Water resources in Texas are comprised of a variety of sources: rivers, creeks, reservoirs, livestock "tanks," springs, and aquifers. The use of these resources are managed in a complex system that must juggle the interests of industry, agriculture, municipalities, recreation and environment.
This site focuses on the water resources found in the hills of Central Texas, including the basics about aquifers, the management of groundwater, and the economic value of the water. The information is presented as an educational tool for the public in order to promote stewardship in this unique sysem.
Be sure to check out our partners website; the Blanco Water Atlas. http://blancowateratlas.wordpress.com/
Spring to It: Cleaning Tips That Help Take Care of Texas
Developing simple, smart spring cleaning and home improvement habits can make a big difference for the environment and your pocketbook.
- Use less toxic cleaning products and only buy what you need. Clean with reusable rags instead of paper towels. When done, take unused cleaners to a local community household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center. Find HHW collection centers or events in your area.
- Donate any unwanted clothing, shoes, bedding, and furniture. Donated items don’t have to be pristine. Most charitable organizations have textile-specific recyclers who accept their merchandise in bulk and ship to other reuse-markets or recycle the material.
- Donate or recycle used computers and TVs. Texas law requires TV and computer-equipment manufacturers to offer recycling opportunities to consumers. To learn more, visit TexasRecyclesComputers.org or TexasRecyclesTVs.org.
- Check for leaks. A faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Fixing hot-water leaks can save up to $35 per year in utility bills.
- As you wash and put away your winter wardrobe, wash only full loads and use cold water. Washing full loads, as opposed to partial loads, can save more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. Using cold water instead of hot or warm can save more than $30 annually. Hang a clothesline and air-dry your clothes. Clothes dryers account for six percent of residential electricity consumption.
- Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans allow you to raise your thermostat setting about four degrees without discomfort. Energy Star certified ceiling fan/light units are 60 percent more efficient than conventional fan/light units, which can save you more than $15 per year on utility bills.
Put a Take Care of Texas license plate on your vehicle and show everyone on the road that you Take Care of Texas. $22 of the $30 plate fee goes to support the Take Care of Texas program. Order yours today!
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This service is provided to you at no charge by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Visit us on the Web at www.tceq.texas.gov.
Do your part to conserve water and energy, keep our air and water clean, and reduce waste. Find out how at TakeCareOfTexas.org, a program of the TCEQ.
For Immediate Release: Contact: Luke Metzger (512) 479-0388
February 26, 2015
New website evaluates environmental impact of projects in State Water Plan
Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Ratings Given to Highlighted Projects
AUSTIN – Environment Texas Research and Policy Center launched a new website today designed to help educate Texans about the environmental impacts of projects in the State Water Plan. The interactive website – www.OurTexasWater.org - allows Texans to view a map of the state and learn about highlighted projects in their community. The new website comes as the Texas Water Development Board considers the first round of applications for funding from the new water infrastructure fund approved by voters in November 2013.
“Texans understand we need to invest in our water future, but they want smart investments that prioritize cutting water waste and avoid damage to our rivers and wildlife,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “We set up ourTexasWater.org to highlight proposed water projects which responsibly help meet the state’s water needs and those which pose risk to our environment.”
With Texas suffering from historic drought and with population growing rapidly, the State Water Plan is as important as ever. However, Environment Texas Research and Policy Center said the 2012 State Water Plan does not live up to its potential to guide Texas to a sustainable water future. An analysis by the Texas Center for Policy Studies estimates that the plan overestimates water demand in the year 2060 by an incredible 1.1 trillion gallons of water per year. The plan also includes 5 projects – highlighted on the new website - which would cause significant environmental damage to Texas rivers, forests and other sensitive natural areas, while making insufficient use of water efficiency and conservation. If built, these 5 projects would cost taxpayers billions of dollars for projects Texas likely doesn’t need.
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center assigned a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating for some of the projects in the State Water Plan with either the greatest threat to the environment or the greatest opportunity to conserve water. Projects earning a thumbs up include proposals by the cities of Fort Worth and Bedford to identify and repair leaks in municipal water mains, a water reuse project in San Angelo, and a Rio Grande Valley initiative to line irrigation canals on farms to reduce seepage.
The group gave thumbs down ratings to five projects, including:
- The proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir in east Texas, which would destroy rare bottomland forests and pristine wetlands, all of which support beavers, river otters and millions of migratory birds
- A Val Verde County project which could threaten the pristine Devil’s River by pumping groundwater to support fracking operations in west Texas
- Pumping groundwater from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Bastrop County, which could cause “severe negative impacts to local wells and creeks in eastern Texas counties” as well as reduce critical flows in the Colorado River.
