March 30, 2013

UGRA: River quality in better shape

Water quality in the local Guadalupe River watershed improved last year, according to a recent report by the Upper Guadalupe River Authority. Although 2012 was drier than ideal, a few rainfalls produced beneficial flooding, said Tara Bushnoe, UGRA natural resources coordinator. Read More

March 27, 2013

The Future of the Hill Country

HCA’s David Baker will be part of panel tomorrow (Thursday) hosted by the Hill Country Conservancy focused on developmental trends, landowner perspectives, the effects upon municipalities, infrastructure, groundwater, and most importantly the impacts of this pace of change on residents and the quality of life in Central Texas and the Hill Country. The luncheon program takes place at Green Pastures in Austin. Click here for more information and to make a reservation.

Texas Tribune launches “In the Flow”

Exciting to see The Texas Water Symposium, one of HCA’s partner programs is featured in Volume 1, Issue 1, Story 1. Click here to read the first issue of In the Flow and become a subscriber yourself.

Barnes: George Cofer works to save open spaces

Cofer (head of the Hill Country Conservancy) has led the charge to snap up conservation easements in the Hill Country, allowing some private projects, thereby securing legal protection for other open space in perpetuity. Soon, his group will help break ground on Phase 2 of a grand project — the 30-mile Violet Crown Trail that will link the parks and greenbelts in Austin’s urban core toward a spine of Hill Country that arcs across the Barton Springs recharge zone. More from

Award given to South Llano Watershed Alliance

The Junction-based South Llano Watershed Alliance is a winner of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s 2013 Lone Star Land Steward Award. Former First Lady Laura Bush will be the keynote speaker at an awards ceremony in Austin on May 21. Read More

March 25, 2013

Drought Response Sparks the Battle of St. Augustine

At some point, the realities of water in Texas will reach a point where it is impossible to lay all of the drought’s harm on someone else. Lawns — and whether to keep them in the face of a protracted water shortage — come into the argument. Read more from Texas Tribune.

Water cutbacks loom

If conditions continue unabated, the Edwards Aquifer Authority for the first time in its history, will declare Uvalde County to be in Stage 5, thus triggering a 44-percent cut in pumping.” Read full article from Uvalde-Leader News.

March 21, 2013

Winemiller: The real cost of the Texas drought

The 2011 drought was not as impactful as the “drought of record” during the 1950s. In the wake of that terrible decade, Texas embarked on a massive campaign of infrastructure construction to achieve water security. But the situation is different now, and this time we cannot simply build our way out of a water crisis. Read more from

Water: For Thirsty Lawns or Thirsty People?

The Texas Water Development Board estimates that 40 percent of all municipal water use is outdoors. Of that, half is lost to runoff from the excessive watering of lawns. This is drinking water that is simply wasted. This is water that could easily be conserved. Read more from HCA’s Milan J. Michalec and the Rivard Report.

March 20, 2013

“Kimble County – Where Our Stars Are Stars”

The Kimble County Chamber of Commerce & Junction Tourism has announced their new “Kimble County – Where Our Stars Are Stars!” Night Skies Friendly Business Recognition Program. Learn More

HCA in action featured in the LCRA Aqua Vita newsletter

“Stewardship in Action” by Robin Berry, gives a wonderful recap of our recent Water Symposium and gathering at 700 Springs. “Rural land steward panelists David Langford, Tom Vandivier and Ruthie Russell described how their land management practices help maintain water levels in the beautiful spring-fed Llano River” Read the newsletter and don’t miss the wonderful slide show of pictures!

March 19, 2013

The Texas Water Plan – An 18 Year Old Perspective

Are we listening to the next generation? 18 year-old Justin Wolfe writes, “The state’s next step ought to be to legislate groundwater as a public resource, so as to manage and regulate it effectively. Only by managing this resource can we ensure the longevity of our water system for generations to come.” Read Justin’s full article here.

March 18, 2013

Bringing back the Milky Way

The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) presents a tour of events March 25th through March 28th to further a movement to foster a night sky friendly Hill Country. Programs will take place in Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Llano and Johnson City. Working with local partners, HCA has created a model workshop to teach and inspire ways to protect our night sky from light pollution. Learn More

March 15, 2013

Major Water Funding Bill Moves One Step Forward, Prioritizes Conservation

Significant new funding for water projects in a dry, thirsty Texas moved one step closer to becoming a reality Thursday. The bill, HB 4, would take money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to start a loan program for new water projects. Read more from State Impact Texas.

Monarchs in trouble: Bad news for the butterfly species in Mexico and Texas

“The severe drought in Texas and much of the Southwest continues to wreak havoc with the number of monarchs. The conditions have been dry both here and in Mexico in recent years. It takes four generations of the insects to make it all of the way up to Canada, and because of lack of milkweed along the way, a lot of them just don’t make it.” Read full article from Texas Climate News.

