of surface and near-surface water mass should be a broad region of uplift. We use seasonally-adjusted time series from continuously operating GPS stations to measure this uplift, which we invert to estimate mass loss. The median uplift is 4 mm, with values up to 15 mm in California’s mountains. The associated pattern of mass loss, which ranges up to 50 cm of water equivalent, is consistent with observed decreases in precipitation and streamflow. We estimate the total deficit to be about 240 Gt, equivalent to a 10 cm layer of water over the entire region, or the annual mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Satellite study reveals parched U.S. West using up underground water
24 July 2014, American Geophysical Union
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.
If You Think the Water Crisis Can't Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained
We're pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it's gone, the real crisis begins.
Posted: August 27, 2014 10:40   Go to blog
BSEACD Bulletin: Stage II Alarm Drought, Strategic Walk and Talk, Current Conditions August 25, 2014 16:57

Email Notice
August 21, 2014
For more information,
visit our website:
www.bseacd.org
Visit us on Facebook!
In This Issue...
Return to Stage II Alarm Drought
Strategic Walk and Talk
Current Aquifer Conditions
 
Mission:
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is committed to conserving, protecting, recharging, and preventing waste of groundwater and to preserving all aquifers within the District.
The District was created in 1987 by the Texas Legislature as the responsible public authority and the preferred entity for managing groundwater
in District aquifers...

Email Notice
August 21, 2014
For more information,
visit our website:

www.bseacd.org

Visit us on Facebook!

In This Issue...
Return to Stage II Alarm Drought
Strategic Walk and Talk
Current Aquifer Conditions
 
Mission:
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is committed to conserving, protecting, recharging, and preventing waste of groundwater and to preserving all aquifers within the District.

The District was created in 1987 by the Texas Legislature as the responsible public authority and the preferred entity for managing groundwater
in District aquifers.


Barton Springs/ Edwards Aquifer  Conservation District

 

Aquifer District Returns to Stage II Alarm Drought

Aquifer District Returns to Stage II Alarm Drought. The District’s Board of Directors declared Stage II Alarm Drought at the August 14th Board Meeting, effective immediately. Lovelady monitor well, one of the District’s two drought-trigger sites, crossed below its Stage II Alarm Drought water level of 478.4 feet above mean sea level in mid-July.

All permittees must achieve at least a 20% reduction in monthly pumpage. Permittees with conditional permits have to reduce use even further. End-user customers served by water utilities on groundwater wells are required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for this drought stage. Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling & refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought.

Press Release available here:
www.bseacd.org/publications/press-releases/


Strategic Walk and Talk

Each year the Aquifer District devotes resources for a Strategic Walk and Talk campaign.  This team of folks can mobilize to either provide rapid response well owner notices in the event of a spill or education to increase awareness of District programs.  This year there were no spills that affected water quality for our groundwater users, so the team will be carrying information about the recent Stage II Alarm Drought declaration and about District programs such as well owner resources, scholarship programs, and Friends of the Aquifers notices.

Keep your eyes out for our Strategic Walk and Talk team.  They could be in your neighborhood during the next two weeks.  


Current Aquifer Conditions
August 14, 2014Stage II Alarm Drought

Click on the image on the right to access the current drought chart or visit:www.bseacd.org/aquifer-science/drought-status/

Drought Indicators
Current Conditions
Stage II
Alarm
Trigger
Stage III
Critical
Trigger
Stage IV
Exceptional
Trigger
Barton Springs Discharge
(10-day avg.)
38
cfs
38
cfs
20
cfs
14
cfs
Lovelady Indicator Well
(feet above mean sea level)
474.2
ft msl
478.4
ft msl
462.7
ft msl
457.1
ft msl
 
Data from 8/14/2014

 
 
