Thursday, March 27, 2014

CARDtalk: CAMPO Open House April 2, 2014

You can help shape the future of the transportation systems in Hays County and our metropolitan area by attending an open house from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2nd at the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E Hopkins St. Please see the Open House announcement below. The plans developed by CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) set the strategy for future roadways and public transportation systems that use federal funds - almost all of the larger projects.  Your input into this planning process is vital to the future of our region.  Please attend and participate.

For information on CARD's support of the Hays County Transportation Growth Corridor Plan, see the Transportation page on our website.
CARD Steering Committee

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

AC Daily: Beck signs on for Austin City Limits April taping

March 25, 2014
The Austin Chronicle
Beck Confirms for 'Austin City Limits' Taping
Repping his latest album, Morning Phase, Beck has signed on for an April 27 taping at the Moody, joining a 40th season lineup that already includes Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Eric Church, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.
Foodways Texas Looks at Agriculture Through Different Lenses
College Station played host to Foodways Texas' fourth annual symposium for a weekend that laid bare the embarrassment of Texas riches in terms of both ingredients and culinary talent.
Enviro Advocates Honored
The Save Barton Creek Association handed out awards Monday night to Austin staff members, a council member, a hydrologist, an activist researcher, and the founders of a certain alternative weekly for their contributions to environmental protection.
Today's Events Photo by Travis Shinn / Courtesy of

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


We are thrilled to announce our participation in  I Live Here I Give Here Amplify Austin. Amplify Austin is a 24-hour giving day from 6pm Thursday, March 20, to 6pm Friday, March 21, 2014, to Central Texas nonprofits.

Mark your calendars! On March 20, 2014 at 6:00pm you can donate to help us fulfill our mission and be apart of a community wide day of giving!

You can continue that support through giving on March 20, 2014  Amplify Austin Day,a program of I Live Here I Give Here. Boost our community and give back!
In 2013, the first year, 320 nonprofits participated in Amplify Austin they are expecting over 400 to participate in 2014. Amplify Austin raises much-needed funds for nonprofits of all sizes, in all areas of service.

Their first year results were spectacular, their goal was $1 million and they raised $2.8 million! The 2014, goal is $4 million.  

WVWA's Mission : To advocate for clean, clear flowing springs and streams and the sustained the health of the Wimberley Valley and to engage the community in land and water stewardship through research and education at the Jacob's Well Natural Area.

                                                   Schedule Your Gift Now!   

A generous donor has agreed to match your donation to WVWA!  For all funds raised through Amplify Austin Day, your contribution will be matched to double the impact of your investment in the crystal clear spring water flowing from Jacob's Well all the way to Barton Springs! 

Water Enough? Documentary Film co-sponsored by Austin Film Society

WVWA is working with Austin Film Society and filmmakers Robert Currie and Salwa Khan to produce a documentary film to educate the public about Texas water issues. Water Enough? is a documentary about Texans impacted by drought, told in their own words, and about those who are working to help alleviate the possible devastating consequences of a prolonged drought through innovation, planning, and political action.
The film will explore ways in which the widening gap between supply and demand can and must be met. It will provide answers in the stories of individuals and communities that are tackling difficult water issues every day. Rather than simply detailing the crisis that exists, we intend to show that Texans can find different ways to live with less water. Creative new way of thinking about water use may be what leads to long-term solutions to the growing populations' demands.
Jacob's Well Community Garden Project
WVWA, with the help of local volunteers, has established a community garden on property adjacent to the Jacob's Well Natural Area. The community garden currently has sixteen garden plots being utilized by the local residents and students. Improvements to the property include new fencing, raised beds, rainwater catchment and a composting system. Expanded programs requiring additional funding include community education and outreach programs on the site and a capital improvement project for expanded rainwater harvesting capacity, a greenhouse, food forest and a native plant demonstration garden.
The WVWA is creating a demonstration site for sustainable design including rainwater harvesting for residences and businesses in the Hill Country. We are expanding our programs at The Retreat to provide an opportunity to immerse in the natural environment for educational and experiential workshops for youth and adults, corporate team building, and environmental awareness events. Additional capital funding is needed for completing rainwater harvesting systems, renovation of the event center and community meeting space, expanded water treatment and reuse systems for on-site bathroom facilities, permaculture demonstration gardens and additional low impact tent structures.

