February 26, 2013

Leurig: Conservation is conservative approach to solving Texas water problems

Testimony to the drought of 2011 is still all around us — dried-up reservoirs in West Texas, purposeless docks on the parched Pedernales River. On the heels of the drought, the idea of seeding a fund to meet the next 50 years of Texas’ water supply needs is a hard idea to pass up. But before we pluck that money from the state’s rainy day fund, let’s take a second look at what the state’s water needs really are, and how we ensure that state funds aren’t squandered in speculative water development. Read more from Statesman.com

Texas Springs Symposium March 8th

The 6th Annual Texas Water Symposium series continues this month at Junction with a personal conversation between Hill Country landowners and water experts about springs – the connection between groundwater and surface water. Details

Bill filed to recognize ecologically significant Hill Country rivers

A bill has been filed in the Texas Legislature to help preserve the unique ecological condition of the headwaters of the Nueces, Frio and Sabinal rivers in Uvalde County and the Comal and San Marcos rivers in Comal and Hays counties. Learn More

Asleep at the Wheel to perform at event benefiting Texas Dance Hall Preservation

TDHP was founded in 2007 to help save the dance halls of Texas. Join TDHP for a benefit, March 30 at the historic Anhalt Hall, with a performance by nine-time Grammy award winning western swing band, Asleep at the Wheel, and a silent auction featuring rare music memorabilia. Details

Judge hears arguments in Jacob’s Well groundwater dispute

The clear water that flows out of Jacob’s Well has brought people to the Wimberley Valley for thousands of years, but in recent years the spring has stopped flowing, something which didn’t happen even in the drought of record during the 1950s. “The reason it’s gone dry is because of the heavy pumping from wells that are in the area,” attorney Malcolm Harris said. More from YNN.

February 25, 2013

Burnet County officials to hold meeting on water issues, February 27

Water levels at lakes Travis and Buchanan remain low, and with slim chances for respite from the drought anytime soon, Burnet County officials have called a meeting Wednesday to brief residents and businesses on water issues. More from Statesman.com

A look at Green Infrastructure

Much of the focus about funding the State Water Plan is centered around significant public investments for traditional infrastructure such as treatment plants, pipes and damns; an expensive and sort-term strategy. Green Infrastructure provides much more cost-effective, long-term healthy natural systems for providing plentiful, clean water supply. Learn about Green Infrastructure from American Rivers here. Another great read about Green Infrastructure from the EPA here.

Spring Ag Irrigation Could Move City Toward Stage III Water Restrictions

As Texas enters a third year of drought, San Antonio Water System is bracing for the possibility that Stage III water restrictions may be activated for the first time in the city’s history as early as March. More from Rivard Report

February 21, 2013

Water experts from around the country gather in Austin to discuss improving water conservation

Our continued drought conditions here in Central Texas are a reminder of how important successful water conservation can be to a community. The drought also serves as a backdrop for this year’s 3rd Annual Water Conservation Symposium that focuses on Success Through Innovation: Strategies To Effectively Save Water, February 26th. Details

New study shows positive economic impact through a Texas beverage container deposit recycling program

Implementing a refundable deposit on beverage containers in Texas would provide a significant, positive impact to the state through increased economic activity, job creation, and reduced litter, according to a study released today by the Texas League of Conservation Voters. Learn More

Dome on the Range

Kenrick and Laurie Kattner have shared a love of stargazing and a dream of building their own observatory. They spent months driving around at night looking a spot away from the nighttime glow of Hill Country cities and towns. In 2007 they found the perfect piece of property in Llano County. “The Big Bend area near McDonald Observatory is one of the darkest areas in the nation, and it’s not that different out at our place,” Ken says of their Hill Country land. Read their story from Landscapes Magazine.

We need to design water sustainability into the very fabric of development

“So clearly there is ample reason to question if a State Water Plan that is predicated on extending and perpetuating the prevailing 19th century infrastructure model would cost more than it needs to, if we were to instead pursue a smarter infrastructure model, a model that recognizes and responds to the water realities here in the 21st century. An infrastructure model that yields deep conservation.” More from waterblogue.com.