Posted: August 25, 2014 16:57   Go to blog
Last Chance to Speak Up for Water Conservation!August 21, 2014 16:15
Photo by Charles Kruvand.Less than two weeks remain for Texans to speak up for water conservation! The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has set September 1 as the deadline to receive comments on the agency’s proposed rules to implement Proposition 6. Prop 6 – passed overwhelmingly by Texas voters last November – created new state water funds to help Texas communities meet their water needs...
Photo by Charles Kruvand.
Less than two weeks remain for Texans to speak up for water conservation! The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has set September 1 as the deadline to receive comments on the agency’s proposed rules to implement Proposition 6. Prop 6 – passed overwhelmingly by Texas voters last November – created new state water funds to help Texas communities meet their water needs.
The Sierra Club supported Prop 6 because not less than 20% of the new funding is intended for water conservation or reuse and for the first time projects in the state water plan must be prioritized before being eligible for state funding. To be sure that the new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and a related fund achieve their potential, however, Texans need to show support for water conservation! TWDB has made it easy to do so, and the agency leadership is eager to hear your opinion. Tell the state water agency you want water conservation projects to be the first priority for funding!
These hot August days remind us that we Texans always need to conserve our precious water resources. Let’s make sure the new state water fund helps us do that!

Sincerely,
Ken Kramer
Water Resources Chair

Posted: August 21, 2014 16:15   Go to blog
HCA Press Release - Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs Oct. 25August 20, 2014 16:30



Media Contact: Kathi Thomas 512.479.9H2O info@rainwaterrevival.com
Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25
(August 18, 2014) – Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance...



Media Contact:
Kathi Thomas
512.479.9H2O

Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25

(August 18, 2014) – Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance.

“We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. With increasing population growth and development, we know there continues to be a huge interest in rainwater harvesting to take some pressure off local aquifers and dwindling surface water supplies.”

Since the start of the annual event, thousands of people—both novices and experienced rainwater harvesters—have learned the latest in rainwater catchment techniques for both indoor and outdoor use from an array of experts, speakers and exhibitors. At the same time, the family-friendly Rainwater Revival offers food, music and conservation-themed arts and crafts for the kids. Once again, rain barrels turned in to functional works of art by Hill Country artists will be auctioned off in order to provide grants to Hill Country schools for conservation activities.

“While the drought is still seriously affecting our public water supplies, we know the Hill Country receives enough rain events to fill tanks and provide an ongoing water supply to savvy rainwater harvesters,” said Hill Country Alliance’s Christy Muse. “Once someone sees how simple it is to collect and use rainwater captured on their own property, they’re hooked.”

Homeowners who live entirely on rainwater, along with professional rainwater catchment system designers and installers, and experienced do-it-yourselfers, will share information throughout the one-day event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information can be found at: rainwaterrevival.com

The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country.
Posted: August 20, 2014 16:30   Go to blog
Hill Country Alliance Announces Winners of Photography Contest for 2015 CalendarAugust 20, 2014 11:33

A desolate tree beautifully framed by a sunset and clouds, an old railroad bridge by starlight, a Texas-sized colorful bug, a cabin framed by a double rainbow—these describe images chosen as winners in the 2014 Hill Country Alliance (HCA) photography contest. These photos and more will be spotlighted in the 2015 HCA calendar, expected to go on sale in September on HCA’s website.

“All of our photographers are winners,” said Christy Muse of HCA...

A desolate tree beautifully framed by a sunset and clouds, an old railroad bridge by starlight, a Texas-sized colorful bug, a cabin framed by a double rainbow—these describe images chosen as winners in the 2014 Hill Country Alliance (HCA) photography contest. These photos and more will be spotlighted in the 2015 HCA calendar, expected to go on sale in September on HCA’s website.

“All of our photographers are winners,” said Christy Muse of HCA. “Each year it is so difficult to choose photos that best represent the Hill Country and tell the story of what we must protect and preserve. With nearly 400 photo submissions this year, the 2015 calendar will be as usual, stunning and evocative.”

“It’s through photographs like these that we help share the importance of protecting our Hill Country environment, and one of the reasons our calendar has been so popular with both area residents and nature lovers worldwide,” said Milan J. Michalec, board president of HCA.

