Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Legal Blow to Sustainable Development

A Legal Blow to Sustainable Development

Published: June 26, 

STRAFFORD, Vt. — LOST amid the Supreme Court’s high-profile decisions on affirmative action, voting rights and same-sex marriage was another ruling that may turn out to have a profound impact on American society. The court handed down a decision on Tuesday that, in the words of Justice Elena Kagan, will “work a revolution in land-use law.” 

While that may sound obscure, the decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District will result in long-lasting harm to America’s communities. That’s because the ruling creates a perverse incentive for municipal governments to reject applications from developers rather than attempt to negotiate project designs that might advance both public and private goals — and it makes it hard for communities to get property owners to pay to mitigate any environmental damage they may cause. Read More....

Neighbor to Neighbor News June 24, 2013

Neighbor to Neighbor News                    
June 24, 2013
Hill Country News
Hays County Neighbors are outraged over sports complex lighting
"Remember that Hays County has very limited authorities on private property in unincorporated areas,” County Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. “Henly's night sky is usually a pitch black canvas, with only the moon and stars exposed. Neighbors like Cindy Cassidy say the sports complex has taken that from them.”  Read the full story from YNN. More about protecting the Hill Country Night Sky here.

Landowners win lawsuit challenging golf course development next to Jacob’s Well
District Judge Dwight L. Peschel ruled today in Hays County District Court that Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and local landowners were wrongly denied their right to a contested case hearing on a groundwater pumping permit for a golf course next to Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas. Read more from WVWA.

Public Meeting set regarding Cement Plant, June 27th
Citizens in Comal County have valid concerns regarding a proposed cement plant in Spring Branch. Because counties have little oversight in unincorporated areas, landowners must make their case before TCEQ. A public meeting has been set for June 27th at 7 pm in New Braunfels.  Read more from the local neighbors and landowners who are encouraging participation.

AIA Presents 3rd Annual Sustainable Urban Development Luncheon, August 1st in San Antonio
Featuring Edward Mazria, Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization developing planning, policy, and design solutions for low-carbon, resilient built environments worldwide. Details

Anti-Scenic Bills Die
Texas cities will continue to determine how their cities look because your voices were heard! Three proposed bills that would have done permanent damage to our urban landscapes and overridden city ordinances were halted at the State Capitol. Read more from Scenic Texas.

Billboard bill goes unfiled
A proposed bill aimed at fighting billboard blight in Comal County went nowhere in the Legislature. State Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, said he and state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who were asked to sponsor the bill, thought the measure conflicted with the rights of property owners. Read More

2013 Rainwater Revival - Sponsors and Vendors welcome
Would you like to be a sponsor or vendor for the 4th Annual Rainwater Revival?  Visit to download your application!

Upcoming Events

June 24 in Kerrville - Hill Country Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Monthly Meeting - Drought: Past, Present and Future - Free and open to the public - Details

June 26 in Austin - TCEQ Stakeholder Meeting on LCRA Water Management Plan - Details

August 1 in San Antonio - AIA Presents 3rd Annual Sustainable Urban Development Luncheon - Details
August 20 in San Antonio - Sierra Club meeting, "The Inner Workings of the Edwards Aquifer" - Details

August 22-29 in San Marcos - 2013 Texas Groundwater Summit - Details

September 27-29 in Fredericksburg - 13th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair - Details

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Landowners win lawsuit challenging golf course development next to Jacob’s Well

District Judge Dwight L Peschel ruled today in Hays County District Court that Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and local landowners were wrongly denied their right to a contested case hearing on a groundwater pumping permit for a golf course next to Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas.  
Jacob's Well, Wimberley, Texas

On Febuary 21st, 2011 Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation district approved a permit for up to 162,000,000 gallons of water over in a single year for a golf course irrigation permit in the vicinity of Jacob’s Well.  WVWA attorney Malcolm Harris said “This level of pumping would equal sixteen months of Jacob’s Well’s flow under current flow conditions at one half of a cubic foot per second.” 

