Dear WVWA Supporters,
Nothing could have prepared us for 2020. And yet, here we are, with grief for lost loved ones and mentors, yet steeled to rise out of this pandemic with renewed resolve.
Jacob’s Well is a timeless source of inspiration and a symbol of gratitude for the gift of water. Deep inside its chasm seem to lie answers to protecting our watersheds and aquifers across the Texas Hill Country.
Threats are plenty, and persistent. I’ve seen the Well run dry—this ancient spring and primal life source of Cypress Creek and the Blanco River. I’ve seen drought and flood take lives, sweep away homes, and erase an ancient cypress forest. I’ve seen economic development and industry trample large swaths of our delicate karst hills and pristine waters.
Despite the pain, our community will heal. Through the suffering, the purpose of human spirit and the power of nature to restore itself compels us as friends and neighbors to come together. To you, we dedicate the accomplishments of WVWA and recommit to bring people and organizations together to be better stewards of our land and water.
Over these many years, our WVWA-affiliated community has conserved thousands of acres of private land and created public parks and preserves at Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well, and all across our region. Our growing popularity, unchecked, brings lasting detriment to our water, wildlife, and landscape. We are all interconnected. WVWA’s greatest impact comes from collaborating with diverse allies in the shared mission to protect and preserve our watersheds.
Groundwater Management Zone. Days before the Covid-19 pandemic redefined our lives, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District voted to form the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone through “Rule 15,” designed to manage water supply and protect spring flow in the unique upper Cypress Creek Watershed. Formed alongside the Regional Recharge Study Zone, which centers on the Blanco River and Pleasant Valley Springs, the GMZ enjoys special pumping curtailment rules and springflow protection. WVWA was a driving force for many years to convene the dozens of public and private stakeholders who met across a year to create the Zones.
One Water. Blue Hole Primary has opened as the first One Water School in Texas and is the winner in the Texas Water Development Board’s annual Rain Catcher Awards! WVWA continues tight coordination with Wimberley Independent School District (WISD) and Meadows Center for Water and the Environment (MCWE) to implement its integrated planning and management of water. The One Water concept for long-term resilience and reliability means collecting rainwater and air conditioning condensate to flush toilets, recycling treated wastewater on site to water playfields and landscapes, and treating stormwater runoff with green infrastructure to reduce non-point source pollution. Groundwater consumption is 90% less than typical school use. WISD should save nearly $1 million in water and wastewater rates over the next 25 years! Next up is a One Water Library, Wimberley’s expansion currently in design. We are exploring nothing less than decentralized infrastructure as a new standard across the Texas Hill Country.
Parks & Open Space. Coleman’s Canyon Preserve was a signature accomplishment of 2020, ranked by Hays County’s Parks and Open Space Commission as the top project for Prop A bond funding. And what a victory for county voters to approve $75 million in bond funding by a 2-to-1 margin. Now, Jacob’s Well Natural Area will more than double and protect crucial source waters and karst features like the Wimberley Bat Cave. Our Regional Conservation Fund proposal supports Hays County’s impressive advance in conserving land and water and creating public access to the Blanco River at the beautiful Sentinel Peak Preserve, over a mile of the river, for generations to come to enjoy.
Blanco Water. The City of Blanco created the Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force in September working cooperatively with Protect Our Blanco, facilitated and supported by WVWA and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and partners including Hays County. The task force is investigating alternatives to direct discharge that will allow the city to grow while protecting water quality, water supplies, and habitat.
Market Makers. In May, Texas Water Trade selected WVWA and Jacob’s Well for its technical assistance grant program to implement market-based reduction of groundwater pumping to protect spring flow, especially during drought. Work with TWT partners is proceeding apace to solve the multidimensional puzzle of ensuring sustainable flow in our bustling and rapidly growing watershed.
Jacob’s Well Community Garden is situated on 5 acres of WVWA land adjacent to Jacob’s Well Natural Area. There are 27 individual gardeners and 3 gardens grown to support the Crisis Bread Basket. We are proud to support the volunteer run garden and hope to expand and grow the garden to extend the reach and teaching opportunities associated with sustainable agriculture, expanding rainwater harvesting, incorporating permaculture design, and bringing the local community together to grow healthy organic produce. WVWA is reviewing a new masterplan to address water management and catalyzing regeneration of the watershed through the Jacob’s Well Community Garden Expansion Project. We hope to inspire and inform local residents to restore their land and increase Jacob’s Well’s viability, vitality, and capacity for evolution. Watch for launch in 2021.
Network Partners. Over the last five years, WVWA has conceived and launched the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network (THCCN) with key partner organizations to build collaborative power. THCCN has identified more than 150 land and water conservation organizations across central Texas. WVWA research created the collective impact mode for scaling conservation across the region; now THCCN is governed by a steering committee of twelve member organizations, coordinated by the Hill Country Alliance. Rapid growth pressures across the region require its innovative and aligned response. THCCN advances land conservation, watershed protection, groundwater science and public policy, and One Water infrastructure design.
TESPA. Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association has settled its joint lawsuit with WVWA against Kinder Morgan. Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan moved its pipeline route to avoid any Blanco River crossing–sparing Tonkawa Homeowners Association members and their park–and agreed to use only dry boring, limiting damage to porous limestone geology. TESPA and WVWA will continue to support monitoring and groundwater modeling for the protection of karst topography. Prior to the TESPA lawsuit, WVWA got agreement that only dry gas products—no liquid hydrocarbons, as originally considered—will be carried in the 42-inch line. TESPA and WVWA now turn to EP’s direct threat to groundwater in its request to draw 2.5 million gallons per day from the Trinity Aquifer. We will work resolutely to safeguard homeowners’ wells, Jacob’s Well, and Cypress Creek at the heart of the Wimberley Valley.
Thirty years ago, Jacob’s Well fueled my life mission and led me to concerned landowners, water protectors, land conservationists, and individuals in common mission to protect our fragile watershed. Our water deserves a voice and a community to protect and conserve it like our lives depend on it! We see further development of our core programs and exciting new initiatives to launch at scale with your continued support. WVWA thrives on the generous expertise and dedicated efforts of our board and countless partners, network and volunteers. What a team!
Challenge by challenge, project by project, WVWA continues to be a regional leader in land and water conservation, scientific research, environmental planning, and policy advocacy. We reach deep and wide in Texas as one nonprofit investing in decades of quality-assured water quality monitoring for the Texas Clean Rivers Program and advocacy for regional and statewide conservation policy. We are burdened as a small organization to find balance between being responsive to threats to our natural resources and maintaining our vision and capacity to conserve land and demonstrate the promise of One Water and green infrastructure to meet demands imposed by growth.
Together, we can share a vision for human and ecological health, economic sustainability, and enriched community, and renewal of the human spirit. Thank you for standing with us and leading a movement to sustain our land and water. Let’s take a moment to celebrate. And as we recognize the astounding legacy that will forever be 2020, let us look forward and dive into 2021 with courage and a clear vision!
For the Love of Water,
Wimberley Valley Watershed Association