News

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...July 10, 2015 18:27
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Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    July 9, 2015
Hill Country NewsIndustrial Wind Development Public Meeting July 16 in Mason
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE) will be hosting a meeting July 16th to educate landowners about industrial wind development in Mason and Menard Counties. SOSHE’s recent member update also includes information about attempted legislation to end CREZ, the Blumenthal line and other news related to wind development, transmission and scenic blight...
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Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    
July 9, 2015

Hill Country News
Industrial Wind Development Public Meeting July 16 in Mason
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE) will be hosting a meeting July 16th to educate landowners about industrial wind development in Mason and Menard Counties. SOSHE’s recent member update also includes information about attempted legislation to end CREZ, the Blumenthal line and other news related to wind development, transmission and scenic blight. Read more
State Comptroller approves $300,000 to investigate monarch decline
Texas is getting involved in the investigation into why the monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 80% over the past 20 years. Concerns that the butterfly could become a federally-listed endangered species have prompted Comptroller Glen Hegar to fund research into the abundance and distribution of milkweed, a plant that is critical for the monarch’s migration, as well as the potential costs of a listing. Read more 

El Nino 2015
It seems like there has been a lot of discussion of an El Nino pattern this fall and the potential for higher than normal rainfall. While Texans try to make the most of the rains while we’ve got them, we wonder, what causes this pattern and what are the impacts in other places around the world? Check out this two minute video to learn more. Read more 

The History of Central Texas Floods
Raymond Slade, Jr., Registered Professional Hydrologist has been studying water resources in Central Texas for decades. Catastrophic flooding is not new to this region. Raymond’s study of historic floods in Austin provides lessons for the entire Hill Country region. Also, Ron Green of Southwest Research Institute studies advance warning for flooding in Karst regions. View these valuable presentations to learn more. Read more 

DSHS student grant to fund rainwater catchment system

Elena Lundeen wanted to help the water conservation problem, a need her community knows all too well. Her small idea became a grant-winning initiative that will continue to change the landscape of her school. Lundeen, a Dripping Springs junior, won a $1,000 grant from Rainwater Revival and Hill Country Alliance. The money will be used to develop a rainwater catchment system at the high school. Read more 

Protecting the nighttime view simple

Erin Green, Llano County Journal: Although light from Austin and other nearby cities is starting to threaten the nighttime darkness of the areas surrounding Llano and the rest of the Texas Hill Country, it is not too late to reverse the trend and protect the views of the heavens. That was the message from Matt Lara of the Hill Country Alliance, whose “Better Lights for Starry Nights” Dark Sky Program sought to address the importance of dark skies and ways  protect against light pollution, such as fixing wasteful outdoor lighting and safely, effectively and cost-efficiently lighting homes and businesses. Read more 

Scenic Texas Announces New Scenic Hill Country Chapter and Leadership
Scenic Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of Texas, announced the formation of its newest chapter, Scenic Hill Country, bringing the total number of state chapters to eight. The Scenic Hill Country Chapter will work to preserve, protect and enhance the Hill Country’s scenic vistas by educating the region on the values and principles of the Scenic City Certification Program, a project of Scenic Texas and its program partners. Read more 

LCRA: Lots of water for sale
In the latest sign of the drought’s ebbing, two top officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority met with Hays County commissioners to deliver a simple message: They have spare water for sale — lots of it. The river authority, which oversees the doling out of water from lakes Travis and Buchanan, the chief reservoirs for Central Texas, has enough unreserved water to meet the washing, bathing, drinking and watering needs of roughly 230,000 households, even during a repeat of dire drought conditions. Read more

Are we “overestimating” our resources?

It’s often said that many of our aquifers and rivers are already over-allocated in Texas. In 1922, seven Western states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California — drew up an agreement on how to divide the waters of the Colorado River. But there was one big problem with the plan: They overestimated how much water the river could provide. As a result, each state was promised more water than actually exists. Read more

Soil for Water, July 17 in Fredericksburg
Many Texans are unaware of the importance of soil health in catching and retaining rainwater. Microorganisms build soil organic matter and allow it to function like a sponge: holding rainwater for long periods of time and releasing it slowly into plants, springs, creeks, rivers and aquifers. If you are interested in learning how you can build the health of your soil and keep more rainfall on your land in both times of drought and rainfall, come to the first meeting of the Soil for Water program this July 17th in Fredericksburg. Read more

Upcoming Events
July

July 8 in Austin: Region K RWPG meeting and public hearing on the Initially Prepared Plan (IPP) - Details

July 14 in Austin - Sierra Club Meeting: Al Gore's Climate Reality Project - Details
July 15 in San Antonio - SAWS Community Conservation Meeting - Details

July 16 in Mason - SOSHCE Industrial Wind Development Public Meeting - Details

July 17 in Fredericksburg - Soil for Water: The role soil health plays in catching and holding rainwater - Details
July 23 in Rocksprings - Region J Public Meeting to discuss and receive comments in regards to the Initially Prepared Plan (IPP) - Details

July 27 in Kerrville - Do you know who's taking over your yard? - Details
August
August 11 in - Abandoned Well Education & Plugging - Details

August 11 in - Austin - Sierra Club Meeting: Lone Star Rail - Details

August 18 in - Buchanan Dam - Better Lights for Starry Nights - Details


August 22 in - Rainwater Potential - Details

August 25-27 in - San Marcos - The 4th Annual Texas Groundwater Summit - Details

Posted: July 10, 2015 18:27   Go to blog
June 28, 2015 15:43


STAND WITH TEXAS FLOOD VICTIMS!SIGN THE PETITIONThis petition will be delivered to Senator Ted Cruz:Concerns about climate change aren't just politics. Meet with Hays County residents to discuss their concerns about role of climate change in making Texas floods more severe!A letter from Scott & Carol Price, whose home was devastated in the Memorial Day flood in Wimberley, Texas:          Dear Majesta,
We never thought the floodwaters would reach our home more than 40 feet above the Blanco Riveroutside of Austin...


STAND WITH TEXAS FLOOD VICTIMS!

SIGN THE PETITION

This petition will be delivered to Senator Ted Cruz:
Concerns about climate change aren't just politics. Meet with Hays County residents to discuss their concerns about role of climate change in making Texas floods more severe!
A letter from Scott & Carol Price, whose home was devastated in the Memorial Day flood in Wimberley, Texas:
          Dear Majesta,
We never thought the floodwaters would reach our home more than 40 feet above the Blanco Riveroutside of Austin. But today, we and hundreds of our neighbors are rebuilding, mourning the loss of life and, painfully, coming to terms with what scientists say may be a new normal if we don’t rein in climate pollution.
That's why we were horrified to hear our Senator, Ted Cruz, brush off a question about climate change by saying, “In a time of tragedy, I think it's wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster.”

This tragedy shows exactly why Senator Cruz needs to face the facts on climate change — and with the help of Forecast the Facts members, we'll personally deliver that message to him in Austin with our neighbors next week.


Floods are common in the Texas Hill Country, but not like this one — a tsunami-like wall of water that was the highest recorded flood in the history of the state. Unfortunately, that record may not last as long as we'd like, as a warming climate is predicted to make flooding and extreme precipitation more frequent and severe. Our State Climatologist said that climate change likely even amplified this flood. Scientists point to record ocean temperatures and warmer air boosting the power of the storm.

As we sift through the damage, we’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors and local volunteers. Putting aside differences, our community is coming together to clean up the mess and build for the future. It's time to push Senator Cruz to do the same, and take responsibility for cleaning up climate pollution and building a cleaner future for his constituents.

Sincerely,
Carol and Scott Price, Texas Homeowners

MORE INFORMATION:

"More Rain Targeting Flood-Ravaged Texas; Did Climate Change Contribute to Floods?" New Day, CNN, 5-26-2015
"Gov. Abbot: The is the highest flood recorded in state of Texas," Austin American-Statesman, 5-25-2015
"Heavy Downpours Increasing" National Climate Assessment 2014, accessed 6-23-2015
"Climate Change May Have Souped up Record-Breaking Texas Deluge" Scientific American, 5-27-2015
"Climate Change, a Factor in Texas floods, Largely Ignored" Texas Tribune, 5-27-2015

Posted: June 28, 2015 15:43   Go to blog
HCA Press Release - Six Schools Win Grants to Fund Conservation ProjectsJune 04, 2015 14:18
June 4, 2015 Blanco Middle School
(Bee Cave, TX) Managers of the Rainwater Revival school grant program were happily overwhelmed with 13 terrific grant applications from Hill Country schools this year. Though all projects had merit, the three judges made difficult choices and picked six deserving schools to receive $1,000 awards each...

June 4, 2015
Blanco Middle School
Blanco Middle School

(Bee Cave, TX) Managers of the Rainwater Revival school grant program were happily overwhelmed with 13 terrific grant applications from Hill Country schools this year. Though all projects had merit, the three judges made difficult choices and picked six deserving schools to receive $1,000 awards each.

“Judging by the quantity and quality of proposals for rainwater catchment and water conservation projects this year, it’s clear that teachers and schools are putting a priority on helping students learn the value of water as an important shared resource,” said Karen Ford, who leads the Rainwater Revival event for the Hill Country Alliance.

The Rainwater Revival is a daylong educational event that takes place every fall amidst a festival-like atmosphere at a Hill Country venue. It brings together knowledgeable speakers, demonstrations, products, music, food and children’s activities to help citizens and businesses learn how to harvest rainwater for beneficial use.

