November 27, 2013

Financing A Sustainable Water Plan for Texas: Part 3

In a series of three guest blogs, Sharlene Leurig, Water Program Director for Ceres, examines the details of Proposition 6, the water project financing measure approved by Texas voters on November 5th. Proposition 6 amends the Texas constitution to appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to seed a new water infrastructure loan fund directed to water supply projects included in the State Water Plan. Click here to read.

November 26, 2013

The Future of Texas State Parks? It’s All About the Money

Texas Parks and Wildlife is the only state agency with a dedicated sales tax. Under state law, a portion of the sales tax on sporting goods is meant to go for parks. But lawmakers consistently divert some of that money to balance the state budget. Read more from StateImpact.

November 25, 2013

HCA Presents: Night Sky events in Bee Cave and Mason, Dec 11 & 12

As we continue our outreach program to encourage night sky friendly lighting in the Hill Country, we are pulling Bill Wren away from his duties at the McDonald Observatory once again. Join us for a screening of the film The City Dark followed by a presentation by Bill Wren, Dec. 11 in Bee Cave and Dec. 12 in Mason. Learn more about protecting the night sky here.

Town’s mayor promises fight on water line to S.A.

The mayor of Del Rio told San Antonio Water System trustees Monday that his city would use every legal means to block a proposed plan to pipe billions of gallons of water from Southwest Texas to San Antonio. The proposal, made by the V.V. Water Co., would send enough water for more than 150,000 households per year from drought-weary Val Verde County to SAWS by 2018. Red more from SA Express-News.

LCRA Votes to Cut Off Rice Farmers for a Third Year

The mood was grim among folks from Bay City, Eagle Lake and other coastal communities today as the Lower Colorado River Authority board voted 8-7 in favor of an emergency proposal that will likely cut off water to rice farmers for the third year in a row. Read the full article from the Texas Observer. View Sierra Club’s comments and press statement for the November 19 LCRA meeting.

November 19, 2013

Texans Look Beneath the Surface for Water

Unlike surface water, which is owned and allocated by the state, groundwater belongs to the landowner and is regulated by nearly 100 different conservation districts across Texas, all of which set their own rules. The recent drought, along with major court decisions, has led to what some say is the most uncertain time in state history for those who depend on and manage groundwater in Texas. Read the first of this five-part series from the Texas Tribune.

Sierra Club Releases Updated Report on Desalination

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently released an updated version of its popular report on desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and surface water. Desalination: Is It Worth Its Salt? is a basic primer on desalination written for the general public. The report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas. Read More

Keeper of the Dome

Now leading one of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s top five most-visited parks, Doug Cochran sees challenges and opportunities in managing Enchanted Rock State Natural Area’s 1,600-plus acres, which includes the iconic, 640-acre granite dome outcropping. Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.

November 14, 2013

Understanding Texas Water Planning can be a challenge

With groundwater and surface water treated as two independent water supplies under Texas law, it can be tricky to plan for our future generations. Citizen involvement is essential to achieving fair policy to sustain our water supply, a shared resource. A great place to learn is the Texas Living Waters Project – Tune in.

Quality Control Steel talks rainwater harvesting and donates tank to local school

Attendees of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association’s annual conference gathered at Austin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a rainwater harvesting tour and discussion. The tour was hosted by Quality Control Steel who donated a 3000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank to the school. Learn More

November 13, 2013

Another 1600 homes proposed along Hamilton Pool Road

The case for County Authority is made once again on the edge of Austin and Bee Cave. With little county power to deal with intensity and location of development, planning can be left to the utility. More than a hundred residents showed up at City Hall to express concerns about water, traffic and quality of life issues. Learn More

National Association of Realtors survey says smart growth communities are preferred

Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56 percent of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. Read More

With Prop 6 Funded, Water Plans Remain Uncertain

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the state water plan is groundwater regulation. Almost every region in Texas plans to look below the surface for more water supplies. But many water suppliers, including those that serve Austin and San Antonio, are battling for the right to pump groundwater outside their own jurisdiction. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

November 12, 2013

Texas Water Journal Forum: Water, Politics & Drought

The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, will present the inaugural Texas Water Journal Forum, “Water, Politics and Drought,” Nov. 21 in Austin. Learn More

Guadalupe included in report about rivers threatened by water supply projects

Environmental leaders call on water board to focus Prop 6 money on conservation and avoid projects harmful to rivers. “The State of Texas has consistently declined to implement common sense approaches to to maintain in-stream flows to the bays and estuaries – to the point where coastal ecosystems are now in peril,” said Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.” Read the story from Environment Texas.

Why a million gallons of water? Rollingwood well could affect locals

As water becomes scarcer in Central Texas and the thirst for it is on the rise, property owners in Rollingwood are requesting permission to drill a well and pump 913,400 gallons of water per year for their home. More from Hays Free Press.

Sustainability focus of Rainwater Revival

“We’re dealing with so many water challenges in the state, particularly here in the Hill Country. There are a lot of unknowns like how to solve the complex water problems and rainwater harvesting is just a simple thing people can be doing to take the stress off of our aquifers.” Read the full Boerne Star article.