Native landscapes, saving natural resources, edible gardens to be March workshop topics at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm

Using energy-efficient technology at home, designing native landscapes and creating edible gardens will be workshop topics at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm during March. Details

February 20, 2013

Hill Country Land Trust Earns National Recognition

The Hill Country Land Trust has achieved land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The Hill Country Land Trust’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation that benefits the entire community,” says John Huecksteadt, Hill Country Land Trust President. Learn More

Texas Mayors Stress Need For More Water Conservation and Less Red Tape

“While there was no shortage of state and city officials touting the necessity of funding the state water plan, many acknowledged the hurdles ahead, including the complex application and permitting process for new projects, which can last years, and the need to conserve and be more efficient with the water we already have.” More from State Impact Texas.

February 19, 2013

Statesman Article examines who benefits from the “Fund the Water Plan” campaign

H2O4Texas PAC included “oil and gas companies, realtors, home builders, water suppliers and engineers — industries that stand to benefit from massive projects to move water around the state.” But as Andy Sansom explains, “It’s hard to grasp that the easiest, cheapest water to get is the water we already have. Should I spend $100 million to build a new reservoir, or spend money fixing the leaking water mains all over town?” Read the full articlehere.

February 18, 2013

Scenic City Certification Program accepting applications, through March 31

Scenic Texas has identified a direct correlation between the success of a city’s economic development efforts and the visual appearance of its public spaces. In recognition of this link, Scenic Texas has developed the Scenic City Certification Program to support and recognize municipalities that implement high-quality scenic standards for public roadways and public spaces. To learn more and download the application visit www.sceniccitycertification.org. For a detailed review of the program be sure to attend the hour-long webinar, March 6 at 10:30am.

February 15, 2013

Enjoy beautiful images of the Hill Country Night Landscape

HCA Photo Contest winner Chase A. Fountain is featured in a wonderful TPWD photo story about the Texas night landscape and starry sky above. Learn more about Hill Country efforts to protect the night sky. Keep tabs on the HCA Website and Newsletter, the 2014 Photo Contest is about to begin!

Drought Plans on Edwards Aquifer is OK’d

A plan to manage the competing uses of the Edwards Aquifer in a drought was approved Thursday and couldn’t be more timely, as the region faces what may be one for the record books. More from SA Express-News

Andy Sansom: “Action on Texas Water needed Now”

“Because the landscape of Texas is more than 95 percent owned by private citizens, virtually all our watersheds, all our recharge zones and all the countryside where the raindrops fall are on private property. The implications for our water supply are that in Texas we lose rural and agricultural land faster than any other state. We must find a way to keep our landowner stewards on the land and doing the right thing to ensure continued water for the rest of us.” Read the full opinion piece published in the Austin American Statesman here.

February 14, 2013

Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretation class that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Workshop held the first two weekends in April. Register now, only a few spots remain. Details

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Approves EARIP Habitat Conservation Plan

“Approval of the EARIP’s HCP marks a significant conservation achievement for the Edwards Aquifer Region,” stated Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle. “The organizations and individuals involved in the development of the HCP clearly demonstrated that it is possible to come together and develop a consensus based solution to a very complex water issue in Texas.” Read More

Bee Cave seeks control over development

“The Bee Cave City Council, concerned about a lack of control over new development near the city, hopes to hold an election in May that would give the council authority to annex nearby land and better regulate what is built there.” Pay attention though a little further down the road, development could be pushed where the County currently has no land-use authority and needs it. Read more from Austin American Statesman.

Texas Lawmaker Seeks Overhaul of Water Board

In addition to the intensifying discussions of water infrastructure funding at the Capitol, an even more basic conversation is also getting under way: whether to restructure the Texas Water Development Board. More from Texas Tribune

February 13, 2013

We Love Hill Country State Parks and Natural Areas

State Park funding is once again a challenge this legislative session. To be part of a growing voice to “Keep Texas Parks Open” visit and like this Facebook movement.Check out the most recent issue of TPWD’s wonderful “Life’s Better Outside” newsletter that includes great information about conservation, water, kids outdoors and wildlife.