Grand prize winner Mark Holly, who recently relocated from Bandera to Boerne, submitted No Bluebonnets this Year! and although the spring flowers weren’t what were hoped for, the striking composition of a dead tree and parched landscape surrounded by clouds glowing in the sunset allowed him to find beauty where some might not. Holly, who took up photography in college while studying information technology, said that he most enjoys landscape settings because there are “so many beautiful scenes that need to be shared.” After an early retirement, he took time to determine what he wanted to do with his life and focused on photography, much of which lends itself to black-and-white compositions. “I love the ability to capture and create scenes that might brighten someone’s day … I hope that people who are unable to visit these sites will be able to enjoy their beauty. The Texas Hill Country keeps me inspired, and I worry about our natural resources. I hope its beauty will remain for generations to come.”

Tod Grubbs won first place with his work Stars over the Rail Road Bridge. Grubbs and his wife have turned their passion for photography into a career, and prefer to photograph landscapes and cityscapes. “It was a challenge finding the composition we were looking for outside of the light dome of Austin and San Antonio, but this happened to be just what we were hoping for – the perfect combination of a moonless night, the star-filled galaxy, and the railroad bridge,” Grubbs said. The photo was taken east of Llano on Highway 29. “The unique and varied landscapes of Central Texas bring me a lot of joy as a photographer.” He and his wife are searching now for the perfect windmill to photograph.

Second-place winner Tom Conner credited the Hill Country with reconnecting him with nature and as his inspiration for photographing wildlife surrounding his cabin near Hondo. “I decided to submit Texas Alien because the smaller life forms we encounter every day are very often overlooked,” he said. “If we slow down and really take time to observe them, they each offer something interesting. Capturing the magnificence and mystery of Texas wildlife is my passion.” Now retired, Conner’s photography hobby became his career and after courses at the New York Institute of Photography, he ran a studio in San Antonio.

Christina Ellis garnered third place for Spring Rainbows, photographed during a break in an intense thunderstorm in April near Wimberley. “I stepped outside to enjoy the rain-cooled air, and saw an amazing double rainbow over the art studio my husband built,” she said. “It seemed magical.” A photographer for some 40 years, Ellis said she never tires of finding inspiration from the outdoors. “The Hill Country is my home, and it is never boring,” she said.
Check out more top photos from the 2014 HCA Photo Contest!

The 2015 Texas Hill Country Calendar, featuring stunning photographs from the 2014 HCA Photo Contest, will be on sale in a few weeks. Calendars will be available for purchase at retailers throughout the Hill Country as well as online though the HCA website. Check back at www.hillcountryalliance.org for availability.
Posted: August 20, 2014 11:33   Go to blog
San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project, The Texas Tribune, by Neena Satija August 13, 2014 14:42
SAN ANTONIO — Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects.

For decades, the city has searched for a water supply beyond the dwindling Edwards Aquifer...
SAN ANTONIO — Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects.

For decades, the city has searched for a water supply beyond the dwindling Edwards Aquifer. And now officials at San Antonio Water System, the city's water utility, are negotiating with two private companies — the Austin-based Central





Texas water supplier BlueWater and the Spanish company Abengoa — to pipe in 16 billion gallons of water a year from Burleson County in Central Texas. The utility estimates that the project would cost $3 billion over 30 years and boost its water supply by about 20 percent starting in 2019. Berto Guerra, chairman of the SAWS board, said the project would be key in ensuring the city remains a good place to do business in the coming decades.




“Somebody will say, someone way back 20 years ago had the courage and had the vision to do what was right,” he said Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Antonio, at the first of a series of public forums the utility will have about the project. 

But questions still remain about how much the project would cost ratepayers in the San Antonio metro area, its impact on the utility’s business model and conservation culture, and — perhaps most significantly — whether 16 billion gallons of groundwater is really available from Central Texas’ Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer.\

"This is a logical move for San Antonio, but it doesn't dismiss the importance of caution," said Ron Nirenberg, a city councilman. "If our pursuit is actually to secure more water long-term, then maximum available groundwater is absolutely a top concern."
Available groundwater may indeed be a concern, even though the two water companies say they've already secured more than enough water rights from the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District, which regulates groundwater withdrawals in Burleson County. According to the district's current groundwater models, just under 20 billion gallons of water a year are available from the Carrizo-Wilcox there.