At each year’s Revival, the ever-popular rain barrel art auction generates funds for the school grant program. The art barrels are 55-gallon drums turned in to functional works of art by Hill Country artists and high school art classes who volunteer their time and talent. Since it started in 2010, the Rainwater Revival art barrel auction and grant program have funded 19 schools for rainwater capture and water conserving projects.

“Designing, constructing and maintaining water conservation projects brings together math, science, economics and an early appreciation for conserving our precious natural resources,” said Christy Muse, executive director for Hill Country Alliance. “We are so grateful to know these teachers, parents, garden clubs and others are dedicated to teaching our young people how to capture and use rainwater and why it’s important to know and care about water.” 

2015 grants were awarded to:

Blanco Middle School (Blanco ISD): Seventh grade science and ecology teacher, Pam Meier, submitted the winning request to fund a 2,500 gallon rainwater catchment tank that will be used to water the school’s gardens. The project will benefit all 280 students in the middle school as the gardens provide locally grown food for the school cafeteria, and it will enhance learning in math, science, art, and language arts.

Clifton Career & Development High School (Austin ISD): This high school offers career and technical training for special education students, and their winning project to capture rain with a new 2,500 gallon tank will become part of the Horticulture curriculum managed by teacher, Clayton Vader.

Dawson Elementary (Austin ISD): Fourth grade teacher, Chelsa Capers, plans to bring rainwater harvesting to the school/community gardens on their campus to the benefit of all 345 students who will receive numerous science lessons involving the water cycle, natural resources, and conservation.
 
Dripping Springs High School (Dripping Springs ISD): High school junior, Elena Lundeen, is the driver behind this project to place a rainwater catchment tank inside the school’s 6,000 square foot, open air courtyard to water trees, raised beds and grass, thus reducing the school’s usage of expensive treated water for plant life and promoting sustainable technologies.

Magnolia Montessori for All (Austin charter school):  The school’s substantial gardens will be irrigated by a rainwater harvesting system funded by the grant. Garden coordinator, Nashielly Stein, will help the school’s 300 students, who work in the gardens daily, with lessons in science, nutrition, art, the importance of water conservation, and reducing potable water use.

Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls ISD): Students participating in the High School Horticulture Program will design, implement and operate a rainwater harvesting system to support the organic and aquaponic growing systems in the school’s greenhouses.  Mike Chesnut, MFHS Horticulture teacher, will oversee the project.

A full copy of the 2015 winning grant requests and information on past winners can be found at: www.rainwaterrevival.com.

The Rainwater Revival is an annual celebration of collection, conservation and common sense. The free event is sponsored by the Hill Country Alliance, and the next event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. For more information: www.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. Visit us at www.hillcountryalliance.org.      
Posted: June 04, 2015 14:18   Go to blog
CORRECTION: HCA Press Release - Texas Water Symposium, June 18 in FredericksburgJune 04, 2015 14:13
Texas Water Symposium to Feature Regional Water ExpertsThe 8th Annual Texas Water Symposium series continues this June in Fredericksburg with a personal conversation between Hill Country water experts about the State’s water planning process and the need for public participation. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, increasing demands on our water supply and cycles of intense drought and floods, it is essential that the public is aware of the water infrastructure planning process that is happening now. Read full media release...
Texas Water Symposium to Feature Regional Water Experts
The 8th Annual Texas Water Symposium series continues this June in Fredericksburg with a personal conversation between Hill Country water experts about the State’s water planning process and the need for public participation. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, increasing demands on our water supply and cycles of intense drought and floods, it is essential that the public is aware of the water infrastructure planning process that is happening now. Read full media release.

Posted: June 04, 2015 14:13   Go to blog
Hays County Groundwater Bill Heads to Governor's DeskJune 04, 2015 13:58

Hays County Groundwater Bill Heads to Governor's Deskby Neena Satija

A bill designed to protect western Hays County residents' water wells in light of a massive groundwater pumping project is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk — following an emotional week of political drama over an issue once considered local and relatively uncontroversial.

House Bill 3405, by state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, was thought to be dead this week, after a "point of order" by Rep. Mary González, D-El Paso, targeting the legislation was sustained...

Hays County Groundwater Bill Heads to Governor's Desk

by

A bill designed to protect western Hays County residents' water wells in light of a massive groundwater pumping project is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk — following an emotional week of political drama over an issue once considered local and relatively uncontroversial.

House Bill 3405, by state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, was thought to be dead this week, after a "point of order" by Rep. Mary González, D-El Paso, targeting the legislation was sustained. But in a stunning reversal on Thursday night, the House granted a last-minute reprieve when the parliamentarian announced he had made an error in legal reasoning when he upheld González's action.

With the point of order ruling reversed, HB 3405 was allowed to go to a conference committee of senators and House members. The Senate approved the updated proposal Saturday with a 28-3 vote. On Sunday, the House approved HB 3405 with a vote of 143-1.
"It's just a huge victory for Hays County," Isaac said shortly after the vote. "I'm kind of in shock a little bit. ... It'll be great for Hays County and great for protecting our natural resources." 
HB 3405 would expand the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District to include water wellfields owned by Houston-based company Electro Purification. The company plans to pump up to 5 million gallons of water daily from the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County — an unprecedented amount for the already parched area — and sell it to some of Austin's fastest-growing Hill Country suburbs. With the land not currently in a conservation district, the company's project would happen with virtually no oversight. 

If HB 3405 passes, Electro Purification would have to report to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer district how much water it withdraws from the Trinity Aquifer and potentially be subject to pumping limits.  

The company's lawyer, Ed McCarthy, did not return a phone call seeking comment. 
It's the only legislation in a volley of bills aimed at Electro Purification that survived the session, and was expected to be the least controversial. 

No one testified against the bill when it was taken up by the Senate's Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee. Both Electro Purification and a city councilman from Buda, which aims to buy some of its water, told lawmakers they supported it. But in an interview Thursday, González told the Tribune she was concerned the bill "set a really bad precedent and could harm local communities." She said Buda residents along with "multiple other stakeholders" contacted her with concerns.

After the vote Sunday, Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said in a statement: "We pray that under HB 3405, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will uphold the constitutional property owner and existing contract water rights of our citizens. Without the immediate delivery of water through our current contract, our city, which is one of the fastest growing in the country, will suffer a water shortage in the near future."

González's point of order angered residents of Hays County, as well as Isaac and state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. "It is a very disappointing development to have a lawmaker from El Paso — hundreds of miles away from my district — insert themselves into a local bill against the will of the people and against the elected officials who represent them," Campbell told the Tribune in a statement Thursday.  

On Sunday, González voted in favor of the bill. "I'm happy for Jason Isaac. I know it was important to him," she said in a brief interview on the House floor after the vote. "I still have my same concerns, but I'm happy for him." 

The legislative tussle also caught the attention of Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, who was in Hays County on Thursday touring the devastation wrought in the community by last week's flooding. There, local officials appealed to him for help moving the bill forward. 

"I am grateful that the House reversed the [point of order on HB 3405] because it is the number one legislative issue for Hays County," Patrick said in a statement Friday. "After visiting Wimberley to survey the flood damage, I believe this bill is even more critical." 

There's no guarantee HB 3405 would stop or even curtail Electro Purification's project. The company is drilling test wells right now to determine how much water it can pump. Once it starts producing water to sell, no district can retroactively cancel its ability to do so. In addition, if the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District does impose limits on the company's pumping, it's likely to end up in court, where it is by no means guaranteed to win. 

Jay Root and John Reynolds contributed reporting.
Posted: June 04, 2015 13:58   Go to blog
Post-Flood Riparian Recovery Workshops Planned for Wimberley and Blanco CommunitiesJune 04, 2015 12:21
In the wake of the Memorial Day 2015 floods that roared through Central Texas, people in the Hill Country are left grappling with the aftermath. Images of hundred-year-old cypress trees, stripped bare of their bark and ripped up from their roots, inevitably turn our minds to our creeks and rivers and prompts the question- what can we do to heal our streamsides? 
 
In the wake of the Memorial Day 2015 floods that roared through Central Texas, people in the Hill Country are left grappling with the aftermath...
In the wake of the Memorial Day 2015 floods that roared through Central Texas, people in the Hill Country are left grappling with the aftermath. Images of hundred-year-old cypress trees, stripped bare of their bark and ripped up from their roots, inevitably turn our minds to our creeks and rivers and prompts the question- what can we do to heal our streamsides? 
 
In the wake of the Memorial Day 2015 floods that roared through Central Texas, people in the Hill Country are left grappling with the aftermath. Images of hundred-year-old cypress trees, stripped bare of their bark and ripped up from their roots, inevitably turn our minds to our creeks and rivers and prompts the question- what can we do to heal our streamsides?

 This first in a series of Recovery Workshops has been planned to help landowners identify the steps they can take to improve the health of their riparian areas (where the river and land intersect). Each workshop will include 1 hour of discussion indoors followed by a 1 hour field trip.

Wednesday, June 10th 9:30 – 11:30 am
Old Blanco Courthouse in the City of Blanco
  
Thursday, June 11th 5-7 pm
 Turkey Hollow Ranch in Burnett Ranches subdivision (rsvp for directions)
  
Friday, June 12th 8 am breakfast, 9-11 am workshop
Wimberley Community Center

These workshops are being coordinated in partnership of The Nature Conservancy, the Hill Country Alliance, the Texas Forest Service, Hays County Master Naturalists, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Speakers include representatives from Texas Forest Service, and Steve Nelle, retired Natural Resource Conservation Service State Wildlife Biologist. Speakers will cover the do’s and don’ts of riparian recovery.

Email Rachael Ranft rranft@tnc.org or call Vanessa Martin (512) 623-7249 for more information.