The Landowners and WVWA requested that the agency hold a contested case hearing to present scientific data showing the negative impacts on local aquifers and individual water wells and the groundwater that feeds spring flow to Jacob’s Well.

Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District denied the request to have contested case hearing and WVWA  joined landowners to file suit in Hays County District Court challenging the agency ruling and the issuance of the permit. Today, the court found that the decision by the administrative agency denying to Plaintiffs a Contested Case Hearing on the WSP application was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The Court reversed the action of the agency and sent the matter back to HTGCD for further proceedings in accordance with the Court’s Judgment. 

Wimberley Springs Partners owns and operates the Quicksand Golf Course in the City of Woodcreek and is seeking to pump millions of gallons to develop a second golf course from five wells in the area. The golf course developer also seeks to have the right to transfer the irrigation water to municipal use without having to apply for a new permit.

The WVWA and landowners are concerned that additional pumping in the area will damage the declining Trinity Aquifer that supplies the water to Cypress Creek and local wells. It is known that the aquifer is already over-appropriated, as more water is currently pumped than annually recharges the aquifer in the Texas Hill Country region. 

Executive Director David Baker said, “We are interested in looking for ways to decrease our dependence on groundwater in this area. The Trinity Aquifer is over pumped and adding a golf course development adjacent to Jacob’s Well will cause Cypress Creek to dry up.  It may even happen this summer given current conditions.” Cypress Creek and the Blanco River are dependent on spring flows from Jacob’s Well and these same waters recharge the Edwards Aquifer downstream and contribute to spring flows at San Marcos Springs and impact Barton Springs during drought conditions.

WVWA attorney Malcolm Harris said, “ We hope the ruling will open the door for Hays Trinity and Wimberley Springs Partners to work with the local community to develop solutions.  We need a process using good science, drought management and alternative water supply from rainwater harvesting to restore the spring flow at Jacob’s Well and maintain healthy groundwater water supply for area residents.”


Malcolm Harris , David Baker  (512-785-8950)

In the Flow: A Water News Bulletin from the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and The Texas Tribune

Vol 1, Issue 7

Rivers Tested by Drought, Population Growth

As the drought continues to blanket most of the state, demands for water are increasing from a growing population and industrial base. These pressures are squeezing Texas waterways, whose average streamflow remains well below normal.

Sign up for the In the Flow newsletter

Friday, June 14, 2013

WVWA Notice of final hearing trial on golf course water permit-June 19th at 9:30am

A half-day hearing/trial has been set next week Government Center, 3d Floor, in the suit filed by the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and concerned citizens against the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.  The Plaintiffs are WVWA and individual citizens who have appealed to the District Court to require the HTGCD to hold a contested case hearing on the application of Wimberley Springs Partners to pump millions of gallons of groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer in the vicinity of Jacob's Well for a golf course development. The WVWA encourages the public and concerned citizens to attend the hearing. on June 19 at 9:30 the Hays County

Judge Dwight L. Peschel from Guadalupe County has previously 
ruled that the District’s refusal to grant a contested case hearing was arbitrary and capricious and a denial of procedural due process. The hearing/trial next Wednesday will determine whether Judge Peschel’s prior ruling will be incorporated in a final judgment in the case. 

The Hays County District Courts have moved to the new Government Center at 712 South Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos, TX 78666.

 GPS locators/maps do not have the correct location of our new building and may show you a similar, private address that is not close to the Government Center.

To find the Government Center: take the Wonder World Drive exit off of IH-35 and head west, or head east on Wonder World Drive from Hunter Road. At the bottom of the Wonder World Drive railroad overpass, turn North on South Stagecoach Trail.

The Government Center is a large, stand-alone building at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Proposed Woodcreek North Golf Course and platted lots
The Permit request is for 81.4 Million Gallons