A few billion gallons a year are already pumped from the aquifer by small towns in the county. At the same time, just across the county line in the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, two water companies are fighting district officials and local landowners to pull about 15 billion gallons of water annually from the same aquifer.

Gary Westbrook, general manager of the Post Oak district, said in an interview that the groundwater withdrawals from the Lost Pines district have a significant impact on Burleson County. 
“Sooner or later, any amount of water that gets used from our neighbors is going to impact what’s available in our district. We’ve never doubted that,” he said. Westbrook estimated that in 10 to 15 years, the district would have to “curtail” pumping, which could impact the availability of water to San Antonio.

Westbrook also appeared surprised that SAWS would in 2019 begin pumping the full 16 billion gallons out of the aquifer, because most of the other pumpers in the district today don't use the entirety of the groundwater that is allocated to them. “If they go to the full [16 billion gallons], obviously that’s going to change a lot of our considerations. That’s going to be a much different permit than we’re used to dealing with, and that’s okay,” he said.

SAWS officials say they’re protected from such concerns because the water companies that would be pumping and transporting the water have bought up extra land and water rights in excess of 16 billion gallons a year. They also say the two companies have agreed that SAWS will only pay for the maximum amount of water the companies can physically deliver. If that turns out to be less than 16 billion gallons of water per year because of pumping curtailments, the companies would lose that money, not SAWS.

Still, at negotiations between SAWS and the two companies that occurred after the public forum on Tuesday afternoon, it was still unclear how that would work. Even if the groundwater district restricted pumping by just 6 percent in one year, which means SAWS is only delivered 94 percent of the water it was promised, that means that the companies would lose $6 million — a substantial amount, said Gene Dawson, owner of a local engineering firm who is a contractor of the companies for the proposed project. 

“If you talk about return on equity, I mean, that just completely wipes it out that year,” Dawson pointed out. “Not being paid for the water is a significant penalty in itself.”
Others worry the deal is being made with too many unanswered questions and not enough public input. Nirenberg, the San Antonio city councilman, noted that it’s still unclear whether the city really needs such a large amount of water upfront and what the impact on water rates will be.
“We do need to be very careful about the public process,” he said. “If we bring a done deal to the public” without answering those questions, “then we are in for a reawakening.” The City Council will have to approve the rate increases needed for the project, which SAWS has said will be in the double digits, though it has not yet provided a more specific number. 

The possible sudden influx of water supplies into San Antonio has caused environmental advocates to question whether the city’s celebrated culture of conservation would continue, particularly because the contract being negotiated is a “take and pay” contract. That means that even if San Antonio doesn’t need 16 billion gallons of water a year, for the next 30 years, as long as that amount of water is deliverable by BlueWater and Abengoa, it will pay an estimated $100 million a year for that amount regardless. Critics say that will create an incentive for the utility to sell more water and discourage conservation.

A potential solution to that, said SAWS President Robert Puente, is for the utility to become a regional water supplier. “In the beginning, and in wet years, [16 billion more gallons annually] is more than what we need,” he said, but many other growing cities along the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio are looking for more water supplies today. Selling them excess water “will help drive down the cost,” Puente said.
Still, that will be an expensive proposition for those cities. At $100 million for 16 billion gallons, the water SAWS is buying costs $2,000 per acre-foot. That’s more than 10 times the wholesale cost of water that Austin pays.

“Who’s to say [other cities] want to buy this water at this very high price?” said Amy Hardberger, an assistant professor of water law and policy at St. Mary’s University. “At the end of the day, if you don’t find a buyer, you’re the buyer. … This is a huge monetary commitment.”
SAWS hopes to finish its negotiations on the project by September and then ask City Council members in October to approve the needed rate increases. Before that happens, Westbrook, the Post Oak Savannah district’s general manager, said, it’s premature to worry about the pipeline’s impact on Central Texas’ water supplies or whether it could deliver the amount of water San Antonio is counting on in the coming decades.