Download Flyer 


“What is most important for damaged creek and river channels and the riparian area is to re-establish strong stabilizing vegetation.”
- Steve Nelle, retired NRCS biologist

Nine Recommendations for Riparian Recovery

1. The broken and uprooted cypress can be good for the future health and stability of the river.
2. Leave large and small woody debris in place, if possible. Do not burn, remove, or saw it up in small pieces. The wood helps to dissipate energy, and stabilize banks, channel and floodplain.
3. These debris piles are where new plants will establish easily. This is nature’s way to hasten recovery.
4. Minimize or eliminate tractors and large equipment unless absolutely necessary. Take protective measures if using heavy machinery.
5. Repairing banks, removing gravel, or altering the channel can do more harm than good to an already fragile area.
6. Be patient natural recovery processes are very effective when allowed to work.
7. Be very aggressive in killing axis deer they can be very detrimental to recovery.

8. Re-imagine what is a beautiful riparian area they are healthiest when thick with wood and vegetation, and most sensitive when clean and manicured.
9. Take photos now and every 6 12 months repeat photos at fixed points to show the recovery process. This will be very meaningful in the future.

- Steve Nelle, retired Natural Resource Conservation Service biologist 

Helpful Resources
Blanco River Valley Restoration Project Facebook Page: latest news and
events about efforts along the Blanco
Remarkable Riparian: educational materials including videos about riparian restoration.
Letting the River Heal: Hill Country Alliance newsletter
Don’t Give Up On Your Trees: Hays County Master Naturalists
document on critical first steps
Blanco River Restoration Tips: Mark Lundy video on Blanco restoration
Posted: June 04, 2015 12:21   Go to blog
Texas Tribune: After Error, Hays County Groundwater Bill is Revived by Matthew Watkins May 28, 2015May 29, 2015 8:32
Enlarge                                             photo by: Bob Daemmrich State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, on the floor of the House on May 15, 2015.


 Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from state Sen. Donna Campbell.
A bill designed to protect western Hays County residents' water wells received a surprising, last-minute reprieve Thursday night — after a procedural error killed the legislation the day before. 





The reprieve, announced seconds before the House adjourned for the day, left the bill's author, Rep...
State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, on the floor 
of the House on May 15, 2015.



 Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from state Sen. Donna Campbell.

A bill designed to protect western Hays County residents' water wells received a surprising, last-minute reprieve Thursday night — after a procedural error killed the legislation the day before. 






The reprieve, announced seconds before the House adjourned for the day, left the bill's author, Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stunned and crying at his desk. About a dozen members gathered around him, hugging and congratulating him. At one point, they all bowed their heads and prayed. 

Isaac said in an interview afterward that the legislation, House Bill 3405, was the most important bill he'd filed this session. It would expand the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District to include water wellfields owned by Houston-based company Electro Purification, which plans to pump up to 5 million gallons of water per day from western Hays County. The company plans to provide the water to Buda and surrounding areas. 

The company's fields aren't currently under the jurisdiction of any groundwater district, and residents were worried that so much pumping would cause their own wells to run dry. Once news spread of Electro Purification's plans, a passionate group of activists mobilized and pushed for Isaac's legislation. 

On Wednesday night, the bill appeared to die. State Rep. Mary González, D-El Paso, had raised a point of order — a parliamentary maneuver that involves asking whether a House rule has been violated that would kill the bill. The point of order was sustained, and it was too late in the session to resuscitate the bill. 

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, was manning the House speaker's desk Thursday when the reversal was announced, after the House had been standing at ease for about 30 minutes. Isaac said he had no idea it was coming, and had almost left for the day. 

"It caught me by complete surprise," he said. "It has just been a really rough day because of what happened yesterday. I have been in a bad mood all day thinking that the one issue that people sent me here to do for them, I couldn't get done."

The bill will now go to conference committee, where it will be worked out with a slightly tweaked version that passed in the Senate. 

"Today we are back on the battlefield," Isaac said. "It is not done yet, but we are back on the battlefield."

In a statement, Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, HB 3405's Senate sponsor, praised the efforts to revive the bill.

"The efforts of Hays County residents to protect the groundwater of property owners remains alive and well as a result of" the recent developments, Campbell said. "Thank you to Speaker Straus and Lt. Governor Patrick for their leadership and to Rep. Isaac for standing, fighting, and clawing with me up to the last second to keep this crucial bill alive for Hays County."

As he left the House floor Thursday evening, Isaac said he still didn't know why the point of order ruling had been reversed. 

"I'm going to go visit with the speaker's team and the parliamentarian, but I'm probably not going to ask why," he said. "I'm just going to say thanks."

González, who has said she felt the legislation set a poor precedent and could harm rural communities, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Neena Satija and Jim Malewitz contributed to this report. 
Posted: May 29, 2015 8:32   Go to blog
Flood and disaster relief for Hays and Blanco May 28, 2015 13:18
Some locations are subject to change as the situation develops.

If you know anyone who needs the information, please pass along.
Hays County   1) Hays County Food Bank
  The most needed items for disaster relief are high-protein canned meals with pop-top cans (ravioli, soups, spaghetti, tuna, salmon, chicken, beans, chili), single serving meals that do not require refrigeration or cooked/meals ready to eat, single serving snacks such as raisins, granola bars, and nuts, peanut butter, canned fruits/veggies...
Some locations are subject to change as the situation develops.

If you know anyone who needs the information, please pass along.

Hays County
 
1) Hays County Food Bank
 
The most needed items for disaster relief are high-protein canned meals with pop-top cans (ravioli, soups, spaghetti, tuna, salmon, chicken, beans, chili), single serving meals that do not require refrigeration or cooked/meals ready to eat, single serving snacks such as raisins, granola bars, and nuts, peanut butter, canned fruits/veggies.

Donate Food: Food donations are accepted until further notice at: 
  • 220 Herndon St, San Marcos
  • Cabela’s, 15570 S IH 35 Frontage Rd, Buda, TX 78610
  • Living Word Lutheran Church, 2315 Ranch Rd 967, Buda, TX 78610
  • Barton Middle School, 4950 Jack C. Hays Trail, Kyle, TX 78610
  • Broadway Bank, 320 E Hwy 290, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
  • Wallace Middle School, 1500 West Center, Kyle, TX 78640
  • Chapa Middle School, 3311 Dacy Lane, Kyle, TX 78640
  • Broadway Bank, 320 E Hwy 290, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Donate Funds: Donate online NOW. Checks can be mailed to Hays County Food Bank, 220 Herndon Street, San Marcos, TX 78666

2) Legal Aid Hotline for Disaster Victims through Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
1-866-757-1570
3) Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer Centers are open San Marcos and Wimberley,

Wimberley Volunteer Reception Service:
Cypress Creek Church, 211 Stillwater, 8 a.m.-  5 p.m.

SM Volunteer Center (512.753.2320):
San Marcos Plaza Park, 206 C.M.Allen Parkway, 8 a.m. - 5 pm
Coordinated by City of San Marcos, Hays County, and AmeriCorps

The City and County have hundreds of people and organizations actively volunteering—we ask them to coordinate through our Volunteer Reception Centers so that their efforts may be as effective as possible. City, County and AmeriCorps are coordinating volunteers and organizations.

4) Call Center
A Call Center has been set up in San Marcos for county-wide, disaster-related questions at 512-754-2275

5) Large donations: If you have equipment or large donations, they can be delivered to:
Old Springtown Mall between 8-5 pm.
200 Springtown Way
San Marcos, TX 78666

6) More INFO
sanmarcostx.gov/smtxflood           
facebook.com/cityofsanmarcos
twitter.com/cityofsanmarcos
haysinformed.com
servesanmarcos.com

 


Blanco County

1) Donations: please contact Connie Barron at Blanco City Hall at (830) 833-4525

2) The Blanco County Emergency Management Facebook page will be updated regularly by the Blanco County Emergency Management team:

https://www.facebook.com/BlancoCountyOEM

3) If you have any questions regarding the flooding incident, have information to share, or would like to help, please send an email to: blancoflood@nbcems.org.

4) Additional resources are as follows:

www.CityofBlanco.com
Blanco County Relief Facebook page 
The City of Blanco Facebook page
The County of Blanco 


Please go to the Blanco City Hall and register as a volunteer, find where to take donations and/or offer services.

The Blanco County Sheriff's Office is (830) 868-7104
 
Posted: May 28, 2015 13:18   Go to blog
Hays County officials testing well water samplesMay 28, 2015 13:13
 KVUE 4:58 p.m. CDT May 27, 2015

 SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Individuals wishing to test their private well water after recent flooding can obtain a sample container and directions on sampling water from the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center in San Marcos.
Residents can bring samples back with fees and the sample will be tested for coliform within 24 to 48 hours.



Click on the links below for detailed information...
 KVUE 4:58 p.m. CDT May 27, 2015

 SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Individuals wishing to test their private well water after recent flooding can obtain a sample container and directions on sampling water from the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center in San Marcos.
Residents can bring samples back with fees and the sample will be tested for coliform within 24 to 48 hours.



Click on the links below for detailed information.

How to collect water samples:

How to disinfect your well:

Individuals can call the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center in the Aquatic Biology building, on Sessoms Drive, across from Salt Grass Steak House in San Marcos.  

They can obtain a sample container and directions to sample.  

They will bring their sample back with the appropriate fee and the sample will be tested for coliform within 24-48 hours.

The phone number is 512-245-2329.

