August 28, 2009

Conservancy shifts into high gear

Scott Storm decided the best way to keep his family’s ranch together was through a conservation agreement that would protect more than 5,000 acres covered in live oak, Spanish oak and native prairie grasses. So he started working with the Hill Country Conservancy to do so. Read full Austin Business Journal article here.

August 26, 2009

Drought Decisions Program Scheduled

Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service and the NRCS office have planned an educational program to be held on September 3 at the Pedernales Electric Coop Auditorium in Johnson City beginning at 6:00pm and concluding by 8:00pm. The program will address options available to cattlemen as they try and make sound management decisions as to what is best for them and the herd, as well as the rangeland. Read full Blanco County News article here.

August 25, 2009

Hays opens door to new subdivision regulations

The Hays County Commissioners Court finalized and approved new development standards members say are designed to protect residents’ health and welfare as well as to conserve water resources. Read full San Marcos Record article here.

August 24, 2009

As groundwater levels drop, people begin hauling in water

The drought has gotten so bad in the Hill Country that when the twin grandchildren of Bob Sharpe visit his place near Nutty Brown Road, they have to take an outdoor “cowboy shower” by having grandmother Sue Sharpe dump water on them from a bucket. For three months, his well has been dry, so several times a day, Bob Sharpe steers his blue Chevy pickup to the nearby Cedar Valley Grocery, which gets its water from a Colorado River pipeline, to fill his 200-gallon plastic tank, plus a dozen emptied Newman’s Own grape juice jugs strewn across the truck bed. Read full commentaryhere.

August 23, 2009

Our Water Supply, Down the Drain

In the United States, we constantly fret about running out of oil. But we should be paying more attention to another limited natural resource: water. A water crisis is threatening many parts of the country — not just the arid West. Read full article here.

August 20, 2009

Unlikely Allies Support Bill to Exempt Working Farms & Ranches from Estate Tax

A livestock ranchers group, the Public Lands Council (PLC), and national environmental group, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), have sent a joint letter to Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and John Salazar (D-CO), applauding them for their leadership in introducing legislation to provide relief from the estate tax. Read full media release here.

August 18, 2009

Drop in time

A one-inch rain falling on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields 600 gallons of water — a bounty during times of drought, according to Hill Country Master Naturalist Jim Stanley. But storing rainwater is just one of the benefits of a rainwater harvesting system, said Stanley, who has served as a Riverside Nature Center volunteer for the past eight years. Read full Kerrville Daily Times article here.

Sustainable Economics for the Texas Triangle Conference

A new dialogue about the future. How will we develop strategies for sustainable solutions that reduce sprawl, develop a new transportation network, ensure the region’s economic competitiveness, and preserve natural resources and scenic landscapes? Houston, September 24-25. Learn more here.

August 17, 2009

The Reality of drought

The ongoing drought has kept water not only in the local headlines, but regionally throughout the Hill Country from San Antonio to Austin. As the drought persists, water availability, which by definition of State water planners is “the maximum amount of water available during the drought of record, regardless of whether the supply is physically or legally available”, is being reduced. Read full article here.

Cities petition to release treated wastewater in Highland Lakes Watershed

Cities up and down the Colorado River, including Marble Falls, are being asked to join in a petition to change rules that have stood for a decade against releasing discharge from wastewater treatment plants into the watershed. Read full Highlander article here.

August 15, 2009

Drought will force some tough choices

After the 1930s and the construction of the massive Highland Lakes, our water supply seemed more or less infinite. Today, with our regional population topping 1.6 million, it is becoming very clear that the reservoirs do indeed have a bottom. Read full commentary here.

August 13, 2009

Conservation Stewardship Program Sign Up Announced

August 10 through September 30 Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has announced the first farmer sign up period for the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The CSP will make payments to farmers for maintaining existing conservation practices and for adopting additional practices on cropland, grassland, improved pasture, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland and tribal lands. Payment will also be made for adopting resource conserving crop rotations – Details

August 12, 2009

Then & Now: San Antonio River dangers

The San Antonio River drew settlers here in the 1700s, and now, with the River Walk, fuels a tourism industry that pumps an estimated $7.2 billion annually into the local economy. But the river also has long had hidden dangers for those who have taken a dip in its murky water. Aside from drownings, parasites and bacteria pose a threat to humans, sometimes with deadly results. Read full article here.

