June 30, 2011

Environmental Stewardship appeals GMA 12 DFC

The Bastrop County-based nonprofit organization Environmental Stewardship submitted a petition to Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-­12) appealing the desired future conditions for the aquifers within all areas of groundwater management in Area 12. Read more

Hill Country Alliance announces photo contest winners

The fifth annual photography contest held by the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) received hundreds of beautiful entries that capture the unique places, lasting treasures and special qualities the Texas Hill Country is known for. HCA announces four winning photographs, each capture the magical qualities of this region that need to be protected for future generations to enjoy and experience. Read more here.

June 29, 2011

What’s Happening to Texas’ Water

Travis County is presenting a series of programs produced by LCRA and Parks and Wildlife to help educate residents about the seriousness of our water challenges, drought conditions and land issues. More about the program including dates and times of broadcast through July here.

Water-Starved Town May Face Draconian Restrictions

Llano is entirely dependent on its namesake river for its community water supply. If the river stops flowing altogether — which could happen sometime next month — the city has estimated, conservatively, that it has 60 to 90 days of water storage in its reservoir, city manager Finley deGraffenried told the Tribune. Read the full Texas Tribune article here.

How Severe is the drought?

“Measured inflows from October 2010 through May 2011 have been the lowest for that eight-month period since the record began in 1942.” Maps and statistics published by the LCRA illustrate the seriousness of our conditions.

June 28, 2011

The state of Texas water is complicated, with challenges around every bend

“In a state where most of us are seemingly always one day closer to the next drought, water and weather are top of mind for Texans,” TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith introduces “The State of Water, A Decade Later.” Read more

June 27, 2011

Drought will cause $3 billion loss in Texas

Drought will cause $3 billion loss in Texas CRAWFORD, Texas – It looks like harvest time in Texas, but for fourth-generation farmer Bert Gohlke it’s actually a financial disaster. His potential losses? More than a quarter of a million dollars – but that’s just a fraction of the $3 billion the historic drought will cost Texas farmers and ranchers. Click here for CBS News story.

June 21, 2011

Dealing with the Hill Country’s Dire Drought

Sixth generation Texan, local columnist, Ed Mergele observes, “We have plowed up the grass lands, we have drilled holes to drain the aquifers that took thousands of years to fill, we have built millions of structures, roads, and parking lots over the once porous soil, so that the aquifers cannot possibly refill, and worst of all we have overpopulated an area that cannot support us.” Click here to read Ed’s column recently featured in the Hill Country Weekly.

Highland Lakes Face Drought – A five part series by Kate Galbraith

This week The Texas Tribune is featuring the five part series about the LCRA,Water Fight, about the devastating drought’s affect on the diverse interests in the Highland Lakes. “Three major power plants are using about 45 percent more water now versus two years ago.”

June 19, 2011

Water woes threaten growth

Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board issues a frightening report about our water future. It’s usually met with uncomprehending shrugs. The next report likely won’t vary much from the last one — which found that 85 percent of Texans won’t have adequate water in a drought by 2060 unless we come up with $30.7 billion worth of new water projects (although preliminary reports indicate the cost will be substantially higher). Read full SA Express-News article here.

Dwindling Lakes, Growing Water Demand in Central Texas

On the cliffs surrounding Central Texas’ large Lake Buchanan, a white ring extends some 13 feet above the shoreline, marking where the water reaches when the lake is full. At nearby Lake Travis, staircases that once led to the water’s edge now end well above it. These two lakes serve as key water sources for dozens of cities and hundreds of farmers, as well as for several power plants. Read more from Texas Tribune here.

June 17, 2011

Drought presents a genuine danger for birds

The lack of water and insects means many songbird chicks may die from lack of nutrition. Many parent songbirds may be dangerously weakened from lack of food before their migratory journey south in a few months. Read more from SA Express-News here.

June 16, 2011

WVWA files second appeal on 30-foot drawdown proposal

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association expected to file an appeal on Friday with the Texas Water Development Board, describing as “unreasonable” the Desired Future Conditions adopted by GMA 9 last year. Read full Wimberley View article here.

As Drought Intensifies, Wildscaping Can Help Texans Save Water

Texas residents are asked to monitor and reduce their water usage, yet home and land owners may feel they have little control over resource conservation when it comes to manicured lawns and upkeep of green spaces. They may have heard of alternative gardening as a way to cut costs and save water, but may not know where to turn for advice or information. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife here.