Press Release - Build Smart Water Now

 For Immediate Release

Contacts: Tom Hegemier P.E., Chair
Central Texas Land/Water Sustainability Forum

Christy Muse, Executive Director
Hill Country Alliance
Build Water Smart Now

(March 17, 2014) We felt reassured by the fall rains, but most storms missed lakes Travis and Buchanan. Now the empty clouds of drought hover and the water supply clock ticks on. Drought again is a regular headline story: reservoirs are 38% full, driest January on record, hill country creek and river flows dwindle, most downstream farmers will not receive water for an unprecedented third year in a row, once–a-week lawn watering mandated for customers relying on LCRA supplies, increasing water rates with less use, and a threatened lawsuit to provide more fresh water to the river and bays to protect habitat. 

Contrast woeful water news with the following stories: Forbes magazine ranked Austin as the fastest growing city for the fourth year in a row, realtors stating that we don’t have enough houses to meet buyer demand, another industry is moving their headquarters to Austin, and the region’s job growth will continue to spur new home and apartment construction.  This growth tracks with State Water Plan projections that the central Texas population will double to over 3 million people by 2040. 

While we continue to reduce our water use, demands increase every day with new homes of suburbia appearing on the horizon.  Each will require more water, with a considerable amount going to establish and maintain hundreds of acres of new turf grass each year.  In this region, traditional home lawns typically consume 25 to 35% of the annual treated water.  Projecting into the future, new residential yards could require up to 30,000 acre-feet per year by 2040—enough water to meet about 20 percent of Austin’s current demand. 

Some call for a moratorium on new construction to end water demand growth until supplies rebound. But what is the economic impact of that drastic measure, both now and long-term?  Others recommend that cities pay homeowners to remove turf grass and replace with native plants.  Las Vegas has had success with such a strategy and Austin has a small-scale program but the program costs will be high to significantly shrink demands.

Courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Photographers: Andy/Sally Wasowski
One tool now available to manage lawn watering at no cost to existing water customers is “conservation landscaping.”  It relies on deep, high quality soils combined with native plants, trees, mulched areas, and most importantly limited turf to reduce outdoor water use by almost seventy-five percent.   Water quality is improved as limited to no lawn chemicals are necessary.  These landscapes, designed for our climate, improve neighborhood appearance and marketability. A recent Statesman article highlighted one woman’s natural yard in Manchaca: its summer-time color, neighborhood attraction, and, above all, that it doesn’t require water even in the hottest months. 

Conservation landscaping would be paid for by those that build homes rather than existing rate payers. It would, of course, be passed along to the cost of the home purchase. However, in only a few years, the water savings compared to a traditional lawn covers this increased installation cost.

Conservation landscaping is one option in the “Low Impact Development” (LID) toolbox that includes rainwater harvesting, permeable pavements, rain gardens, and others that help new developments use stormwater beneficially to reduce homeowner’s water bills and protect aquifer and lake levels.  The Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum (CTLWSF), a committee composed of private and public water resource professionals actively engaged in the LID water discussion, underscores that LCRA has offered conservation landscaping incentives since 2006 as part of their Highland Lakes water quality protection program.   The CTLWSF believes all central Texas governing bodies should do the same through immediate action so new development will reduce its water use.  This could be done through emergency rules and concise criteria to clearly define incentives and methods to facilitate permitting and construction.

The benefits will be both immediate, for the ongoing drought, and long-lasting, as annual demands remain more stable. When the next drought returns, as is inevitable, we will not be asked to drastically change our water use as it will already be used wisely.  By managing our water growth today we can reduce future water supply needs and rate increases.

We ask that you join with the CTLWSF and encourage cities and utilities to require all new homes and buildings to use conservation landscaping. What have we got to lose?  Our water, our economic future?

Tom Hegemier is the Chair of the Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum, a senior consulting water resources engineer at RPS and a technical advisor for the Hill Country Alliance.

Learn More about the Central Texas Land / Water Sustainability Forum:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Neighbor to Neighbor - News and Events

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    

March 13, 2014

Hill Country News
American Dream and the Economic Myth
Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.

SAWS: Yes to Desal Plant, Maybe to Pipeline
The San Antonio Water System board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund Phase I construction of a brackish water desalination plant in southern Bexar County – the most ambitious water diversification project in the city’s history – and enter negotiations with the Vista Ridge Consortium to provide San Antonio with an even greater supply of new water via a privately-owned regional pipeline, a second diversification project of unprecedented scope and cost. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Registration is open for the Annual Kent Butler Summit
Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region. Join us Friday, April 25th for a day of learning at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. Click here to learn more and register online.