Posted: May 28, 2015 13:13   Go to blog
Obama pledges federal help for Texas flood victims May 27, 2015 17:30
Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images President Obama pledged federal help Tuesday for search and rescue efforts associated with the extreme flooding in Texas.

"I will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to Washington," Obama said after speaking with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "My pledge to him is that we will expedite those requests."

Obama noted that are Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel already on the ground in Texas, and they will work with state authorities.

"I assured Gov...
Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images
 President Obama pledged federal help Tuesday for search and rescue efforts associated with the extreme flooding in Texas.

"I will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to Washington," Obama said after speaking with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "My pledge to him is that we will expedite those requests."

Obama noted that are Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel already on the ground in Texas, and they will work with state authorities.

"I assured Gov. Abbott that he could count on the help of the federal government," Obama said.
Posted: May 27, 2015 17:30   Go to blog
Texas Flash Floods: 'This is the Worst Thing I've Ever Seen' May 27, 2015 17:17
Tue, May 26
The small town of Wimberley, Texas is no stranger to flash floods, but even trees that stood through centuries were no match for this latest storm.
Click below to see the video from the NBC Nightly News

http://www.nbcnews...

Tue, May 26

The small town of Wimberley, Texas is no stranger to flash floods, but even trees that stood through centuries were no match for this latest storm.

Click below to see the video from the NBC Nightly News

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/texas-flash-floods---this-is-the-worst-thing-i-ve-ever-seen--451932739569 

Posted: May 27, 2015 17:17   Go to blog
At Least 19 Die After Storms in Texas and OklahomaMay 27, 2015 17:17
By Erin McClam and Elisha Fieldstadt
Click here for the original story and videos

 
 A third body was found near the Blanco River in Texas Tuesday, bringing the death toll in that state and in Oklahoma to at least 19 after weekend storms dumped rain on the region and caused devastating floods...


A third body was found near the Blanco River in Texas Tuesday, bringing the death toll in that state and in Oklahoma to at least 19 after weekend storms dumped rain on the region and caused devastating floods.

Fourteen people are missing in Texas, including eight members of two families that were staying in a vacation home that was swept away by a tsunami-like "wall of water" that roared down the Blanco River in Wimberley over the weekend following a wave of torrential rain, Hays County Commissioner Will Conley said.

The National Weather Service said that more rain could be on the way for hard-hit parts of Texas, with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for the Houston area through 1 a.m. Wednesday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the communities that have been affected by some of these devastating, record-breaking floods," President Barack Obama said Tuesday. Obama pledged federal assistance to the region.

Search-and-rescue operations were continuing, on land and from air, across a landscape where centuries-old trees had been ripped away by the 44-foot storm surge. "It looks like a savannah," Conley said.

At least 12 people died in Texas, authorities said, including a 14-year-old boy in Desoto who was found in a storm drain, and Alyssa Ramirez, an 18-year-old homecoming queen whose car was swept off the road as she returned home from prom in Devine on Sunday, authorities said.

Four of the deaths in Texas were in Houston, the city's government said in a statement. One of the dead is believed to have been one of three people who are missing after being swept away when a boat capsized during a rescue effort, but that had not been confirmed by Tuesday night.

Texas official: Search and rescue in effect

By Tuesday afternoon three bodies have been found near the Blanco River in Hays and nearby Caldwell counties, which flooded over the weekend and swept away the home. Authorities said identification is pending, and described them as two men and one woman.

The missing in Hays County range from 4 to 81 years old, and were last seen in the area of the Blanco River, the Hays County Sheriff's Office said. Earlier Tuesday 13 people were reported missing in Hays County, but two of those were found safe, bringing the number down to 11, authorities said.

There have been seven weather-related deaths in Oklahoma since Friday, including a Claremore firefighter who died during a water rescue, and a 33-year-old woman who died in a storm-related traffic crash in Tulsa.

A 48-year-old woman in Oklahoma was killed Monday after a tornado struck Bryan County, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said.

The floodwaters affected virtually every part of Houston and paralyzed some areas. Firefighters carried out more than 500 water rescues, most involving stranded motorists. At least 2,500 vehicles were abandoned by drivers seeking higher ground, officials said.

Texas Floods: Two Families Missing After Vacation Home Swept Away
     

"Given the magnitude and how quickly it happened, in such a short period of time, I've never seen this before," said Rick Flanagan, Houston's emergency management coordinator.
By Tuesday evening, all bayous and creeks except for a portion of the San Jacinto River returned to their banks after some areas of the Harris County was hit with up to 11 inches of rain, the Harris County Flood Control District said.

Power remained out for more than 25,000 customers in the Houston area by 8 p.m. Tuesday, down from a high of 88,000 outages early Tuesday morning, CenterPoint Energy said.
Seventy homes were destroyed in Hays County and another 1,400 properties were damaged. If not for a phone notification system, "God knows how many people we would have lost," Conley said.
In Houston, officials believe the number of severely damaged homes could reach 4,000.


There is the possibility of more showers for parts of southeast Texas, including Houston. Storms are expected to be scattered, but a cell could produce flash flooding in Houston if a storm forms over already-inundated areas, the NWS said.

Texas Officials: 44 Foot Wall of Water 'Destroyed Everything in its Path'

Houston Intercontinental Airport smashed its all-time record for most rainfall in one day on Monday — its 4.34 inches almost doubling the previous milestone set in 1946.
"The rain just kept coming, and coming, and coming," said Ashley Aivles, a 25-year-old call center worker who struggled to make it back to her home in a Houston suburb early Tuesday. 

All Houston MTERO rail and bus services were canceled until flood waters receded. Limited rail service resumed at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and buses on major lines began running in the afternoon, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County said. 

Texas, Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas have been experiencing extreme drought conditions for the past five years. That left the soil "like concrete," which typically exacerbates flooding conditions, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. 

But the latest round of flooding in Texas and Oklahoma can be attributed to sustained rainfall, including the equivalent of 12 to 16 inches above normal falling in the past 30 days, Svoboda said.
"The soil is too full. It's oversaturated with water," he said. "There's been too much, too soon, after you've had so little for such a long period of time." 

— with Erik Ortiz and Jon Schuppe
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted: May 27, 2015 17:17   Go to blog
CALL THE TEXAS SENATE NOW! SUPPORT SENATOR CAMBELL'S LOCAL BILL TO PROTECT OUR WATERMay 19, 2015 12:26
Dear Hays County Neighbors, 

Thank you for your efforts to help move House Bill 3405 one step closer to the Governors desk and becoming law.  We need your help now to please write or call all 30 Senators and the Lt. Governor today (Tues. May 19th)!   As always please be respectful and brief as this is a very busy time for the Senators and their staffs.     As expected, Sen. Charles Perry forced unacceptable amendments to HB3405 on Monday in his committee.  The good news is that the bill was passed out of committee and is beyond his meddling...
Dear Hays County Neighbors, 

Thank you for your efforts to help move House Bill 3405 one step closer to the Governors desk and becoming law.  We need your help now to please write or call all 30 Senators and the Lt. Governor today (Tues. May 19th)!  
As always please be respectful and brief as this is a very busy time for the Senators and their staffs.  
  
 As expected, Sen. Charles Perry forced unacceptable amendments to HB3405 on Monday in his committee.  The good news is that the bill was passed out of committee and is beyond his meddling.  Now Senator Campbell needs your support so she can fix the bill before it is voted on by the whole Senate.  

The message tomorrow should be something like the following in your own words:

"I am a citizen of Hays County.  I support my senator, Donna Campbell, and her efforts to pass HB 3405 and SB1440 to protect my private property rights to my groundwater.  These bills deal with a local issue and I'm asking Sen. ________ to support Sen. Campbell's efforts to protect Hays County's interests."

There is really no reason to try to go into explanations or strategies that the other senators won't understand.  The message is simple.  Support Donna Campbell on a local issue.  That should be enough to get her the votes she needs to fix the bills. 
 
We are asking you to call or write all 30 Texas senators and the Lt. Governor:





Phone Email Twitter
Lt. Governor 


Dan Patrick 512-463-1001 dan.patrick@senate.state.tx.us; logan@danpatrick.org @DanPatrick




Senators:
Brian Birdwell 512-463-0122 brian.birdwell@senate.state.tx.us; brian@brianbirdwell.net   @SenatorBirdwell

512-463-0110 konni.burton@senate.state.tx.us @KonniBurton
Konni Burton
Brandon Creighton 512-463-0104 brandon.creighton@senate.state.tx.us @SenCreighton
Rodney Ellis 512-463-0113 rodney.ellis@senate.state.tx.us @rodneyellis
Kevin Eltife 512-463-0101 kevin.eltife@senate.state.tx.us
Craig Estes 512-463-0130 craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us @EstesForTexas
Troy Fraser 512-463-0124 troy.fraser@senate.state.tx.us
Sylvia Garcia 512-463-0106 sylvia.garcia@senate.state.tx.us @SenatorSylvia
Bob Hall 512-463-0102 bob.hall@senate.state.tx.us
Kelly Hancock 512-463-0109 kelly.hancock@senate.state.tx.us @KHancock4TX
Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa 512-463-0120 juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us @TxChuy
Don Huffines 512-463-0116 don.huffines@senate.state.tx.us @DonHuffines
Joan Huffman 512-463-0117 joan.huffman@senate.state.tx.us @joanhuffman
Lois Kolkhorst 512-463-0118 lois.kolkhorst@senate.state.tx.us @loiskolkhorst
Eddie Lucio, Jr. 512-463-0127 eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx.us @SenatorLucio
Jose Menendez 512-463-0126 jose.menendez@senate.state.tx.us
Jane Nelson 512-463-0112 jane.nelson@senate.state.tx.us @SenJaneNelson
Robert Nichols 512-463-0103 robert.nichols@senate.state.tx.us
Jose Rodriguez 512-463-0129 jose.rodriguez@senate.state.tx.us @Josefortexas
Charles Schwertner 512-463-0105 charles.schwertner@senate.state.tx.us @DrSchwertner
Kel Seliger 512-463-0131 kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us @kseliger
Larry Taylor 512-463-0111 larry.taylor@senate.state.tx.us @Taylor4Senate
Van Taylor 512-463-0108 van.taylor@senate.state.tx.us @VanTaylorTX
Carlos Uresti 512-463-0119 carlos.uresti@senate.state.tx.us @CarlosUresti
Kirk Watson 512-463-0114 kirk.watson@senate.state.tx.us @KirkPWatson
Royce West 512-463-0123 royce.west@senate.state.tx.us @SenRoyceWest
John Whitmire 512-463-0115 john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us @whitemire_john
Judith Zaffirini 512-463-0121 judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us @JudithZaffirini



PLEASE CALL OR SEND EMAILS THIS WEEK!  and Representative Jason Issac jason.isaac@house.state.tx.us for their leadership and cooperation to reconcile HB 3405 and SB 1440. This local legislation needs to ensure there will be no grandfathering and that the final bill will provide the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District with the necessary authority to protect your private property rights, groundwater wells and local springs that feed our creeks and rivers.