In Drought, Abbott Keeps Lawn Green by Drilling

With what has been described as the worst drought in recorded history punishing parts of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott found a way to keep watering his yard without risking fines or incurring huge monthly bills: He drilled his own well. Austin has no power to stop landowners from drilling water underneath their own terrain in pro-property-rights Texas. It can only monitor the proliferation of private wells, which Jason Hill, an Austin Water Utility spokesman, said officials are doing “vigorously.” More from the Texas Tribune

18-acre ballpark in Hill Country has neighbors upset

Henly is not so much a town as a collection of farmers and ranchers along U.S. 290 between Dripping Springs and Johnson City. Community life revolves around volunteer fire department barbecues and services at the Henly Baptist Church. The unincorporated town, which has more livestock than people, doesn’t have so much as a traffic light or a gas station. More from

Proposition 6 Passes – What is Next

Texas Green Network is hosting an event in Austin, November 21st to examine next steps related to Prop 6. What does this mean for conservation? How do these funds get prioritized? How does this affect the business community? Details

November 8, 2013

Texas voters approve $172 million in parks and recreation

“Parks and recreation won big on the ballot this week,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “At a time when many parks are suffering and natural areas are quickly being eaten up by sprawl, millions of Texans put their money where their mouth is and made a big investment in green spaces, water quality, ball fields, bike trails and in our overall quality of life.” Read the full story.

Scenic Texas Announces New Appointments to Board of Directors

Scenic Texas announces the appointment of three new Hill Country board members. The new appointments are Kathleen Krueger, Former Mayor Pro-Tem, New Braunfels; Paul Robert Goebel, Associate Dean at Texas Tech University, Lubbock; and Chris Cornwell, former PepsiCo Food Scientist, Canyon Lake.Learn More

November 6, 2013

How Prop 6 Passed, and What’s Up Next for Water Projects in Texas

Texans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to jump-start financing for water projects in the state: Proposition 6. The plan will take $2 billion in surplus state money (from the Rainy Day Fund) to start a low-interest loan program for water projects in Texas. The measure had widespread support from both sides of the aisle as well as business and environmental groups. It passed with over 73 percent of the vote. More from State Impact.

November 5, 2013

Rain Barrels: Living with Drought, Rain or Shine

It might have been a clear, crisp fall day in Boerne, but inside the Boerne Civic Center it was raining a solid schedule of rainwater harvesting information at the 4th annual Rainwater Revival. This Hill Country Alliance (HCA) event brought together a full day’s schedule of rainwater experts and professionals to teach and demonstrate a sure way to end all your water woes. Read the full story in the Rivard Report.

CAMPO encourages more community involvement

The new CAMPO website features a pretty bluebonnet-lined Hill Country road on the cover, what are we doing to protect this vision? A new video featuring CAMPO leaders kicks off a new public input vehicle – Mind Mixer. What’s important to you as we grow this region? Quality of life, clean water, natural resource protection, open spaces, rail and bike options? Let CAMPO know.

Let’s Talk About Turf

The choice for cities facing water shortages now or in the future is clear: invest in expensive new water supplies or invest in programs to reduce water use, including outdoor water use. Several smart Texas cities chose the latter. San Antonio Water System provides rebates to customers who agree to reduce their turf grass and to replace it with plants from an approved drought-tolerant plant list. More from

Thinking about a Conservation Easement?

Now is the time because current enhanced tax incentives expire Dec 31. Rules regarding amount of the deduction and the number of years you can take the deduction are about to change. Contact your local land trust for more information. Learn about conservation easements and land trusts working in the Hill Country here.

November 4, 2013

Water myths debunked at CCGCD meeting

Nearly 100 people packed the community room at Patrick Heath Public Library recently to learn about water sources in Kendall County through a program put on by the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District. During the presentation Bob Webster, a member of the CCGCD Education Committee, began by debunking myths about the aquifers that provide water in Kendall County. “It’s amazing how many people believe an aquifer is an underground lake,” Webster said. “Unlike the Edwards Aquifer, our aquifers have a limited amount of open space. It’s not like a big underground lake.” Read the full Boerne Star article. View and share this CCGCD publication that could change the way we think about water throughout the Hill Country region.

November 2, 2013

With Colorado River in Trouble, Many Face Sacrifices

As with nearly every beloved Texas river, the 600-mile Colorado River — which flows from West Texas to the Gulf Coast — is under serious threat. Drought and surging population growth have taken their toll on the water’s flow and its wildlife and, by extension, the farmers and fishermen who rely on it. Learn more from the Texas Tribune.

Farmers Market at the Cibolo sets holiday, winter schedule

The Farmers Market at the Cibolo has announced its new schedule for November and December 2013 and the beginning of 2014. During the remainder of 2013, in recognition of the upcoming holidays, the market will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 16 and 30 and Dec. 7 and 14. The market will be closed for the winter in January and February 2014, and will re-open again every Saturday beginning March 1. Learn More