Sand and gravel decision delayed

A decision on an application to remove sand and gravel from the Llano River may not come before next summer. Under state law, TPWD manages, controls, and protects sand and gravel extraction in navigable rivers of the state and requires a permit for its removal or disturbance. In May, Brad Rockwell, the attorney representing six neighboring landowners opposed to the permit, filed a contested case hearing request with TPWD. That agency granted the request for the contested case hearing in June. Read full Llano News article here.

August 11, 2009

Edwards Aquifer Authority contemplates new regulations to strengthen water quality protection

The board of directors of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, at its meeting Tuesday, August 11, agreed to explore a new regulatory program that would further protect the Edwards Aquifer from pollution risks associated with development on the environmentally sensitive recharge zone. Read full media release here.

August 10, 2009

ECT hosts 81st Legislative Roundup Luncheon August 31st

The Envision Central Texas Land Use Committee is hosting a forum on Monday, August 31st from 11:30 to 1:15 at the Hyatt Regency Austin. This important event will provide a unique opportunity to hear from members of our Central Texas Legislative Delegation regarding issues critical to our region’s future, specifically related to transportation and land use policy. Seating is limited, if you are interested in attending, register today. Learn more here.

The latest news and updates about Hill Country transmission lines (CREZ)

SOS Hill Country Environment, a group out of Gillespie County provides regular updates about wind farms and transmission lines in the scenic Hill Country landscape. Find out the latest about the LCRA plans, PUC comments and upcoming hearings here. For additional information from Kimble County

Northern Hill Country residents organized along the Lampasas River

Much like the ClearView Alliance and SOS Hill Country Environment, the Save the Lampasas River Group has formed to promote wise and careful planning of proposed transmission lines through the Texas Hill Country. Learn more on their new website, The group’s first fundraiser has been announced for August 22nd.

August 8, 2009

Austin water treatment plant debate

City Council keeps treatment facility on pace for spring construction as some members begin to question need, cost. Read the full Statesman article here. A special meeting has been called for September 17th to debate this issue before a definitive vote in October. Previous news on this issue here.

August 6, 2009

It’s Not Just About the Drought

Many more people have moved to the Hill Country since the last drought and have substantially increased demand on the water supply. “In some places, we have already exceeded a safe yield – water that is available during a drought,” Read the full article here.

Water News from TWDB

Check out the Summer Texas Water Development Board newsletter for articles about groundwater management planning, rainwater harvesting, water resource events and more. Click here

August 5, 2009

USFWS may slow transmission line project

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) expressed apprehension last Wednesday that the “fast track” process for siting transmission lines across the Hill Country is not giving that federal agency adequate time to determine potential impacts to endangered species. Read full Llano News article here.

Lake Travis water treatment facility raises concerns

Lake Travis residents and business owners are supported by the Austin environmental community calling on the City of Austin to hold off plans to draw even more water from Lake Travis until conservation measures are fully implemented. Show up and speak up Thursday (tomorrow). Learn more here.
Lake Travis hits 3rd all time lowest level.

August 4, 2009

Cypress Creek Project

The spring-fed Cypress Creek and surrounding Hill Country landscape is a unique and cherished natural system located in and around Wimberley, Texas. Learn about what’s being done to protect this resource, check out the latest Cypress Creek Project newsletter here.

Rainfall patterns at the Fly Gap

After a wet first half of 2007, why did dry conditions return in late 2007 through early 2009? What are our rainfall prospects for the coming year? What are the long-term trends for rainfall in central Texas? How will global warming affect our rainfall patterns? Read full article by David M. Hillis here.

August 3, 2009

Environment Texas Releases 2009 Legislative Scorecard

Fifteen representatives and nineteen senators voted to protect the environment 100% of the time in the 81st Legislature, according to Environment Texas’ biennial legislative scorecard. The scorecard tracks votes on a range of votes affecting the state’s air, water, natural areas, and quality of life. Read full media release here.