Friday, July 10, 2015

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here for a link to view it online. 

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    
July 9, 2015

Hill Country News
Industrial Wind Development Public Meeting July 16 in Mason
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE) will be hosting a meeting July 16th to educate landowners about industrial wind development in Mason and Menard Counties. SOSHE’s recent member update also includes information about attempted legislation to end CREZ, the Blumenthal line and other news related to wind development, transmission and scenic blight. Read more
State Comptroller approves $300,000 to investigate monarch decline
Texas is getting involved in the investigation into why the monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 80% over the past 20 years. Concerns that the butterfly could become a federally-listed endangered species have prompted Comptroller Glen Hegar to fund research into the abundance and distribution of milkweed, a plant that is critical for the monarch’s migration, as well as the potential costs of a listing. Read more 

El Nino 2015
It seems like there has been a lot of discussion of an El Nino pattern this fall and the potential for higher than normal rainfall. While Texans try to make the most of the rains while we’ve got them, we wonder, what causes this pattern and what are the impacts in other places around the world? Check out this two minute video to learn more. Read more 

The History of Central Texas Floods
Raymond Slade, Jr., Registered Professional Hydrologist has been studying water resources in Central Texas for decades. Catastrophic flooding is not new to this region. Raymond’s study of historic floods in Austin provides lessons for the entire Hill Country region. Also, Ron Green of Southwest Research Institute studies advance warning for flooding in Karst regions. View these valuable presentations to learn more. Read more 

DSHS student grant to fund rainwater catchment system

Elena Lundeen wanted to help the water conservation problem, a need her community knows all too well. Her small idea became a grant-winning initiative that will continue to change the landscape of her school. Lundeen, a Dripping Springs junior, won a $1,000 grant from Rainwater Revival and Hill Country Alliance. The money will be used to develop a rainwater catchment system at the high school. Read more 

Protecting the nighttime view simple

Erin Green, Llano County Journal: Although light from Austin and other nearby cities is starting to threaten the nighttime darkness of the areas surrounding Llano and the rest of the Texas Hill Country, it is not too late to reverse the trend and protect the views of the heavens. That was the message from Matt Lara of the Hill Country Alliance, whose “Better Lights for Starry Nights” Dark Sky Program sought to address the importance of dark skies and ways  protect against light pollution, such as fixing wasteful outdoor lighting and safely, effectively and cost-efficiently lighting homes and businesses. Read more 

Scenic Texas Announces New Scenic Hill Country Chapter and Leadership
Scenic Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of Texas, announced the formation of its newest chapter, Scenic Hill Country, bringing the total number of state chapters to eight. The Scenic Hill Country Chapter will work to preserve, protect and enhance the Hill Country’s scenic vistas by educating the region on the values and principles of the Scenic City Certification Program, a project of Scenic Texas and its program partners. Read more 

LCRA: Lots of water for sale
In the latest sign of the drought’s ebbing, two top officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority met with Hays County commissioners to deliver a simple message: They have spare water for sale — lots of it. The river authority, which oversees the doling out of water from lakes Travis and Buchanan, the chief reservoirs for Central Texas, has enough unreserved water to meet the washing, bathing, drinking and watering needs of roughly 230,000 households, even during a repeat of dire drought conditions. Read more

Are we “overestimating” our resources?

It’s often said that many of our aquifers and rivers are already over-allocated in Texas. In 1922, seven Western states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California — drew up an agreement on how to divide the waters of the Colorado River. But there was one big problem with the plan: They overestimated how much water the river could provide. As a result, each state was promised more water than actually exists. Read more

Soil for Water, July 17 in Fredericksburg
Many Texans are unaware of the importance of soil health in catching and retaining rainwater. Microorganisms build soil organic matter and allow it to function like a sponge: holding rainwater for long periods of time and releasing it slowly into plants, springs, creeks, rivers and aquifers. If you are interested in learning how you can build the health of your soil and keep more rainfall on your land in both times of drought and rainfall, come to the first meeting of the Soil for Water program this July 17th in Fredericksburg. Read more

Upcoming Events

July 8 in Austin: Region K RWPG meeting and public hearing on the Initially Prepared Plan (IPP) - Details

July 14 in Austin - Sierra Club Meeting: Al Gore's Climate Reality Project - Details
July 15 in San Antonio - SAWS Community Conservation Meeting - Details

July 16 in Mason - SOSHCE Industrial Wind Development Public Meeting - Details

July 17 in Fredericksburg - Soil for Water: The role soil health plays in catching and holding rainwater - Details
July 23 in Rocksprings - Region J Public Meeting to discuss and receive comments in regards to the Initially Prepared Plan (IPP) - Details

July 27 in Kerrville - Do you know who's taking over your yard? - Details
August 11 in - Abandoned Well Education & Plugging - Details

August 11 in - Austin - Sierra Club Meeting: Lone Star Rail - Details

August 18 in - Buchanan Dam - Better Lights for Starry Nights - Details

August 22 in - Rainwater Potential - Details

August 25-27 in - San Marcos - The 4th Annual Texas Groundwater Summit - Details

Sunday, June 28, 2015



This petition will be delivered to Senator Ted Cruz:
Concerns about climate change aren't just politics. Meet with Hays County residents to discuss their concerns about role of climate change in making Texas floods more severe!
A letter from Scott & Carol Price, whose home was devastated in the Memorial Day flood in Wimberley, Texas:
          Dear Majesta,
We never thought the floodwaters would reach our home more than 40 feet above the Blanco Riveroutside of Austin. But today, we and hundreds of our neighbors are rebuilding, mourning the loss of life and, painfully, coming to terms with what scientists say may be a new normal if we don’t rein in climate pollution.
That's why we were horrified to hear our Senator, Ted Cruz, brush off a question about climate change by saying, “In a time of tragedy, I think it's wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster.”