Many Thanks!


























































































































Posted: May 19, 2015 12:26   Go to blog
Conservation District preps for annexationMay 18, 2015 13:41
  The Region Monday, May 18, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

With two major bills pending in Texas’ legislative session, officials with the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District discussed a potentially rushed timeline at their regular meeting Thursday.
In March, legislators put forward House Bill 3405 and Senate Bill 1440 to address Houston-based water supplier Electro Purification’s plans to pump 5 million gallons of water per day from the Trinity Aquifer...
  The Region Monday, May 18, 2015 by Courtney Griffin


With two major bills pending in Texas’ legislative session, officials with the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District discussed a potentially rushed timeline at their regular meeting Thursday.

In March, legislators put forward House Bill 3405 and Senate Bill 1440 to address Houston-based water supplier Electro Purification’s plans to pump 5 million gallons of water per day from the Trinity Aquifer.

The company is set to drill in an unregulated area within Hays County, which has nearby residents wondering how the EP well project will affect their water supplies.
 
“We’re trying to balance what’s in front of us regarding annexation and the prospect of how quickly that could be effective,” John Dupnik, BSEACD’s general manager, told district directors. “We’re trying to balance being prepared for that without doing so much that we’ve wasted a lot of work, in case it doesn’t happen.”

Between the staffing plan and the potential uptick in workloads that may take place if the annexation becomes a reality, Board President Mary Stone said directors would be willing to meet on a weekly basis to ensure the process runs smoothly.

“I don’t know, with all those decisions, if we can wait two or three weeks sometimes,” Stone said. “I don’t think we want board meetings to delay things.”

Dupnik said if the conservation district annexes the land, EP’s current proposed drilling capacity — a total of 37.1 million gallons a day from its seven wells — would have to undergo the district’s permitting process, which could vastly redefine the allowed pumping.
BSEACD was chosen over the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District because of its greater regulatory powers permitted by law, Dupnik said.

In addition to the unregulated area that encapsulates some of Hays County and the City of San Marcos, however, the two bills put an additional portion of Travis County under BSEACD’s jurisdiction.

The second unregulated area is just south of the Colorado River, between Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 183, in the area where Riverside Drive and Oltorf Street are located.
Groundwater there is mainly brackish, which is why the area has remained largely undeveloped, Dupnik said.

“Here’s why we want to annex it: If someone was to put a big well right along (the east side of the current I-35 border),” Dupnik said, pointing to a spot near the intersection of South Congress and I-35, “they can pull all the fresh water (from the other side).”

Barton Springs is vulnerable to similar stunts if the area remains unregulated, he said. Advances in salinization technology have increased risks to the aquifer as well.

The two annexed areas would increase BSEACD’s jurisdiction by about 200 square miles. The annexation is expected to cost anywhere from $560,000 to $813,000 initially, including the cost of hiring another two full-time employees. After the startup period, the change would likely cost less than $300,000 to maintain. But BSEACD is looking at possibly sharing costs with affected counties, Dupnik said.

Directors also discussed the need to find two additional representatives for the new areas, a requirement of the bills. It would increase board membership from five to seven directors.
“It might not be a bad idea to start getting the word out, start thinking about folks out here that might be good temporary appointments,” Dupnik said to directors.
BSEACD is also trying to inform affected residents about a crucial time window, if the bills become law.

Existing well owners must apply for a temporary permit with BSEACD within 90 days after the law goes into effect to ensure that they can keep pumping. The district anticipates that an estimated 30 well owners will be affected. It will not tax any annexed areas.

SB 1440, proposed by state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), passed out of committee May 6 but has yet to be placed on the Senate’s calendar for discussion.
HB 3405, proposed by state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), passed out of the House May 8 and has been received by the Senate.

Both bills must be read on the Senate floor for a third time by May 27.

Ed McCarthy, a lawyer with EP, told the Austin Monitor that the company “has said this whole time that they are not opposed to being in a district. With some of the legislation, the problem has been EP wasn’t allowed to come to the table and talk about the legislation. It was only about a month ago … that EP was allowed to voice some concerns.”

BartonSprings MainSpring” by Brad606 at en.wikipediaLicensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Posted: May 18, 2015 13:41   Go to blog
Still buying tickets on the EP Titanic | San Marcos RecordMay 18, 2015 10:32
Still buying tickets on the EP Titanic Sun, 05/17/2015 - 6:31am Anita Miller In case you have been out of the country this year and missed out on one of the most inglorious launches in recent history, Houston-based corporation Electro Purification still wants to pump more than five million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer in Central Hays County.  Their contracts will pipe this water east to Buda, Goforth Water SUD and the private Anthem development near Mountain City.  Not since declaring the Titanic unsinkable has there been such an expensive and ill-conceived concept...

Still buying tickets on the EP Titanic

Posted: May 18, 2015 10:32   Go to blog
SB 2075 to strip the power of eminent domain from the Needmore Ranch Municipal Utility District (MUD).May 18, 2015 10:23
Dear GEAA members and friends,

Yesterday, I received news that Senator Donna Campbell has permission to introduce SB 2075 to strip the power of eminent domain from the Needmore Ranch Municipal Utility District (MUD).

The Needmore Ranch MUD has been a tremendously controversial development planned to add thousands of new homes in Wimberley Valley in Hays County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation. According to this report in the Texas Observer, “Between 1980 and 2012, Hays county’s population more than quadrupled, from 41,000 to 169,000...
Dear GEAA members and friends,

Yesterday, I received news that Senator Donna Campbell has permission to introduce SB 2075 to strip the power of eminent domain from the Needmore Ranch Municipal Utility District (MUD).

The Needmore Ranch MUD has been a tremendously controversial development planned to add thousands of new homes in Wimberley Valley in Hays County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation. According to this report in the Texas Observer, “Between 1980 and 2012, Hays county’s population more than quadrupled, from 41,000 to 169,000. The mostly rural portion of the county west of I-35 could triple again by 2060, according to population estimates.  A 2011 report on water and wastewater commissioned by Hays County states flatly: “The ambience and sustainable picture desired by many in western Hays County is likely only achievable if growth is somehow significantly limited or is channeled into certain development areas.”  In other words, limits on and patterns of development should be determined by water.

According to the legislation that set up this MUD, the Needmore MUD would be able to condemn land only for the “purpose of importing surface water into the district.”
 
While Senator Campbell and Representative Isaac filed the legislation in 2013 that originally created the Needmore Ranch MUD, we are gratified to learn that Senator Campbell has been persuaded that the powers granted, in this case eminent domain, are too broad - empowering the MUD to take actions that might not be in the best interests of the community and neighboring landowners.
 
Here is her bill in its entirety:
 
We have seen similar problems with MUDs being played out over and over.  MUD’s create huge problems in the Hill Country because they are completely developer-driven.  The structure by which MUD’s are created for developers leaves the community with several different financial burdens.  Developers are constantly seeking different ways to lower their investment.  A common method for developers is to build MUD’s and Water Control Improvement Districts (WCID’s) using old and less efficient sewage treatment technology in order to lower the cost of the development.  In the case of the poorly built districts, the community is then left with the financial burden to operate and maintain the cheap, less efficient sewage infrastructure created by the developer.  GEAA is very concerned about the negative impact to our ground water from poorly designed sewage infrastructure. Over the years we have joined with groups in Comal, Hays, Bexar, and Medina counties to contest permits for substandard sewage infrastructure that would impact the Edwards Aquifer.
 
Another reason why developer-driven MUD’s and WCID’s present a problem to the Texas Hill Country is the sheer size of the communities that are being developed.  Many of these are high density developments located in environmentally sensitive areas.  New MUDs will add tens of thousands of new water connections in areas already having problems with water availability.  We are aware of legislation to create at least five new MUDs in the Hill Country this session. 

GEAA is requesting an interim hearing on the powers granted by the legislature to Municipal Utility Districts.  Please join us by contacting your State Representatives, Senators, and Speaker Joe Straus (joe.straus@speaker.state.tx.us) to request an interim hearing on the powers granted to Municipal Utility Districts.
 
The time to act on this is now.
 