Texas’ Most Endangered Places

Nominations are now being accepted for the Preservation Texas, Most Endangered Place list. Some wonderful places in the Hill Country already grace this list including the Spettel Riverside House in Bandera County, The Old Llano County Jail, Hamilton Pool, Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor and statewide, Texas Dance Halls! The deadline is fast approaching, March 21st, take it upon yourself to nominate an iconic Hill Country treasure. Learn More

‘Art and Conservation’ to feature landowner-artist partnerships to promote Hill Country conservation
Hill Country-area artists and landowners are invited to join together to promote conservation of the region’s natural resources during “Art and Conservation: Our Hidden Treasures,” a collaboration between the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm and the Hill Country Council for the Arts. Learn More

Meet TWDB's new Agricultural and Rural Texas Ombudsman
"The ag ombudsman is helping us spread the word to rural communities about the SWIFT and the benefits it will offer to those communities," says TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "His effort is a critical part of our SWIFT outreach and our outreach on many other programs." Read More

Learn about Fredericksburg SHINES
Promoting Solar, Electric Vehicle charging stations, Zero Waste, Bicycling, Water Efficiency… Fredericksburg SHINES is striving to make Fredericksburg become the most sustainable community in Texas! Read their most recent newsletter and get involved.

Medina Lake Water Well Meeting March 17
The Medina Lake Preservation Society (MLPS) has invited officials from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to speak with LakePlex citizens about drought assistance availability for communities and individual well owners. Details

Symposium Will Explore Issues Facing Iconic Pedernales River, March 20 in Fredericksburg
The first Texas Water Symposium of 2014 will feature a conversation between Hill Country landowners and water experts about the Pedernales River. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, land fragmentation and changing land uses, understanding the impact of land and water management on the health of our rivers and their associated catchment areas is essential. Find out more.

Upcoming Events

March 13 in Fredericksburg - Solarize Gillespie County - Presented by Fredericksburg SHINES - Details
March 17-23 - National Wildlife Week! "Wildlife and Water: From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans" - National Wildlife Week gives families, educators and community groups the chance to connect kids with wildlife and explore the world around them - Details

March 20 in Johnson City - Update on the progress of the Science Mill Opening in November, 2014 - Details
March 20 in Fredericksburg - Texas Water Symposium - "The Pedernales: Challenges and Opportunities Facing an Iconic Hill Country River Basin" - Details
March 20 in Boerne - Hill Country Water: Myths and Truths - Presented by Cow Creek Groundwater District Directors Milan J. Michalec and Bob Webster - Details
March 21-22 in Bandera - First event in the Bandera County Water Awareness Series - Workshop free and open to the public - Details
March 22 in San Antonio - Movie, Kites and Potluck with Greenspaces Alliance - Film: Urban Roots - Details
March 22 in Johnson City - Master Gardeners of Blanco County host Invaders of Texas Workshop - Details
March 26 in Sequin - Agriculture and Rural Development Workshop - Details
March 26-28 in Fort Worth - Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference - Details
March 29-30 in Stonewall - LBJ 100 Cycling Weekend - Details

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dripping Springs proposes wastewater discharges into Onion creek

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014

By Asher Price - American-Statesman Staff
Gearing up for a seemingly ever-increasing population, this once-sleepy outpost west of Austin is plotting an expansion of its sewage treatment plant for as much as $28.6 million, the latest sign of massive growth in northern Hays County.

City officials say the infrastructure move is a responsible one because it would prevent a proliferation of smaller plants in the region, but it has alienated some of their former regional allies in bygone environmental battles.

If an expansion is approved by a state environmental agency, something probably years away, the plant could be the second to have a permit to discharge cleaned-up waste water into a Hill Country creek that eventually feeds the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer.
Nearly a decade ago, Dripping Springs had teamed up with the city of Austin, the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District and other governmental entities to oppose a similar plant proposed — and eventually built — for Belterra, a burgeoning subdivision just east of Dripping Springs. At the time, Dripping Springs had been a key player in a regional planning effort to manage development.

Now it is Dripping Springs that is considering an expanded plant as it both copes with a growing population and positions itself to recruit new businesses.
Dripping Springs has increased from about 1,500 residents in 2000 to nearly 1,900 in 2012, according to census figures. Roughly 30,000 people live in the wider community around the city.

The existing wastewater treatment plant, built to replace antiquated septic systems, has a capacity to treat 127,500 gallons per day and currently treats half that much.

A year ago, the city’s economic development committee, chaired by former state Rep. Patrick Rose, who runs a title company based in Dripping Springs, declared in a letter to the mayor that the lack of capacity undermines the city’s ability to meet the needs of existing residents, manage new growth and to “recruit additional, quality primary employers to our community.”

