April 30, 2009

PEC Election Underway

Pedernales Electric Cooperative is conducting its second-ever open and competitive election for members of the Board of Directors. Be sure your voice is heard. Election details here.

April 29, 2009

Hearing set for Llano River sand and gravel application

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is being asked to permit the mining of sand and gravel along a nearly one-mile stretch of streambed in the Llano River. Kingsland businessmen Joe Long and Mark Stephenson have petitioned TPWD to annually remove or disturb 240,000 cubic yards from an island in the middle of the river, approximately three miles above the Kingsland Slab. Under state law, the TPWD manages, controls, and protects sand and gravel extraction in navigable rivers of the State. In deciding whether to grant or deny the permit, the agency must consider the project’s impact on fish and wildlife habitat, navigation, and in some cases, recreational activity. Read full article here.

April 25, 2009

Joint Land Use Study full of warnings

The 224-page draft of the Camp Bullis Joint Land Use Study sounds clear warnings. And it echoes a similar 1995 study that was shelved and forgotten. The Army wants lighting strictly controlled so it can train pilots and soldiers in low light technologies. But it also details the growing role of aviation in Bullis’ missions, which involve not only small helicopters but also some of the largest fixed-wing military aircraft. So, it wants no stadiums, schools and other gathering facilities nearby, and it wants residential development limited to very, very low densities. This time, we had better pay attention because the stakes are much greater now than in 1995. To save Fort Sam Houston’s strategic missions — and benefit from their expansions — we are going to have to seriously curb development nearby. If we don’t, we could lose a multibillion-dollar payroll, and 22,000 acres of Hill Country could end up being denuded, endangering both the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. But most importantly, the men and women of all military branches could lose the benefits of having the best combat medical care in the world for years to come. Read the full SA Express-News article here.

April 24, 2009

2009 Texas Land Use Study

Austin, Texas — A new study conducted for American Farmland Trust (AFT) by the Institute for Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) at Texas A&M University reveals that Texas lost 2.1 million acres of farms, ranches and forest land between 1997 and 2007. Texas is home to over 142 million acres of private farms, ranches and forest lands, thus leading the nation in land area devoted to privately-owned working lands. Accounting for 84 percent of the state, these rural lands provide economic, environmental, and recreational benefits, including a $73 billion agriculture industry, the second largest in the country. Read full press release here.

Bills are vital to protect aquifer

SA Express News Commenary by Camille White: We members of the San Geronimo Valley Alliance are puzzled about why the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Water System are not yet supporting House Bill 595 and Senate Bill 822. Bexar County recently and unobtrusively passed a resolution of support. HB 595, authored by Rep. David Leibowitz, and its Senate companion, SB 822, introduced by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, would prohibit discharge of treated sewage effluent into the contributing and recharge zones of the San Antonio and Barton Springs segments of the Edwards Aquifer. Both lawmakers represent San Antonio in the Texas Legislature. Why should the two San? Antonio-based governmental entities support these bills? Because developers want to build in these areas and, as a result, the drinking water of the 1.7 million folks who count on the Edwards will be compromised. Read full commentary here.

April 22, 2009

Texas drought information site launched

A new multi-agency, comprehensive Texas drought information website has been launched at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought. The purpose of the site is to provide a central clearing house of drought-related public information and education to help each of the participating agencies perform their designated public service roles. It will also provide timely and consistent drought-related news including historic and forecasted National Weather Service rainfall information, water updates from state water authorities and agricultural drought damage assessment updates as provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency, state agricultural economists and other recognized experts. Read full Community Impact News article here.

Council Okays Sale Of Water — For Now

Following a lengthy discussion at Monday night’s meeting, the Fredericksburg City Council agreed to supply local golf resort Boot Ranch with ground water for its golf course from a nearby well until an effluent line can be completed from the city’s waste water treatment plant. The motion to supply water to the golfing community located near RM 965, passed by a 4-1 margin, with councilman Tom Musselman casting the only dissenting vote. The new plan, which comes at the request of Boot Ranch, calls for the city to sell a maximum 40.5 million gallons of water until an Aug. 1 cut-off date. By then, it’s believed that the golf facility will have completed the effluent pipe project and have the pump stations on-line. Read full Fredericksburg Standard articlehere.

April 21, 2009

Federal Grant Will Help Complete Plan for Aquifer

On April 21st the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the award of a cost-sharing Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grant for $1,063,125 to the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP). The stakeholders in the EARIP are currently working with the Texas Legislature to obtain the rest of the funding. In 2007, the Texas Legislature mandated the creation of the EARIP and directed the stakeholders to come to consensus regarding a plan for protecting federally listed endangered or threatened species while managing the use of the Edwards Aquifer. This plan must be completed by September 1, 2012. Read full press release here.

April 14, 2009

Texas Groundwater Management: Change urgently needed

Surface water in Texas belongs to the state. It can only be used with the state’s permission. The management of groundwater is another rather complicated, even strange story, considering how critical and urgent groundwater conservation is for Texas. Action by this legislative session to move toward more effective groundwater management is ongoing. Read more

April 10, 2009

LCRA backs off San Antonio water-sharing deal

The Lower Colorado River Authority appears to have pulled the plug on a potential multibillion-dollar project that would have shipped water from Austin’s river basin to San Antonio. In a letter to a regional water planning group Wednesday, river authority project manager Leah Manning wrote that because of mounting water demands along the Colorado, “no water can be made available to (San Antonio) from the project as it was originally envisioned.” Read the full Austin American Statesman article here.

April 9, 2009

Statement of Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club on “Texas Transportation Funding”

“What is being described today as a crisis in Texas transportation funding actually presents a great opportunity for Texas leaders and citizens to revamp our transportation system to provide a comprehensive approach to improving the mobility of Texans in an environmentally sound and energy efficient way. Now is the time to commit to a dramatic expansion of mass transit in and between Texas cities, enhanced bicycle and pedestrian mobility, and promotion of clustered development to make it easier to address our transportation, energy, and air quality challenges. Roads will continue to be part of our transportation system, but we also need more commuter rail, light rail, freight rail, and other modes to have a true transportation system that will meet the needs of Texas in the 21st century.”

April 5, 2009

County Governments Need More Power to Manage Growth

Special commentary written by Bandera County Judge Richard Evens, Hays County Judge Liz Sumter, and Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom, “Eighteen months ago, more than 40 Texas Hill Country elected officials came together to discuss our common challenges, and despite our differences — yes, there are differences from county to county — chose to work together to fix them.” – Read Austin American Statesman Commentary here