Friday, July 27, 2012

Jacob's Well Natural Area Master Plan

The Jacob's Well Natural Area Master Plan will be presented to the  Hays County    Commissioners Court at the regular meeting on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.  Commissioners Court begins at 9:00am, and citizens are encouraged to attend if you are available.  Minor editing and other changes per Commissioners Court review and input is most likely to occur prior to release of the final document. 

A court appointed stakeholders committee gave input on the plan and developed the concept plan for the long term preservation of the counties 80 acre preserve.  Once approved the implementation of the elements will begin as funding becomes available and opening the area for more varied recreational/educational experiences for Hays County residents as well as visitors to our County.   

Jacob's Well is truly a natural treasure and major asset that many citizens and visitors to Hays County will enjoy well into the future.  For more information please contact Jeff Hauf, Hays County Grants Administrator at   

To view the final master plan click here  JWNA Master Plan  

That Sinking Feeling About Groundwater in Texas

The recent Texas drought was indeed severe. Lubbock’s rainfall for 2011 amounted to a meager 5.86 inches compared to its long-term annual average of 18 inches.

Besides setting the stage for a record-breaking fire season, the drought forced farmers to pump more groundwater to make up for the rainfall deficit.  Without the extra pumping, the drought would have decimated their crops.

Farmers in the District draw from the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast underground water reserve that supplies portions of eight states and waters 27 percent of the nation’s irrigated cropland.  Since much of the aquifer gets little recharge from rainfall today, rising rates of pumping have led to steady depletion.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a volume of groundwater equivalent to two-thirds of the water held in Lake Erie has been depleted from the Ogallala since 1940.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

CALL TO ACTION - Hearing Rescheduled for August 13th

The Summary Judgment Hearing on the Golf Course Groundwater Permit above Jacob's Well has been postponed until Monday August 13th at 9:00am at the Hays County Justice Center (712 South Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos Texas)

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and a group of concerned landowners are asking the 207th Judicial Court to confirm that the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District denied concerned citizens due process by rejecting their request for a hearing to contest a golf course and municipal groundwater permit for up to 163,000,000 gallons of water.  Hydrologic data indicates that this additional amount of groundwater pumping above Jacob’s Well will cause aquifer levels to drop and cause the spring to stop flowing in the future.  It is difficult to assess the full impact of the additional drawdown without performing an aquifer test on the wells being considered for use. The HTGCD issued the permit on Feb. 21st 2011 without publishing the district’s recommendations or deadlines. 
Additionally, the district failed to require the developer to perform the mandatory aquifer test that is required under current district rules. The HTGCD rule 11 states that “Each applicant for a new well operating permit shall perform an aquifer test and submit a report as part of the operating permit application.” An aquifer test was never performed and the permit was approved via a split 3-2 board vote and in spite of broad public opposition. Numerous citizens protested the golf course and the permit conditions as written by the developer.  The permit allows for the transfer of  80,000,000 gallons of irrigation water to residential use with no further consideration on the impact to current water supply wells or the spring flow to Jacob’s Well, Cypress Creek and the Blue Hole swimming area downstream. 

In this case, the public was not provided notice of a February 21 meeting deadline to submit a hearing request.  Such a failure violated the local residents due process rights, was arbitrary and capricious, and constituted a violation of the District’s own rules.  Moreover, the Board’s 3-2 vote decision to reverse its deadline interpretation after-the-fact meets the very definition of that which is arbitrary and capricious, violating the due process and due-course-of-law clauses of the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, and amounts to a gross abuse of discretion.

Please consider attending the hearing on Monday August 13th to show support for your local water rights and the fair and balanced allocation of water.  Our future water supply and livelihood depends on responsible management of our limited water resources.  To view the full Motion for Summary Judgment Response please click here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Well, that's interesting: Man takes trip down water memory lane

by  Andrea Ball for the Austin American Statesman 

Robert Mace is always on the hunt for postcards.
The Austin man isn't into the typical fodder, though — no landscapes, historical landmarks or retro pinups for him. Mace, 45, collects postcards of artesian wells.

He's got about 100 of them, mostly featuring old photographs of Texas wells from the 1800s and early 1900s. He posts them on his personal website, He also shares photos of wells from other countries, including France, Egypt and Australia.

An obscure passion? Definitely. But for Mace — the Texas Water Development Board's deputy executive administrator of water science and conservation — the hobby makes perfect sense. He likes water. He likes historical stuff. Artesian wells fit the bill for both.

"There's no artesian well association, but I can start one and be the president," he joked.
At a time in which Central Texans are constantly worried about drought and water supplies — some people are actually digging private wells to ensure their grass stays green — a foray into the world of artesian wells is an interesting trip.

Artesian wells are pumpless wells in which water gushes to the surface because of underground pressure. The wells are named after the former province of Artois in France, where monks first drilled them in the 1100s. Their golden age was around 1900, when communities were not only discovering such resources, but promoting them heavily to show their sustainability as a community.
"People would use that to recruit people to move to their towns," Mace said.

Texas had thousands of these wells and benefited greatly, he said. Waco advertised itself as "the Geyser City," with artesian wells supplying the water for Dr Pepper Bottling Co., farms and other businesses. Then, with the development of photography, artesian well postcards emerged.
Seven or eight years ago, Mace was looking for a picture of a well drilled in Paris in the 1800s when he discovered a postcard of it online.

Mace has been collecting the postcards since then, mainly purchasing them from eBay for $5 to $10.
"I'm generally interested in history, so I got bit," said Mace, who also collects old electric fans and calls himself a "borderline hoarder."

In 2010, Mace started his postcard website to share his finds. One shows a well-dressed man sipping from a teacup beside a gushing water pipe. Another shows palm trees near a fountain. Others depict bathhouses, parks and man-made waterfalls.

There are still artesian wells in Texas, Mace said, but most of them are now gone. Some towns just let the wells run free until they stopping running altogether.
"They just played out," Mace said. "It's actually a really good lesson in conservation."

Contact Andrea Ball at aball@; 512-912-2506