Thank you,

Annalisa Peace
Executive Director
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
Check out GEAA’s Legislative Agenda for the 84th session and a list of the bills we support and oppose.
You can always keep up with interesting water news on GEAA's Face Book page
and, you can donate to GEAA on line or mail contributions to support GEAA to PO Box 15618, San Antonio, Texas 78212

Posted: May 18, 2015 10:23   Go to blog
If You Think the Water Crisis Can't Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained--NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ArticleMay 18, 2015 10:19
We're pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it's gone, the real crisis begins.
In ten years, the Colorado River Basin has lost the equivalent of two Lake Meads,the largest reservoir in the U.S., pictured here at dusk with Las Vegas in the background.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER ESSICK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 
Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs...
We're pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it's gone, the real crisis begins.
In ten years, the Colorado River Basin has lost the equivalent of two Lake Meads,
the largest reservoir in the U.S., pictured here at dusk with Las Vegas in the background.

Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.

We are at our best when we can see a threat or challenge ahead. If flood waters are rising, an enemy is rushing at us, or a highway exit appears just ahead of a traffic jam, we see the looming crisis and respond.


We are not as adept when threats—or threatened resources—are invisible. Some of us have trouble realizing why invisible carbon emissions are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and warming the planet. Because the surface of the sea is all we see, it's difficult to understand that we already have taken most of the large fish from the ocean, diminishing a major source of food. Neither of these crises are visible—they are largely out of sight, out of mind—so it's difficult to get excited and respond. Disappearing groundwater is another out-of-sight crisis.
Groundwater comes from aquifers—spongelike gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs—and we see this water only when it flows from springs and wells. In the United States we rely on this hidden—and shrinking—water supply to meet half our needs, and as drought shrinks surface water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, we rely on groundwater from aquifers even more. Some shallow aquifers recharge from surface water, but deeper aquifers contain ancient water locked in the earth by changes in geology thousands or millions of years ago. These aquifers typically cannot recharge, and once this "fossil" water is gone, it is gone forever—potentially changing how and where we can live and grow food, among other things.

California's Central Valley has seen a dramatic rise in well-drilling
this year to compensate for surface water lost from the drought.



A severe drought in California—now approaching four years long—has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes, and groundwater use has soared to make up the shortfall. A new report from Stanford University says that nearly 60 percent of the state's water needs are now met by groundwater, up from 40 percent in years when normal amounts of rain and snow fall.
Relying on groundwater to make up for shrinking surface water supplies comes at a rising price, and this hidden water found in California's Central Valley aquifers is the focus of what amounts to a new gold rush. Well-drillers are working overtime, and as Brian Clark Howard reported here last week, farmers and homeowners short of water now must wait in line more than a year for their new wells.
In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge. As Howard reported, Central Valley wells that used to strike water at 500 feet deep must now be drilled down 1,000 feet or more, at a cost of more than $300,000 for a single well. And as aquifers are depleted, the land also begins to subside, or sink.


Unlike those in other western states, Californians know little about their groundwater supply because well-drilling records are kept secret from public view, and there is no statewide policy limiting groundwater use. State legislators are contemplating a measure that would regulate and limit groundwater use, but even if it passes, compliance plans wouldn't be required until 2020, and full restrictions wouldn't kick in until 2040. California property owners now can pump as much water as they want from under the ground they own.
California's Central Valley isn't the only place in the U.S. where groundwater supplies are declining. Aquifers in the Colorado River Basin and the southern Great Plains also suffer severe depletion. Studies show that about half the groundwater depletion nationwide is from irrigation. Agriculture is the leading use of water in the U.S. and around the world, and globally irrigated farming takes more than 60 percent of the available freshwater.
The Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states, is losing water at dramatic rates, and most of the losses are groundwater. A new satellite study from the University of California, Irvine and NASA indicates that the Colorado River Basin lost 65 cubic kilometers (15.6 cubic miles) of water from 2004 to 2013. That is twice the amount stored in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., which can hold two years' worth of Colorado River runoff. As Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist and study co-author wrote here, groundwater made up 75 percent of the water lost in the basin.
Farther east, the Ogallala Aquifer under the High Plains is also shrinking because of too much demand. When the Dust Bowl overtook the Great Plains in the 1930s, the Ogallala had been discovered only recently, and for the most part it wasn't tapped then to help ease the drought. But large-scale center-pivot irrigation transformed crop production on the plains after World War II, allowing water-thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa for feeding livestock.
But severe drought threatens the southern plains again, and water is being unsustainably drawn from the southern Ogallala Aquifer. The northern Ogallala, found near the surface in Nebraska, is replenished by surface runoff from rivers originating in the Rockies. But farther south in Texas and New Mexico, water lies hundreds of feet below the surface, and does not recharge. Sandra Postel wrote here last month that the Ogallala Aquifer water level in the Texas Panhandle has dropped by up to 15 feet in the past decade, with more than three-quarters of that loss having come during the drought of the past five years. A recent Kansas State University study said that if farmers in Kansas keep irrigating at present rates, 69 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone in 50 years.

The Ogallala Aquifer supplies the water for center-pivot irrigation on farms in western Kansas.



This coincides with a nationwide trend of groundwater declines. A 2013 study of 40 aquifers across the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the rate of groundwater depletion has increased dramatically since 2000, with almost 25 cubic kilometers (six cubic miles) of water per year being pumped from the ground. This compares to about 9.2 cubic kilometers (1.48 cubic miles) average withdrawal per year from 1900 to 2008.
Scarce groundwater supplies also are being used for energy. A recent study from CERES, an organization that advocates sustainable business practices, indicated that competition for water by hydraulic fracturing—a water-intensive drilling process for oil and gas known as "fracking"—already occurs in dry regions of the United States. The February report said that more than half of all fracking wells in the U.S. are being drilled in regions experiencing drought, and that more than one-third of the wells are in regions suffering groundwater depletion.
Satellites have allowed us to more accurately understand groundwater supplies and depletion rates. Until these satellites, called GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), were launched by NASA, we couldn't see or measure this developing invisible crisis. GRACE has given us an improved picture of groundwater worldwide, revealing how supplies are shrinking in several regions vulnerable to drought: northern India, the North China Plain, and the Middle East among them.
As drought worsens groundwater depletion, water supplies for people and farming shrink, and this scarcity can set the table for social unrest. Saudi Arabia, which a few decades ago began pumping deep underground aquifers to grow wheat in the desert, has since abandoned the plan, in order to conserve what groundwater supplies remain, relying instead on imported wheat to feed the people of this arid land.
Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies. Because groundwater is a common resource—available to anyone with well—drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.
Dennis Dimick grew up on a hilly Oregon farm named Spring Hill, where groundwater from a spring provided his family's—and the farm's—water supply. He is National Geographic's Executive Editor for the Environment. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and flickr.

Further Reading:

Change the Course
The National Geographic Society supports a project to restore freshwater ecosystems. You can find out more about Change the Course here, and how by pledging to reduce your own water footprint you can restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River.


Posted: May 18, 2015 10:19   Go to blog
Your Calls and Emails Worked!!! HB 3405 was just referred to the Senate by Lt. Governor Patrick May 15, 2015 0:33
Thank you for your calls and emails today to Senator Perry and Lt. Governor Patrick!  Your effort has helped to move the bill.

The bill is being referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs - chaired by Senator Perry. House Bill 3405 is scheduled to be heard this MONDAY, May 18th. Keep your emails going to the entire committee.
Next Action- Ask the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs to pass the bill. 
Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee
Charles Perry (chair) - charles.perry@senate.state.tx...
Thank you for your calls and emails today to Senator Perry and Lt. Governor Patrick!  Your effort has helped to move the bill.

The bill is being referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs - chaired by Senator Perry. House Bill 3405 is scheduled to be heard this MONDAY, May 18th. Keep your emails going to the entire committee.

Next Action- Ask the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs to pass the bill. 

Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee


Judith Zaffirini (vice chair)- Judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us - (512) 463-0121

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


Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (member) - juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us - 512-463-0120

Lois Kolkhorst (member) - lois.kolkhorst@senate.state.tx.us512-463-0118

Jose Roriguez (member) - jose.rodriguez@senate.state.tx.us512-463-0129




Posted: May 15, 2015 0:33   Go to blog
Summer is for Science! May 14, 2015 13:43
Summer Camp at the Science Mill! Register NOW!Registration ends Friday, May 29th!   SCI* CAMP

Round trip bus transportation with pick-up and drop-off in Burnet and Marble Falls is included in the SCI Camp fee.

Do you know someone who likes to solve mysteries? Are they up to the challenge of crisis response? Are they a creative force? Ever just ...

Summer Camp at the Science Mill! Register NOW!

Registration ends Friday, May 29th!
 
SCI* CAMP

Round trip bus transportation with pick-up and drop-off in Burnet and Marble Falls is included in the SCI Camp fee.

Do you know someone who likes to solve mysteries? Are they up to the challenge of crisis response? Are they a creative force? Ever just wonder how and why our brains work? How awesome is rocket science? In just one week, they’ll see what it’s like to be a …
 
• Forensic Scientist
• Aerospace Engineer
• Storm Tracker
• Chief Innovation Officer
• Brain Scientist

*Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Career Immersion


SCI Camp is sponsored in part by a grant from the KDK-Harman Foundation.
SHOOT FOR THE STARS!

Round trip bus transportation with pick-up and drop-off in Fredericksburg and Stonewall provided by the National Park Service is included in the camp fee.

Who will build the fastest, sleekest, most aerodynamic rocket this summer? Kids can shoot for the stars with us!
• Play with paper airplanes, balloon racers, and stomp rockets
• Watch a movie: Space Junk 3D
• Design, build, test and launch their own rocket!
• Culminating team and individual competitions
 
Offered in collaboration with SystemsGo and the National Park Service.