Edwards Aquifer Authority reports Stage III restrictions imminent across region

With little prospect for rain in the foreseeable future, additional reductions in pumping from the Edwards Aquifer appear to be imminent, according to information presented Tuesday to the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors during its monthly meeting. In a report to the board, Authority staff indicated that soaring temperatures and the continued lack of rain are likely to result in further drought-induced pumping restrictions for Edwards Aquifer users across the region. Read more

Cow Creek GCD moves to a Stage 5 Drought Condition

At their June 13th, 2011 Board Meeting, the Cow Creek GCD’s Board of Directors moved from Drought Stage 4 – Severe Drought to Drought Stage 5 – Extreme Drought. General Manager Micah Voulgaris recommended the move, citing the lack of rainfall, historic lows in several of the District’s monitor wells and the extremely low stream flow levels in the Guadalupe River. here.

Drought could dry Llano River by week’s end, officials say

As of Wednesday, the Llano River, which normally courses through town at 158 cubic feet per second this time of year, was flowing at 3.8 cubic feet per second — the slowest since 1953, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The river is the city’s sole source of drinking water. Read full Statesman.com article here.

June 15, 2011

LCRA delays water for coal plant decision until August

The board of the Lower Colorado River Authority decided today to table a contract that would send at least 8.3 billion gallons of water a year to a proposed coal-fired power plant near the Gulf Coast. Read full Statesman.com article here.

June 14, 2011

Power plant in Matagorda Co. gains in water fight

The Lower Colorado River Authority says there is enough water, even in dry times, for a proposed coal-fired power plant in Matagorda County — a finding that all but removes one of the last hurdles for the controversial project. Read full Houston Chronicle article here.

Motal named LCRA General Manager

Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Rebecca S. Motal as general manager, replacing Tom Mason, who announced last week that he is resigning July 1. Read more

June 13, 2011

Travis County preparing Parks, Conservation and Transportation Bond Package

Travis County will consider a 2011 Bond Program that could make a significant contribution to land conservation, not only for the park system but also to purchase development rights (PDR’s) from willing landowners. Public meetings are scheduled the weeks of June 20 and 27. Meeting schedule here. More information here.

Sierra Club Releases Report showing Not Enough LCRA Water for Proposed White Stallion Coal Plant

The Sierra Club today released a report, “Proposed White Stallion Coal-Fired Power Plant Water Demands and the Highland Lakes Water Supply”. Along with Matagorda County rancher-land stewards, Sierra Club asked the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to deny a water contract for the proposed White Stallion coal plant. Read more here.

LCRA to consider water deal for power plant

In one of its first major water contracts since a record drought left the basin stricken in 2009, the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority could decide on Wednesday to sell at least 8.3 billion gallons of water a year to a proposed coal-fired power plant near the Gulf coast. Read full Statesman.com articlehere.

The Texas Chapter of the Building Commissioning Association will hold its first local meeting June 22 in San Antonio

Join the BCA for the first local meeting of the newly formed Texas Chapter. Members and non-members are welcome to attend this technical lunch session intended to bring together commissioning industry participants from the San Antonio-Austin Corridor. Read more

June 10, 2011

Firewise Town Hall Meeting set for June 16 in Boerne

The Firewise Town Hall Meeting is designed to help residents learn how to protect their homes and families by becoming “Firewise.” Representatives from Texas Forest Service and the Boerne Fire Department will be on hand to answer questions and provide tips. Read more

Water Policy in Texas Legislature Rode on One Word

With the Big Dry upon us, the longstanding fight over the water percolating under the surface in nine major and 20 minor underground aquifers was bound to get contentious before the end of the 82nd legislative session. And it did, at least for a while, because of a single word. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

Aquifer pumping fees are going up

The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program has agreed to increase pumping fees to protect the endangered species of the San Marcos and Comal springs and thus maintain local control of the water source for 2 million people. Read more from SA Express-News here.

June 9, 2011

Post-session, some environmentalists feel they dodged legislative bullet

For environmental activists, the legislative session looked to be a grim one as it got under way in January. Keen on regulating businesses, they had feared that a body empowered by the 2010 elections to cut government oversight would drastically loosen environmental rules. Now some of them feel as if they had dodged a disaster. Read the full Statesman.com article here.

What is Hill Country?

For anyone who has been there, it should come as no surprise that the Hill Country north and west of San Antonio should be such a popular destination for everything from day trips to vacations. And those who live in or around this geographical region of Texas hear the term “Hill Country” so often that they might well think there is a single official definition for the area. It turns out, however, that this is not the case. Read the full Examiner article here.