The group launched the website as the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) reviews the first batch of applications for funding from the new State Water Infrastructure Fund of Texas (SWIFT). TWDB received a total of 48 projects, including 8 conservation and reuse projects totaling $354 million. TWDB is making $800 million in loans available this year, so if they fund all of the conservation projects, conservation investments could represent 44 percent of the total. TWDB rules specify that at least 20 percent shall go to conservation and reuse programs.
Last year, TWDB staff stated they had received more public comments (more than 8000) on the rules governing SWIFT than on any other issue in their history. The vast majority of these comments urged the Board to maximize the investment in conservation and avoid funding projects which would cause significant harm to the state’s natural resources. A 2013 Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report estimated that Texas could save at least 500 billion gallons of water per year through water conservation strategies.
Information on Electro Purification Drilling in Hays County
The issue of the commercial wells by Electropurification being test drilled in an area between Kyle and Wimberley, into the Trinity Aquifer, was thoroughly discussed last night by about a dozen governmental entities involved, and state rep and senate offices, at the Hays Government Center. I'm sure you will see a lot of TV footage and newspaper articles about it. The crowd was about 300 I would guess, and a round table discussion was listened to by this big crowd, as all the elected and appointed officials tried to come to grips with the problem. The two important things I can tell you about are that there will be legislation to annex this unregulated area into one of the two groundwater districts in the area, either Barton Edwards or Hays Trinity. And Hays County has already passed a resolution to support that kind of help for landowners in the county whose wells are in danger from this pumping of very large amounts from the Trinity. The other good thing that got done last night is that the government officials were talking openly among themselves about how to get Buda emergency temporary water if they needed it, so that they don't feel they have to go to EP, which is a private company trying to take advantage of the unregulated patch of ground, and then try to promise them water that does not exist in sufficient quantity in the Trinity Aquifer, to produce the amount of water EP is promising. That is, without drying up many wells of current residents who have no other source to turn to, since they have rural wells outside of cities. And then there is the issue of springs that flow only because there is enough water left most of the time in the Trinity. These springs are a concern to us and San Marcos residents, since the Trinity springs feed the Blanco which then flows water into our recharge zone for our Edwards springs. This issue is maybe going to be solved by the legislators for this area, but it will not solve the fact that this kind of thing is happening all over central Texas. Rivers are in trouble in all part of Texas, and groundwater pumping is not well regulated. The one thing I would recommend that you do is go to the http://hayscard.org website and sign the petition there. We hope our City will also pass a resolution in favor of regulating this area. And keep up with the meetings via the Hays CARD website and the http://saveourwells.com website. -Info from our friends at San Marcos River Foundation
for Hays Property Owners
The area-wide campaign to save our Trinity Aquifer water got strong reinforcements February 25th with the announcement of a well-funded non-profit corporation aimed at stopping the Electro Purification water grab, as well as promoting legislation that will further protect Texas' precious and vital water resources in the future.
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) is a much-welcomed addition to the many people, organizations and civic leaders united to stop this huge threat to the water supply and private property values which determine the prosperity of Western Hays County. Please read the TESPA announcement below, and continue to sign petitions, attend meetings, call or write your representatives, and check hayscard.org and saveourwells.com to stay current with developments and action steps you can take.
CARD Steering Committee
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Group Formed to Protect Trinity, Edwards Aquifers and Springs
February 25, 2015
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) today announced its formation as a Texas non-profit corporation created to protect these aquifers and their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater property rights associated with owning land over the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers and associated springs.
TESPA was formed as a response to the attempt by a private company -- Electro Purification -- to develop and sell 5.1 million gallons per day of groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer. The Electro Purification project will harm adjacent neighbors who are totally dependent upon private wells in the Trinity for their water supply. However, the issues to be addressed by TESPA go beyond the dispute with Electro Purification to include more general protection for springs throughout central Texas -- springs which are the key to the survival of Texas' beautiful flowing streams and to property values and the use and enjoyment of private property.
According to Vicki Hujsak, President of TESPA and a resident of the Lone Man Creek watershed, "The Electro Purification proposal has made us all aware of how vulnerable our groundwater resources are. We all depend upon this water and we never imagined it could be taken away from us but it apparently can. We have made up our minds to fight back through the legal system."
"TESPA plans to focus its legal efforts under two key approaches initially" said Jim Blackburn, a TESPA board member and property owner in the Lone Man Creek watershed. "First, the Edwards Aquifer Authority has failed to take regulatory authority over the Electro Purification proposal and we dispute that determination based on the many interconnections between the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers through this fractured limestone geology. And second, we believe that there is a fundamental conflict between the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in the Day case and the way that the Rule of Capture works with regard to groundwater. These are controversial issues and we intend to pursue them in the court system."
Malcolm Harris, a Wimberley resident and Austin attorney working with TESPA, adds "The court system is an appropriate place for this dispute over the extent and nature of property rights in water. Courts have been adjudicating property rights since they began, and we will seek a court ruling better defining and protecting the property right in groundwater that the Texas Supreme Court undertook to affirm in the Day vs. EAA case."