       
 
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW AND LEARN MORE ABOUT SUMMER CAMPS AT THE SCIENCE MILL!


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Posted: May 14, 2015 13:43   Go to blog
EP Challenged by Legislation and LawMay 14, 2015 13:41

 Electro Purification Challenged by  Legislation and Law  So where are we now on EP? 
The battle to stop Electro Purification from taking our Trinity Aquifer water to sell for future developments elsewhere is going strong. If it seems the initial shouting has died down, it's because most of the shouters are now too busy working on winning to do any yelling.
When the EP threat came to light last December, folks were justifiably frightened, but they were also galvanized into action...

 Electro Purification Challenged by 
Legislation and Law 
So where are we now on EP? 

The battle to stop Electro Purification from taking our Trinity Aquifer water to sell for future developments elsewhere is going strong. If it seems the initial shouting has died down, it's because most of the shouters are now too busy working on winning to do any yelling.

When the EP threat came to light last December, folks were justifiably frightened, but they were also galvanized into action. If EP is allowed to pump five million gallons of groundwater per day from fields near FM 3237 at FM 150 (the Hays City Store area), it will be a disaster for all of Western Hays County. Hydro-geologists say local wells could be drained by 200' to 300', resulting in the severe water-level drops for hundreds of private and commercial wells, with a devastating effect on thousands of families. Imagine the damage to property values and business all over our area as word spread: "Western Hays County has no groundwater."  

Defensive actions were begun immediately by countless individuals, elected officials and organizations. These efforts continue. Dozens of local groups and organizations passed resolutions against EP's plans, including the Republican and Democratic parties of Hays County, PEC, the Hays County Commissioners, CARD, churches, the cities of Wimberley, Woodcreek and others. More than 6,000 local residents signed petitions that were presented to Representative Jason Isaac and Senators Donna Campbell and Judith Zaffirini, as well as Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Probably thousands of emails and letters have been sent to elected officials seeking help.

The current stage may seem quieter, but many people are working hard on the situation every day.   

LEGISLATION

Numerous bills have been filed by Isaac, Campbell, Zaffirini and Representative Eddie Rodriguez. Some met early deaths but others are still very much in play and working their way through the complexities of the Texas Legislature. The writing and shepherding of these bills have been aided by much input from involved citizens, from civic and government leaders, from lawyers for the newly formed Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) and lawyers for rancher Bill Johnson. The state of these bills could change at almost any time. Information about any bill's status is available at  www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/BillNumber.aspx   

HB 3405 and SB 1440 - These companion bills for the House (HB) and Senate (SB) authorize the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to expand its regulatory coverage into the unprotected area of Hays County to manage Trinity Aquifer groundwater pumping. This would allow BSEACD to regulate the amount of water pumped from EP's wells. At this writing, HB 3405 has passed the House and SB 1440 is very much alive. Despite some compromises on SB 1440 forced by dubious opposition, both bills have strong potential to keep EP from taking destructive quantities of our water.

HB 3407 and SB 1634 - These companion bills basically say that Goforth Special Utility District - the biggest contracted buyer of the proposed EP pumping (3 million gallons a day) - cannot exercise its power of eminent domain to condemn property outside of its service area for a project it doesn't own and operate; in other words, to facilitate a pipeline for EP. If passed, the bill would make it very difficult for EP to find a viable way to transport the massive quantities of water it hopes to pump from our aquifer.

At the moment, the prospects for the above bills appear promising, but EP is trying to undercut them.  

HB 4049 - Filed by Representative Isaac, this bill provides limited but desperately needed additional funding authorization for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) since Hays County financial support will end September 30, 2015. The bill was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee but has not been scheduled for House vote. There is not yet a Senate companion bill. Bills to provide additional funding authorization for BSEACD are currently in negotiation with Representative Isaac and Senator Campbell.

LITIGATION

Lawsuit filed by TESPA - The newly formed Texas Edwards Springs Protection Association was created to challenge EP in several ways. The first TESPA lawsuit alleges HTGCD already has authority over the Trinity Aquifer throughout Hays County, including where the EP test wells have been drilled, and that those wells were drilled illegally and should be stopped. Notice has been given to the HTGCD and the matter has been referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a recommendation no later than June 2015. The TESPA lawsuit also challenges the antiquated Texas Rule of Capture, which allows unregulated groundwater pumping, as out of date and violating propertys owners' rights. See TESPAtexas.org.  
   
Multi-faceted Strategy to Address Concerns about EP - Lawyers and lobbyists for Bill Johnson, owner of two ranches along the proposed pipeline to deliver water from EP wells to Buda and Goforth, have been working on multiple strategies to insure that the EP/Goforth/Buda water project is regulated and that impacts to the Hays County community are limited. Extensive work in the legislature by the Johnson team and others has recently resulted in HB 3405 being passed out of the House and SB 1440 being voted out of committee. Work continues to improve those bills and keep them moving toward final passage. In addition, the team continues preparation to respond to expected condemnation efforts when Goforth (for EP) initiates right-of-way acquisition (using eminent domain) for the pipeline. They have also worked with legislators on HB 3407 and SB 1634, which would limit Goforth's eminent domain powers.

REMOVING EP BUYERS

Water offer to Buda - Buda, one of three EP water buyers, contracted with EP for one million gallons per day of groundwater to be pumped 13 miles from the EP well field, to compensate for an expected water shortfall beginning in 2017. The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) has offered Buda one million gallons per day to negate Buda's need for the EP groundwater. Buda has failed to accept the GBRA offer and is also arguing against HB 3405 and SB 1440. Their reasons are not clear to observers, since the GBRA water would be cheaper and better quality. Buda's anticipated water shortfall is based on future planned growth; it is particularly galling for long-established Western Hays County residents to see an attempt to take away their water for projected future residents. Currently, citizen efforts are underway to alert Buda citizens to the contradictory activity of its city council, in hopes the attention will force the council to acknowledge the GBRA's better deal.  

Anthem Annexation - The third contracted buyer of EP's water is the Anthem subdivision proposed near Mountain City. Currently city and county officials are actively working on a plan to move Anthem from the Mountain City (extraterritorial jurisdiction) to the Kyle ETJ. Kyle could supply water services to the subdivision. This plan appears to be supported by Clark Wilson of Clark Wilson Homes, Anthem's owner. There are various obstacles, but they appear solvable. Currently the ball seems to be in the court of Mountain City's city council.  

Several other strategies and actions to stop or hinder EP are underway or being planned, if needed.

You already know EP has spent a lot of money to spread misinformation, both to legislators and the public, some of it aimed mainly at convincing people we can't win, some of it aimed at legislators and other officials.

Legislators acknowledge that citizen interest and comment through emails, calls and letters can have significant impact, especially in correcting intentional misinformation presented to legislators. You are urged to continue to contact your state legislators, and ask them to support the critical legislation noted above. In the case of the authors of these bills, Senators Donna Campbell and Judith Zaffirini, and Representatives Jason Isaac and Eddie Rodriguez, thanks for their hard work on these bills would be helpful.  

Stay current with the situation at: saveourwells.org, TESPAtexas.org and hayscard.org  

Contact legislators at:

Senator Donna Campbell - donna.campbell@senate.state.tx.us  
State Senator Judith Zaffirini - judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us  

Representative Jason Isaac - jason.isaac@house.state.tx.us  
Representative Eddie Rodriguez - eddie.rodriguez@house.state.tx.us

- CARD Steering Committee


Posted: May 14, 2015 13:41   Go to blog
Isaac Passes Critical Water Legislation for Hays County May 14, 2015 13:38
Jason Isaac
State Representative
House District 45

For
Immediate Release: May 8, 2015
Contact: Chelsey McGee - (512) 463-0647

Rep.
Isaac Passes Critical Water Legislation for Hays County

AUSTIN, TX - Today,
the Texas House passed critical legislation
authored by State Representative
Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) that
expands the boundaries of the Barton
Springs Edwards Aquifer
Conservation District to cover a portion of the Trinity
Aquifer in
Hays County that is not currently within a groundwater
district.

Rep...
Jason Isaac
State Representative
House District 45

For
Immediate Release: May 8, 2015
Contact: Chelsey McGee - (512) 463-0647

Rep.
Isaac Passes Critical Water Legislation for Hays County

AUSTIN, TX - Today,
the Texas House passed critical legislation
authored by State Representative
Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) that
expands the boundaries of the Barton
Springs Edwards Aquifer
Conservation District to cover a portion of the Trinity
Aquifer in
Hays County that is not currently within a groundwater
district.

Rep. Isaac stated, “This is great news for residents of Blanco
and
Hays County and ensures necessary measures will be taken to protect
an
environmentally sensitive area of the Trinity Aquifer. An
overwhelming
number of the constituents I serve are excited about the progress
of
legislation to protect our groundwater. HB 3405 is now headed to
the
Senate.”

In 2014, Rep. Isaac became aware of possible white zones in
Hays
County. A white zone is a portion of an aquifer that is currently
not
within the boundaries of a groundwater district. In Hays County, there
is
a white zone just outside a priority groundwater management area
that follows
the same boundaries of the Edwards Aquifer Authority
(EAA). However, the EAA
does not protect the Trinity Aquifer that lies
beneath the Edwards.

“Final
passage of HB 3405 will ensure that the entirety of Hays County
has protections
in place over the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. This
protection will be
possible without additional property taxes, and
residential and agriculture
wells will be exempts from fees.
Furthermore, this protection will ensure that
your private property
will not be taken out from under you.”