June 8, 2011

Desired Future Conditions Threaten the Colorado River

The adopted Desired Future Conditions for our aquifers will cause the Colorado River to lose its base-flow by 2060. Environmental Stewardship illustrates this point and introduces “Project Game-Changer.” Learn more

Head of Major Texas Electric and Water Supplier Resigns

The general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority announced his resignation Tuesday, setting off a potential battle over the future of the enormous Central Texas wholesale electricity and water supplier. Read full Texas Tribune article here.

June 7, 2011

LCRA General Manager Tom Mason to resign

LCRA General Manager Tom Mason announced today that he is resigning, effective July 1. “This is an organization that builds and maintains large infrastructure assets like dams, power plants and transmission lines, but I’ve always believed that its greatest asset is its people,” Mason said. “I am honored to have worked with so many dedicated public servants. I will miss them all.” Read more

Drought reveals deeper area water issues

The water in the San Marcos River and Barton Springs may be more closely related than previously thought. It’s long been believed that an underground divide separates the water flowing from two springs, but a new study has found that’s not always the case. “The assumption was whatever happens in the San Antonio segment of the Edwards Aquifer doesn’t really impact what’s going on at Barton Springs and vice versa,” Todd Votteler with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority said. “But the study shows that’s not necessarily true during these really serious droughts.” Read full YNN story here.

Regional Transportation Plan for Comal and Guadalupe Counties

The City of New Braunfels is pursuing the formation of a regional metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and the creation of a regional transportation plan. Residents and stakeholders are encouraged to get involved in this process that will determine the appropriate types of roads, review the environmental aspects of relocating or expanding roads and proposing new roadway alignments. Open houses to share draft concepts and gather input from the community will be held June 16th and June 20th . Learn more and get involved.

June 6, 2011

Dr. Neal Wilkins named new director of Texas Water Resources Institute

Dr. Neal Wilkins, director of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources at College Station since 2006, also became director of the Texas Water Resources Institute headquartered at College Station June 1. Read more

More Roads, More Traffic

Building roads in urban areas doesn’t alleviate traffic, a study finds, because every mile built leads to a corresponding increase in vehicle-miles driven. Other studies have come to similar conclusions, but none has been so comprehensive. Read full Wall Street Journal article here.

Texas Conservation Action Plan comment period June 10-July 8

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking online public input as the department revises its six-year-old wildlife action plan, a document now called the Texas Conservation Action Plan. Learn more here.

June 2, 2011

Signs of the times: billboards, property rights, and the enlightenment

I’ve noticed on the highways between Austin and Medina a creeping excrescence of billboards. They pop up even in and near Johnson City, so close to the LBJ Ranch, which was the home of Lady Bird Johnson, the force behind the 1965 Highway Beautification Act which sought to dismantle the fungal proliferation of billboards along scenic American roadsides. Can you guess that I will never, ever, under any circumstances buy or use anything advertised on these blights on the beauty of the Hill Country? Read more from Madroño Ranch here.

June 1, 2011

Wastewater Plant Suit Warned

A group of waterfront landowners on the Pedernales River reportedly intend to file suit against the City of Fredericksburg if improvements are not made to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The citizens’ group — represented by attorney David Braun of Braun & Associates in Dripping Springs — maintain that discharges from Fredericksburg’s wastewater plant have caused abnormal growths of algae in the Pedernales as far downstream as Lake Travis. Read more from Fredericksburg Standard here.

Parched Drought of 2011 – Fredericksburg Times Standard

In December, the old Gillespie County rancher looked back over the previous three months when less than a half-inch of rain had fallen on his land and said, “Surely things will get better soon.”…Over the past month, the county has slipped from moderate to severe drought status, according to the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index monitored by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District headquartered in Fredericksburg. Full article here.

Comments for the Southern Edwards Plateau HCP (SEP-HCP) extended to June 10

Bexar County and the City of San Antonio are involved in a regional planning effort to balance the conservation needs of rare plants and animals with the demand for economic growth and development. The Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (or “SEP-HCP”) covers south central Texas, including Bexar, Medina, Bandera, Kerr, Kendall, Blanco, and Comal counties. Five public meetings will be held between June 6th and June 14th. Comments on the draft plan can be submitted through June 10th. More information about the SEP-HCP here. For general information about Habitat Conservation planning in the Hill Country click here.