In the Valley, not just farmers, but cities, may run out of water by spring

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, water shortages are shaping up as a crisis not just for farmers but also for entire cities this year, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. In 2009, the area experienced the worst drought in decades, as did much of the state, but this year is shaping up to be much worse for area residents, said Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station. Read More

March 14, 2013

Hill Country Alliance Calls for Entries in 7th Annual Photo Contest

For its 7th Annual Hill Country Photo Contest, HCA is looking for photography that captures the spectacular beauty of this region, images that illuminate the very things that are worth protecting, and the historical or cultural stories that need to be told. The Photo Contest Call for Entries is open through May 31, 2013. Learn More

Judge rules in favor of WVWA

Dwight Peschel, Senior Judge of the 25th Judicial District, has released a letter indicating he is ruling in favor of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in its lawsuit against the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and Wimberley Springs Partners. Read Full Wimberley View article.

March 13, 2013

Cibolo Conservancy sets workshop to help families protect land, receive tax incentives

A workshop exploring how families can legally protect and preserve the legacy of their land – and be eligible for tax relief at the same time – will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm auditorium. Learn More

Texas Water Symposium – the precious springs of Texas

The latest Texas Water Symposium (TWS) was hosted by the Llano River Field Station at Texas Tech in Junction on March 8th. The TWS provides perspectives from policy makers, scientists, water experts, and regional leaders on dealing with the complexity and challenges in providing water for Texans in this century. The Junction symposium focused on the vast importance of springs and the connections between groundwater, surface water, science, and stewardship. Read full Junction Eagle article.

March 12, 2013

Water on the Home Front: New Report Highlights HOA Restrictions on Xeriscaping

“Texas faces an unprecedented water crisis, and most of the HOA landscaping rules that we found are barriers to the ability of ordinary homeowners to conserve,” said David Foster, State Director for Clean Water Fund and the report’s author. He added: “Lawn watering can account for 60% or more of a typical homeowner’s overall water usage.” Read More

Judge rules in favor of the Aransas Project in whooping crane case

The Court issued an order preventing the TCEQ from approving or granting new water permits affecting the Guadalupe or San Antonio Rivers “until the State of Texas provides reasonable assurances to the Court” that new permits would not result in harm to the whooping cranes. Learn More

Catching water from the sky

Water conservation has become a hot-button issue as water becomes more expensive and scarcer, especially during times of drought. Restrictions on landscape watering are common during the hotter months, and the (San Antonio) city council recently approved an 8.4 percent rate increase that SAWS requested. But customers who install catchment systems develop habits that reduce water usage, said Jim Champion of San Antonio-based Texas Rainfall Catchment. “Even with the smallest system, people gain new, better habits about using water,” he said. “They become more conscious of their water use.” Read more from SA Express-News

March 6, 2013

Billboards on Scenic Highways in Comal County

Billboards on Scenic Highways in Comal County will be the topic of the League of Women Voters – Comal Area public meeting March 21. Chris Cornwell, of Scenic Comal County, will describe the problem of proliferation of billboards along highways in the unincorporated areas of the county and Gus Cannon & Wendy Knox, from the Texas Department of Transportation, will explain the current regulations for billboards on state maintained highways in Comal County. Property owners have been invited to provide the point of view defending private property rights and financial considerations. Details

The Central Texas Water Coalition (CTWC) proposes buying out rice farmers

“What we have asked for is simple. That the LCRA take a close look at the concept before authorizing construction of the first reservoir. A committee of farmers and upstream interests should be brought together to see if the idea makes sense, just as the bitter enemies of ranchers and environmentalists eventually came together in the Texas Hill Country to find a middle ground, and to formulate a Win/Win solution to their problems.” Read more from CTWC President Jo Karr Tedder.

Texas’ Water Future: What if it isn’t there – or it’s too costly?

Seeing our legislature taking a good, long and hopefully, logical look at our State Water Plan and its financing is hopeful. But going for the big, expensive and glamorous water projects will often cause more problems and not reduce our appetite for what is now more precious than gold, oil or gas—water. Read more from Mike Mecke in Ranch & Rural living here.

March 5, 2013

Rainwater Revival Garners ‘Texas Rain Catcher’ Award for Public Education Excellence

“We’re honored to receive this recognition from the Texas Water Development Board,” said Karen Ford, HCA Board Member and chair of the event. “Our goal is to offer a useful, entertaining event that inspires anyone interested in conserving our water resources to learn how rainwater harvesting can become a reality for their home or business. With hundreds of people attending each of our three annual events to date, we help make rainwater catchment an easy priority for everyone.” Read More

March 4, 2013

Blanco Post Office Installs Night Sky-Friendly Lights

Sometimes its what you don’t see that is really impressive. Such was the case recently when the Blanco Post Office installed new LED bulbs in the recently replaced carriage lights on the front of the Post Office building. The bulbs that originally had been installed in the new fixtures shined straight out onto the street and caused an irritating white glare for motorists and pedestrians alike. Additionally, because the lights shined above the horizon, they contributed to Blanco’s sky glow. Read more from Blanco County News.