Come on Texas Hill Country – Let’s take the 40 Gallon Challenge together

Help turn the Hill Country region on this map to dark blue as we take the 40 Gallon Pledge together. We can do more to conserve water inside and outside our homes and businesses. Start by taking the pledge yourself. Then spread the word! Remember to forward to teachers too, this is a great educational tool for our kids. Take the Pledge

Deep Conservation, the Surest Path to Sustainable Water

A new water dialog has been launched www.waterblogue.com. “The stock in trade of water conservation programs practiced by cities and other water supply entities only tinkers around the margins of the basic water management infrastructure system; they do not attempt to fundamentally alter that system…what we need, if we are to approach sustainable water, are dependable, enduring long-term savings that are inherent in our water management processes. To get there, we need to get more deeply into how we manage water, and to fundamentally reform those processes.” Read More

February 12, 2013

16th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 15-18

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual 4-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Everyone is welcome–from beginning bird watchers to experts. Learn More

How Hill Country Grazing Led to Cedar Fever in Texas

Grazing practices introduced to the Hill Country region in the late 19th century may be the cause of your cedar allergies. Read how from State Impact Texas.

February 7, 2013

Designing Sites for Water – hot topic at ECT February 15th

With so much in the news about drought and lack of funding for new water projects, it is more important than ever to re-think the way we manage water and ways to be efficient with water – particularly in new development. Check out the many wonderful topics and speakers lined up for the ECT “Water Key to Our Future.” Register Now

February 6, 2013

Public meeting in Junction Feb. 21 on protecting Upper Llano River Watershed

A group of stakeholders working to protect and improve the water quality and flows of the North and South Llano rivers is holding a public meeting on Feb. 21 in Junction. Details

Design opportunity for Hill Country Towns

Design is an important tool for rural communities to build upon existing assets and improve the way a community looks, its quality of life, and its economic viability. A grant opportunity exists through the Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design to help your community to design for the future. The deadline to apply is March 5th. Learn More

Finding Water Amid Drought

In a joint Natural Resources Committee Hearing, Legislators learned that “There are 19 water systems spread throughout the state with less than 180 days of water supply left, according to the TCEQ. Twelve water systems have less than 90 days of water and three have less than 45 days.” Conservation and the development of new technologies, such as reuse, was the common theme of testimony heard. Read more from State Impact here.

February 5, 2011

Regional Leaders support transit vision

The Regional Transit Vision Map will help lay the groundwork for the next 25 years of regional mobility investment including urban rail and the Lone Star Rail project from Austin to San Antonio. “…experts have acknowledge that highways alone will not solve Austin’s traffic problems.” More at Austin Mobility News. Learn more about Hill Country transportation issues here.

February 4, 2014

Taking care of water in San Antonio

San Antonio’s cheapest source of water is conservation – water we don’t use. Because of San Antonio’s conservation success, as well as the availability of new supplies, SAWS is proposing revisions to the city’s drought ordinance. Read more from SAWS.

February 1, 2013

Liquid History – A Water Poem all Must Read

Sky Lewey describes this as the “most beautifully accurate description of rivers” she’s ever read. HCA loves poetry -we open all board meetings with inspirational words to help us become grounded in our work. Imagine all policy decisions guided by wisdom like this. Liquid History by Dan Caudle, Upper Trinity GCD Director and distinguished Range Conservationist. Liquid History

Myths about our Creeks and Rivers: Myth 2, Droughts are Bad

It is always difficult to force oneself to see the positive side of adversity. However, most people will readily admit that hardship, suffering and pain are not only a normal part of life, but are actually beneficial and desirable when viewed as part of the big picture. Read Steve Nelle’s Riparian Notes for January 2013.