“How do you know that SAWS is going to get the deal done?” he asked. “If they don’t, then it’s a moot question.” If the deal does get done, and the aquifer drops more than is planned, Westbrook said, “we can restrict [pumping] later.”

Disclosure: The San Antonio Water System was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2012. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Posted: August 13, 2014 14:42   Go to blog
Conservation News and Info from TLTC August 13, 2014 14:21
Conservation related news from Texas and beyond...

 Texas Senator John Cornyn's Staff Visit the Storm Ranch
Ranch Protected by a Conservation Easement in Partnership with the Hill Country Conservancy 

On top of Peach Tree Hill, Storm Ranch
Pictured: (L to R) Frank Davis (Hill Country Conservancy); Sandy Edwards (Sen Cornyn's TX staff); Josh Storm (landowner); John Porter (Sen Cornyn's DC staff); Lori Olson (Texas Land Trust Council)...
Conservation related news from Texas and beyond...

 Texas Senator John Cornyn's Staff Visit the Storm Ranch
Ranch Protected by a Conservation Easement in Partnership with the Hill Country Conservancy 


On top of Peach Tree Hill, Storm Ranch
Pictured: (L to R) Frank Davis (Hill Country Conservancy); Sandy Edwards (Sen Cornyn's TX staff); Josh Storm (landowner); John Porter (Sen Cornyn's DC staff); Lori Olson (Texas Land Trust Council)
On Monday August 11th staff from the Hill Country Conservancy and Texas Land Trust Council attended a conservation easement site visit with two of Senator John Cornyn's staffers out to the beautiful Storm Ranch in Hays County, Central Texas. John Porter, from the Senator's Washington D.C. staff, as well as Sandy Edwards, Central Texas Regional Director for Senator Cornyn, accompanied our group which was led by Mr Josh Storm, a third generation landowner of the ranch and the current ranch manager.

Josh took all of us on a fabulous tour, showcasing the ranch's cattle operation using rotational grazing, articulating the ranch's "entire ecosystem" management approach. Mr. Storm was such a wonderful host and eloquently described how his family had put the ranch together over the years, and how it was becoming difficult for them to keep it intact...that is, until they discovered the conservation easement tool. Then, in 2005, after researching the conservation easement process and working in partnership with the Hill Country Conservancy of Austin, they began to place the ranch under permanent protection.

The Storm Family is now working on a 4th phase of a conservation easement on their gorgeous and nearly 6,000 acre ranch. Mr. Storm is an amazing ambassador for private lands conservation, how this conservation tool works, and how it can help Texas families.

For more info on the HCC Storm Ranch project, click HERE 

 

 

 

 

 

News Feed
Conservation Efforts Help Long Leaf Pines in E TX
Many thanks to staff of Senator for coming out to tour the Storm Ranch!TX Land Conservation=
Texas Launches New Website with Info on Restore Act Funding All in One Place
Great Article in Austin American Connecting Land Conservation and Water Qualtiy
 