This tragedy shows exactly why Senator Cruz needs to face the facts on climate change — and with the help of Forecast the Facts members, we'll personally deliver that message to him in Austin with our neighbors next week.

Floods are common in the Texas Hill Country, but not like this one — a tsunami-like wall of water that was the highest recorded flood in the history of the state. Unfortunately, that record may not last as long as we'd like, as a warming climate is predicted to make flooding and extreme precipitation more frequent and severe. Our State Climatologist said that climate change likely even amplified this flood. Scientists point to record ocean temperatures and warmer air boosting the power of the storm.

As we sift through the damage, we’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors and local volunteers. Putting aside differences, our community is coming together to clean up the mess and build for the future. It's time to push Senator Cruz to do the same, and take responsibility for cleaning up climate pollution and building a cleaner future for his constituents.

Carol and Scott Price, Texas Homeowners


"More Rain Targeting Flood-Ravaged Texas; Did Climate Change Contribute to Floods?" New Day, CNN, 5-26-2015
"Gov. Abbot: The is the highest flood recorded in state of Texas," Austin American-Statesman, 5-25-2015
"Heavy Downpours Increasing" National Climate Assessment 2014, accessed 6-23-2015
"Climate Change May Have Souped up Record-Breaking Texas Deluge" Scientific American, 5-27-2015
"Climate Change, a Factor in Texas floods, Largely Ignored" Texas Tribune, 5-27-2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

HCA Press Release - Six Schools Win Grants to Fund Conservation Projects

June 4, 2015
Blanco Middle School
Blanco Middle School

(Bee Cave, TX) Managers of the Rainwater Revival school grant program were happily overwhelmed with 13 terrific grant applications from Hill Country schools this year. Though all projects had merit, the three judges made difficult choices and picked six deserving schools to receive $1,000 awards each.

“Judging by the quantity and quality of proposals for rainwater catchment and water conservation projects this year, it’s clear that teachers and schools are putting a priority on helping students learn the value of water as an important shared resource,” said Karen Ford, who leads the Rainwater Revival event for the Hill Country Alliance.

The Rainwater Revival is a daylong educational event that takes place every fall amidst a festival-like atmosphere at a Hill Country venue. It brings together knowledgeable speakers, demonstrations, products, music, food and children’s activities to help citizens and businesses learn how to harvest rainwater for beneficial use.

At each year’s Revival, the ever-popular rain barrel art auction generates funds for the school grant program. The art barrels are 55-gallon drums turned in to functional works of art by Hill Country artists and high school art classes who volunteer their time and talent. Since it started in 2010, the Rainwater Revival art barrel auction and grant program have funded 19 schools for rainwater capture and water conserving projects.

“Designing, constructing and maintaining water conservation projects brings together math, science, economics and an early appreciation for conserving our precious natural resources,” said Christy Muse, executive director for Hill Country Alliance. “We are so grateful to know these teachers, parents, garden clubs and others are dedicated to teaching our young people how to capture and use rainwater and why it’s important to know and care about water.” 

2015 grants were awarded to:

Blanco Middle School (Blanco ISD): Seventh grade science and ecology teacher, Pam Meier, submitted the winning request to fund a 2,500 gallon rainwater catchment tank that will be used to water the school’s gardens. The project will benefit all 280 students in the middle school as the gardens provide locally grown food for the school cafeteria, and it will enhance learning in math, science, art, and language arts.

Clifton Career & Development High School (Austin ISD): This high school offers career and technical training for special education students, and their winning project to capture rain with a new 2,500 gallon tank will become part of the Horticulture curriculum managed by teacher, Clayton Vader.

Dawson Elementary (Austin ISD): Fourth grade teacher, Chelsa Capers, plans to bring rainwater harvesting to the school/community gardens on their campus to the benefit of all 345 students who will receive numerous science lessons involving the water cycle, natural resources, and conservation.
Dripping Springs High School (Dripping Springs ISD): High school junior, Elena Lundeen, is the driver behind this project to place a rainwater catchment tank inside the school’s 6,000 square foot, open air courtyard to water trees, raised beds and grass, thus reducing the school’s usage of expensive treated water for plant life and promoting sustainable technologies.

Magnolia Montessori for All (Austin charter school):  The school’s substantial gardens will be irrigated by a rainwater harvesting system funded by the grant. Garden coordinator, Nashielly Stein, will help the school’s 300 students, who work in the gardens daily, with lessons in science, nutrition, art, the importance of water conservation, and reducing potable water use.

Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls ISD): Students participating in the High School Horticulture Program will design, implement and operate a rainwater harvesting system to support the organic and aquaponic growing systems in the school’s greenhouses.  Mike Chesnut, MFHS Horticulture teacher, will oversee the project.

A full copy of the 2015 winning grant requests and information on past winners can be found at:

The Rainwater Revival is an annual celebration of collection, conservation and common sense. The free event is sponsored by the Hill Country Alliance, and the next event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. For more information:
The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country. Visit us at      

CORRECTION: HCA Press Release - Texas Water Symposium, June 18 in Fredericksburg

Texas Water Symposium to Feature Regional Water Experts
The 8th Annual Texas Water Symposium series continues this June in Fredericksburg with a personal conversation between Hill Country water experts about the State’s water planning process and the need for public participation. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, increasing demands on our water supply and cycles of intense drought and floods, it is essential that the public is aware of the water infrastructure planning process that is happening now. Read full media release.