In the Day case, the Texas Supreme Court determined that groundwater was the property of the surface owner even if they had not drilled into the aquifer and captured the water. They also stated that they were applying the rule of capture, even though that concept, as interpreted in the 1999 Sipriano Case, allows the draining of a neighbors' groundwater.
According to Jeff Mundy of Austin, lead counsel for TESPA, "The neighbors of this proposed well are in danger of their own water wells going dry. If this corporation can drain 5 million gallons a day for profit, and leave the adjacent homes with dry water wells and people with not even enough to drink, cook, and bathe, who is next? When will elected officials protect citizens?"
"The Texas Constitution is clear that the Legislature must pass all laws appropriate to preserve and conserve the natural resources of the state," says Vanessa Puig-Williams, an attorney and member of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, "but the Legislature has not adequately done so with respect to ground water in Texas, and now people's private property rights are in jeopardy."
More generally, TESPA hopes to set in motion a protective umbrella that covers much of the Texas Hill Country. According to TESPA director Peter Way of the Cypress Creek and Blanco River watersheds, "These springs are the lifeblood of this country. Without water, this land loses the wonderful character that all of us love. Our long term goal is to develop and implement strategies to protect our groundwater and springs."
"Many springs in the Texas Hill Country, such as Jacob's Well, are related to water movements through the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers" said David Baker Executive Director of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, an organizational member of TESPA . "This complex geology defies the current regulatory system. We seek a more comprehensive view of this groundwater system and its relationship to springs and surface water. Sustainable management of all water is what we have come together to advocate for."
According to President Hujsak, "TESPA is currently planning to file suit to protect the Rolling Oaks area immediately adjacent to the Electro Purification proposed project. We are building an organization that we hope will lead the fight for years to come. The one thing we have learned so far is that we will lose this groundwater if we do nothing. We must fight for it."
Download a PDF of this press release for printing and emailing...
Drought Conditions worsen along Highland Lakes
Preliminary 2014 data shows the drought gripping the Highland Lakes is now the most severe drought the region has experienced since construction of the lakes began in the 1930s. As a direct result of the prolonged record-dry conditions and record-low inflows from the streams and tributaries feeding the Highland Lakes, the “firm yield,” or inventory of water LCRA can provide reliably every year, has been decreased by about 100,000 acre-feet, to 500,000 acre-feet per year. (An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.) Further reductions in firm yield are possible as the drought continues. Read more
Stay informed about EP Wells in the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
As the story of unregulated groundwater in Hays County unfolds, there are two websites worth paying attention to for current information about citizen involvement. Citizen’s Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) and Save Our Wells.
PEC Board votes in support of groundwater legislation
“Well drillers are locating these gaps in water district jurisdictions and exploiting them for pure profit,” said PEC District 6 Director Larry Landaker, who sponsored the resolution. “What is happening in Hays County through the misuse of the rule of capture is tantamount to the theft of water by one community to serve another. … That volume of water could … create a serious economic impact to the Hill Country communities we serve. Economic impact to the Hill Country is economic impact to PEC.” Read more from PEC.
Net Blue Initiative Will Help Communites Pursue Water-Neutral Growth
“Communities need to reevaluate traditional planning approaches if they are to support increasing population and economic expansion in the coming years – particularly in areas with high growth and stressed water supplies,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. Read more from the Alliance for Water Efficiency report, "Water Demand Offset Programs Offer a Path to Sustainable Community Development" here.
Statewide leaders release recommendations to confront water sustainability in Texas
A diverse group of water and energy experts, known as the Texas Roundtable on Water, will release a thorough set of recommendations at a Legislative Briefing on February 16, 2015 at the State Capitol in the Auditorium Room E1.004. The recommendations are designed to ensure the security and sustainability of water resources for the long term economic and social viability of Texas. Read more
Aquifer Protection and Trail Expansion Headed for May 9 Ballot
With the San Antonio City Council’s Governance Committee’s unanimous approval, renewal for sales tax funding of the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP) and Howard Peak Greenway Trails System is expected to go to the voters on the May 9 ballot. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Groundwater Wars Brewing in Austin's Suburbs
In a classic example of the gaps in Texas' patchwork approach to regulating groundwater, an unprecedented amount of water may soon be pumped from underneath already parched Hays County with virtually no oversight. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
Andy Sansom: "Action on Texas Water needed now"
"Because the landscape of Texas is more than 95 percent owned by private citizens, vitually 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. Read more.
The Winter 2014 issue of txH2O covers water issues and examines conservation efforts, stewardship strategies, teaches landowners best management practices, land use trends and more..
More Hill Country Headlines
Guadalupe included in report about rivers threatened by water supply projects
Fracking and water: what we can learn from the US experience
Rainwater Harvesting Introduction
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