Posted: August 13, 2014 14:21   Go to blog
Drought Conditions, August 2014August 13, 2014 12:07
Owners of private, residential wells should be urged to cooperate with the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) cutbacks. Not by regulation, not by government mandate but because it makes good common sense. Neighbors and neighborhoods must work together to conserve water for their own benefit, for the benefit of their properties, their land and their future. With the full understanding that they must help themselves because during a drought, during a period of insufficient aquifer recharge (rainfall), multiple residential water wells in a subdivision will draw themselves down...
Owners of private, residential wells should be urged to cooperate with the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) cutbacks. Not by regulation, not by government mandate but because it makes good common sense. Neighbors and neighborhoods must work together to conserve water for their own benefit, for the benefit of their properties, their land and their future. With the full understanding that they must help themselves because during a drought, during a period of insufficient aquifer recharge (rainfall), multiple residential water wells in a subdivision will draw themselves down. There are no major industries, no oil and gas production and no major agricultural irrigation in Western Hays County causing groundwater levels to decline; private, residential water users make up the majority of water used. The HTGCD cannot cause increased rainfall and they cannot control production from residential wells.  Local public water supply companies and their customers are already cooperating by cutting back on groundwater usage; rainwater collection systems on private homes and businesses are easing the demand on groundwater; there is no readily available surface water that is not already in demand by others; and there are no desalination projects in the works. Hauling water is valid as long as there are others who have excess water to sell - we borrow from one pocket to pay another.  Conservation is the only near term tool available to local residents and to the groundwater district. There appears to be sufficient groundwater available in Western Hays County to satisfy current demand if users can apply some common sense to production and conservation during periods of drought. You can be certain that it will rain and that it will flood; we can only hope that the Trinity Aquifer will recharge to a level that will get us through the next drought. Below is the latest from the HTGCD’s website Drought Management page.  The Pedernales River has met the 30 consecutive day trigger for drought stage Emergency while the Blanco River is on day 12 as of August 10th.  Once both rivers hit 30 consecutive days, the HTGCD office will announce the start date for drought stage Emergency including a mandatory 40% reduction of operating permit production.  Rain will impact these drought triggers if enough is recorded.  Groundwater production restrictions are mandated for those who have operating permits with the HTGCD.  Exempt well owners (Domestic, Residential and Agricultural use) do not have these production curtailments, but are encouraged to reduce their groundwater use.  The drop you save today may be the drop you have to drink tomorrow.

Rick Broun- HTGCD General Manager
Posted: August 13, 2014 12:07   Go to blog
LAND ALONG CYPRESS CREEK PRESERVEDAugust 08, 2014 9:47
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) has purchased 8.08 acres in Woodcreek known as the “The Bluffs on Cypress Creek”, which was slated to be developed into 46 condominiums.  The property sits adjacent to Cypress Creek on the south side of the Ranch Rd. 12 bridge.
The WVWA purchased the development rights and the land fee simple from the owners for $1.3 million through a contribution from a local donor...
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) has purchased 8.08 acres in Woodcreek known as the “The Bluffs on Cypress Creek”, which was slated to be developed into 46 condominiums.  The property sits adjacent to Cypress Creek on the south side of the Ranch Rd. 12 bridge.

The WVWA purchased the development rights and the land fee simple from the owners for $1.3 million through a contribution from a local donor. The WVWA was assisted in negotiations by Jeff Francell of the Texas Nature Conservancy and intends this purchase to become the first program related investment for the WVWA.

The WVWA after purchasing the property, spoke with Mayor Mike Steinert of Woodcreek, Mayor Steve Thurber of  Wimberley and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley to ask for their ideas and interest in participating in planning for possible future uses of the property.

WVWA Board President Malcom Harris said, “ This acquisition averts what could have been a significant water quality impact on Cypress Creek and stops a high density development from going into a very sensitive area next to the creek.  We look forward to working with the community leaders and local stakeholders to utilize this property as an example of conservation design for the Wimberley Valley.”

The Bluffs project was approved under a development agreement with City of Woodcreek in May of 2011. Executive Director, David Baker and WVWA expressed concerns to the City Council about the water quality and quantity impacts on Cypress Creek and the Trinity Aquifer at that time. The project could have been developed in an even denser development without the development agreement.

Mr. Baker approached the Bluffs project manager Robert Peerman earlier this year when he noticed signs going up and a road being built into the property and inquired as to the status of the project. The property was under contract to an Austin developer and the plan for the 46 condominiums was moving forward.  In May the developer backed out and Mr. Peerman contacted the WVWA and agreed to sell  the property to the Association. The Association secured financing and closed the sale on July 25th.

“This is a major victory for Cypress Creek and the Wimberley Valley”  Said Baker, We look forward to continuing to work with our local partners to create a vision for this beautiful property.”

Posted: August 08, 2014 9:47   Go to blog

Posted: August 08, 2014 9:46   Go to blog
Better Lights for Better Nights Conference August 15th in Dripping SpringsAugust 08, 2014 9:46

 
Learn what you and your community should know about outdoor lighting. The purpose of this educational conference is to provide you with experiences and information to allow you to have an in-depth understanding of the talking points and reasons others do or don't embrace controlling outdoor lighting. You'll be provided with real life experiences about how to approach the control of outdoor lighting with and without regulations. You'll get details on the creation and implementation of lighting ordinances and development agreements.  ......