Now that HB
3405 has passed the House, it’s now headed to the Senate
where co-sponsor State
Senator Donna Campbell will bring the
legislation up for a debate before it is
fully passed. Upon passage,
HB 3405 will go into effect on September 1, 2015,
or immediately upon
receiving a vote of two-thirds from each house.

Rep.
Isaac concluded, “We have a few more steps to go before full
passage, but we
are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Posted: May 14, 2015 13:38   Go to blog
Update: Proposed ILA & ETJ MapsMay 14, 2015 13:37
As many of you know there have been informal discussions going on regarding the water source of the Anthem Development, Electro Purification.  A PROPOSED solution is to have the City of Kyle take the area into their City Limits to provide Anthem water and waste water from the City of Kyle.  This is one of the options discussed and has been formally proposed now by the City of Kyle.  The Hays County Commissioner's Court has accepted it as is and so has the Kyle City Council...
As many of you know there have been informal discussions going on regarding the water source of the Anthem Development, Electro Purification.  A PROPOSED solution is to have the City of Kyle take the area into their City Limits to provide Anthem water and waste water from the City of Kyle.  This is one of the options discussed and has been formally proposed now by the City of Kyle.  The Hays County Commissioner's Court has accepted it as is and so has the Kyle City Council.  The Kyle City Council also voted to give their City Manager, Scott Sellers negotiation and execution power.  I suspect if there are any changes made to it then the Commissioner's Court would have to agree on it again.

The DRAFT proposal is on the Mountain City Agenda for Monday night @ 7pm.  You will find the proposed agreement and respective ETJ maps including the current ETJ, proposed ETJ and the proposed ETJ southern area on the Mountain City website.  You can also find our agenda on the website as well.  I am proposing that the City grant me authority to distribute an electronic survey to residents to get a good feeling of where everyone stands and what is important.  As always, there will be a public comment portion to our agenda at the beginning of the meeting and we invite you to participate in that if you wish.  We will discuss the agreement briefly in open meeting and if any action is taken it will be in the open meeting.  However, there will be portions that will discuss in Executive session as it is a contract that is in negotiation and our attorney will be present.

Please review the ILA and forward any comments to mountaincitytx@gmail.com if you are unable to attend the meeting.  Documents may be found at mountaincitytx.com > documents > Anthem Development. 


 
 
Thank you,
Tiffany Curnutt
Mayor
Posted: May 14, 2015 13:37   Go to blog
Measure California’s WaterMay 14, 2015 13:36
The Opinion Pages | Editorial Measure California’s Water By THE EDITORIAL BOARDMAY 8, 2015

California’s water board voted Tuesday to impose new rules that would reduce the state’s urban water use by 25 percent, as mandated by Gov. Jerry Brown at the beginning of April. By requiring towns and cities to cut back, the state expects to save about 1.3 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. Rationing in urban areas will be tiered...

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Measure California’s Water

Posted: May 14, 2015 13:36   Go to blog
Restoration Rangers 5/1 workday updateMay 08, 2015 15:10
Nine RRs showed up for the Workday and First Day the Park was officially opened for the Summer.
Beverly, Irene, Susan, Blaine, Robert M, Leigh, Jennifer, Christine and Tom were the brave Group….


Task One  - Invasive’s: Bastard Cabbage, Johnson Grass and Horehound along the new path. The whole Group.
Task Two - New Path from parking lot to trail. Beverly, Susan, Leigh and Tom.
Task Three - Walk the complete trail, weeding, picking up trash, etc.  The whole Group...
Nine RRs showed up for the Workday and First Day the Park was officially opened for the Summer.
Beverly, Irene, Susan, Blaine, Robert M, Leigh, Jennifer, Christine and Tom were the brave Group….


Task One  - Invasive’s: Bastard Cabbage, Johnson Grass and Horehound along the new path. The whole Group.

Task Two - New Path from parking lot to trail. Beverly, Susan, Leigh and Tom.

Task Three - Walk the complete trail, weeding, picking up trash, etc.  The whole Group.

Task Four - Weed around the nature center.  Jennifer, Christine, Bob, Irene.

Here are a few photos: 






Posted: May 08, 2015 15:10   Go to blog
TESPA Discussion of SB 1440May 08, 2015 12:17


            The TESPA legal team has reviewed SB 1440, and we feel the need to bring a problem with this bill to the attention of our members and friends.  There is a provision that will raise issues in the future if the bill is passed in its current form.  We do not send this out lightly.  Many people have worked very hard on this bill and we appreciate that effort.  However, when we formed TESPA, we promised to tell you the truth as we see it.  And here it is...


 
          The TESPA legal team has reviewed SB 1440, and we feel the need to bring a problem with this bill to the attention of our members and friends.  There is a provision that will raise issues in the future if the bill is passed in its current form.  We do not send this out lightly.  Many people have worked very hard on this bill and we appreciate that effort.  However, when we formed TESPA, we promised to tell you the truth as we see it.  And here it is.
SB 1440 places the area where the EP wells are proposed into the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. We support this.  However, SB 1440 has one section that gives us great concern.  It is section 8 that allows for temporary permits.  Our basic concern is that this section can be read to create a type of “grandfather” provision for the EP wells.
Under section 8(b), a temporary permit can be obtained by anyone who either has an operating well or a contract before the effective date of the statute.  EP currently has contracts for the sale of water so this section arguably would apply to them.  Section 8(c) then states that the district must issue the temporary permit without a hearing, meaning that EP would be granted a temporary permit. 
However, the most troubling provision to TESPA is section 8(d) which states the following with respect to temporary permits.  (We have marked Section 8(d) in blue, yellow and green to make it easier to follow the discussion below.) 

          (d)  The temporary permit issued under Subsection (c) of this
section does not confer any rights or privileges to the permit
holder other than those set forth in this section. After issuing
the temporary permit, the district shall process the permit
application for notice, hearing, and consideration for issuance of
a regular permit in the same manner that the district processes
other permit applications not described by this section. The
district, after notice and hearing, may issue an order reducing the
amount of groundwater that may be produced under a temporary permit
under this section only if the district determines that the amount
of groundwater being produced under the temporary permit is causing
a failure to achieve applicable adopted desired future conditions
for the aquifer.The district bears the burden of proof in
demonstrating that the amount of groundwater being produced under a
temporary permit is causing a failure to achieve applicable adopted
desired future conditions for the aquifer. A person who relies on
the temporary permit granted by this section to drill, operate, or
engage in other activities associated with a water well assumes the
risk that the district may grant or deny, wholly or partly, the
permit application when the district takes final action after
notice and hearing to issue a regular permit pursuant to the
application.

The above section marked in blue refers to the “regular” permit process in the context of “after issuing the temporary permit”.  This is confusing.  There is no reason to mention regular permits in this section other than to create an argument on behalf of EP that the temporary permit bears a direct relationship to the regular permit. 
 The follow-on section in yellow then refers to the District issuing notice and hearing – but for what permit?  This section can be read as referring to the regular permit after issuance of the temporary permit and not the temporary permit. This is a problem.  It is possible to read this yellow section as limiting the discretion of the District to deny the “regular” permit to only one ground and that is “only if the district determines that the amount of groundwater being produced under the temporary permit is causing a failure to achieve applicable adopted desired future conditions”.  Under this interpretation, no other rules of the district can be considered – only the impact on achievement of desired future conditions.
Under the normally applicable law, a permitting decision would be subject to several considerations pursuant to Water Code 36.113(d), including whether:

(1)  the application conforms to the requirements prescribed by this chapter and is accompanied by the prescribed fees;
(2)  the proposed use of water unreasonably affects existing groundwater and surface water resources or existing permit holders;
(3)  the proposed use of water is dedicated to any beneficial use;
(4)  the proposed use of water is consistent with the district's approved management plan;
(5)  if the well will be located in the Hill Country Priority G   roundwater Management Area, the proposed use of water from the well is wholly or partly to provide water to a pond, lake, or reservoir to enhance the appearance of the landscape;
(6)  the applicant has agreed to avoid waste and achieve water conservation; and
(7)  the applicant has agreed that reasonable diligence will be used to protect groundwater quality and that the applicant will follow well plugging guidelines at the time of well closure.
 
 As we read the provisions of Section 8(d), the considerations listed above could not be considered, including the effect on adjacent wells such as many of yours.  The only consideration allowed would be for interference with desired future conditions.
The section marked in green worsens the situation by transferring the burden of proof from the applicant to the district to prove that a temporary permit is violating the desired future conditions. This switching of burden of proof furthers supports the concern that this section gives special rights to EP. 
It is clear to us the EP is being given special treatment and special consideration in this bill.  These types of compromises happen in the legislature all the time.  However, TESPA wants its members and friends to know that this has happened to a bill that affects you and your wells.  If this bill is not amended to remove this language, you may well have to live with EP being allowed to exist under statute. 
As you all know, TESPA has sued to have EP wells brought under the jurisdiction of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.  We believe that they have jurisdiction under the Act that created the Hays Trinity District.  Our lawsuit is currently on file with the Hays County District Court, and we are just starting to work through our administrative law case.  It is always difficult to know if you are going to win a lawsuit, but we think we have a good case and a good chance. 
At some point, a statute such as SB 1440 that gives too much away may need to be dropped.  We have a viable lawsuit.  We have a viable strategy.  You might pass on to your state representative, state senator and other elected officials that the provisions of Section 8(d) marked in color above need to be removed from this bill or it should not be passed. 
Posted: May 08, 2015 12:17   Go to blog

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