Learn what you and your community should know about outdoor lighting. The purpose of this educational conference is to provide you with experiences and information to allow you to have an in-depth understanding of the talking points and reasons others do or don't embrace controlling outdoor lighting. You'll be provided with real life experiences about how to approach the control of outdoor lighting with and without regulations. You'll get details on the creation and implementation of lighting ordinances and development agreements.  ....» 


Friday, August 15, 2014 • Dripping Springs Ranch Park
We all want artificial light at night outdoors sometimes but let's do it right! Who wants to get rid of GLARE, reduce our ENERGY COSTS, stop LIGHT TRESPASS, understand how lighting affects our HEALTH, improve SAFETY, save the night for WILDLIFE, and restore our view of the STARS?
If you, your customers, or your community wants to address any of those issues, then you need to come to the Better Lights for Better Nights Conference.
The Conference is designed for a broad set of participants including:
* Local planners & municipal staff
* County and city officials
* Elected officials at all levels
* Educators and students
* Developers & Builders
* Realtors
* Property owners and managers
* Community leaders
* Outdoor lighting manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and designers
* Anyone interested in learning about light pollution
Posted: August 08, 2014 9:46   Go to blog
CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11August 08, 2014 9:44
(This CARD article ran in the Thursday, July 17 Wimberley View.)  Ask any forward-looking Texan to list the most crucial community issues facing our state and he or she is sure to put "water" near the top. Ongoing drought, record-low lake levels and failing water wells have every informed person concerned for our state's near future. Elected officials, cities, farmers, businesses, parents and involved citizens are seeking solutions...
Card Community Meeting Poster
(This CARD article ran in the Thursday, July 17 Wimberley View.)
 
Ask any forward-looking Texan to list the most crucial community issues facing our state and he or she is sure to put "water" near the top. Ongoing drought, record-low lake levels and failing water wells have every informed person concerned for our state's near future. Elected officials, cities, farmers, businesses, parents and involved citizens are seeking solutions. But will we find realistic answers - and soon enough? 

Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) believes meaningful results begin on a local level through individual awareness and effort. To help us all learn more about the risks facing our community and our future, CARD will host a free Community Meeting 

WATER CRISIS: Time to Get Serious!
6-9:30 p.m. Thursday, September 11th,
Wimberley Community Center
14068 Ranch Road 12
 
We hope you will mark the date and come join the conversation on why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. We'll have great speakers, useful tips, free refreshments and the rare and special opportunity to talk and work together as a community.
Join us at 6 pm to informally "Chat with the Experts" on ways to enhance your family's personal water plan. There will be several tables, all non-commercial, each with a specialist ready to discuss: Lawns, Household Water, Xeriscaping (low-water landscaping and gardening), Rainwater Collection, and the critical relationship between water and energy.

At 7 p.m., we'll move to the BIG water picture, with five outstanding speakers, starting with one of Texas' most respected water experts, Dr. Andy Sansom, Executive Director of Texas State University's Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Dr. Sansom will introduce the key issues and set the stage for the evening's discussions.

Our speakers will focus on past, present, and future water issues as well as innovative water solutions. On the program: Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner and a past president of the Texas Ground Water Association, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, a veteran of relief and water development program assessment in stressed nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America, and Bech Bruun of the Texas Water Development Board and a member of the Texas Environmental Flows Advisory Group.

As a bonus, at 9 p.m. the five key speakers, along with County Commissioner Will Conley, will join in a 30-minute panel discussion to answer audience questions.

CARD cordially invites you to join us for this community meeting as we learn first-hand more about the water crisis threatening our community and state, and consider plans and ideas to successfully weather the growing emergency.

Keep up with meeting updates on this website at hayscard.org, and help us get the word out with our poster.
Posted: August 08, 2014 9:44   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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