The city then hired an engineering firm. Using what it says is a moderate projection — an annual growth rate of 8 percent — the firm forecast in a $94,000 report that the plant will reach 90 percent of its capacity by 2017, and that by 2023 it will have to treat 199,615 gallons per day.

The city currently uses treated wastewater to irrigate city-owned land. The engineering firm recommended expanding the plant to a capacity of 750,000 gallons per day. Treated wastewater could be sprayed on city-owned playing fields and land at new subdivisions tying into the plant, but the engineering firm recommended also seeking permission from the state to discharge into Onion Creek. The direct discharge permit would give the plant another option for handling cleaned-up sewer water in case it outstrips the demand to irrigate neighboring lands.

City Council member Bill Foulds said a centralized plant run by the city will cut down the risk from Belterra-like plants scattered around the Hill Country. Providing wastewater services to subdivisions in its suburbs also gives the city some leverage in managing development, such as requiring construction setbacks from area waterways. The new developments would pay for the lion’s share of the plant expansion, which will likely be more modest than the $28.6 million expansion envisioned by the engineering firm, he said.

Under state standards, the effluent should be clean enough to fish or swim in.
Salt Lick restaurant owner Scott Roberts, whose family has owned property fronting Onion Creek since 1902, says he is not concerned about potential treated sewage discharges upriver of him — as long as it is treated properly.

“Right now I’m comfortable with the motivation and intentions of Dripping Springs,” he said. “They’re not out there to create a sea of concrete. They really are committed to making sure development in their jurisdiction takes place conscientiously.”
Austin officials are monitoring the plant expansion prospects.

“It’s great they’re looking forward to plan infrastructure to facilitate growth,” said Chris Herrington, a city of Austin environmental engineer. “But the question is, are they rushing to make decision that would be controversial for a lot of people?”

If the Belterra scenario plays itself out again, downstream cities, residents or environmental groups could contest the discharge permit before it wins approval.
“There’s a huge potential for disastrous water-quality impacts,” Herrington said.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Texas Water Symposium - March 20 in Fredericksburg

Join us
Texas Water Symposium
The Pedernales: Challenges and Opportunities Facing an Iconic River Basin
Thursday, March 20
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm in Fredericksburg

News from The Natural Gardener

Good morning, JWCG gardeners!

In case you're interested, I'm forwarding the Natural Gardener newsletter.  We have a great place here in Wimberley (King Feed) that stocks garden plants, soil amendments, etc for organic gardeners, but if you want to explore even more farther out from our village, I recommend The Natural Gardener in Oak Hill on Old Bee Caves Rd.  You may also subscribe to their newsletter to get the latest info on plants, pests, etc for gardening in our part of central Texas.  In the past they have been very helpful with answering questions.  Also, they hold FREE seminars several times a year, including a very good one titled "Organic Gardening 101", usually offered early spring, to get new and experienced organic gardeners off to a good start.  The forwarded newsletter tells you how to subscribe if interested.


    HAPPY SPRING BREAK AND SXSW! This weekend kicks off a fun time of year in Austin, and it‘s the        
    beginning of the most exciting & most beautiful season at The Natural Gardener. This is the time of year when 
    our world-renowned nursery really shines. Please come see us and bring your friends. Bring your camera, too 
    – Spatz is more handsome than ever these days!
 If the weather’s a little yucky (rain’s predicted, hallelujah) consider coming out anyway. Tomatoes will be on sale, and there’s a whole lot of fun stuff to see, to do, and to buy. (Gorgeous new plants and pottery, especially!) There’s a lot that needs to be done in the garden right now, and just as many things that should wait. Come see us, and we’ll help you navigate this tricky time of year. 

It’s Tomato-planting time! All sizes and varieties are 10% OFF this weekend. We’re sure to have another frost or two, so stop by our Info Desk for planting and weather-proofing tips. See IN THE NURSERY below for a list of varieties.

Starting next Thursday, March 13th, we’ll be staying open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Stop in after work on Thursday, and get a head start on your weekend gardening projects. 

South Austin boasts some great home brews, including ours. We make rich Aerobic Compost Tea that plants love. (You should see ‘em after a couple of gallons of the stuff – watch out!) Our tea is brewed fresh each week, and it’s good for any kind of plant growing in any kind of soil. One gallon costs just $6.50 and will cover 2,500 square feet undiluted, or 5,000 square feet when mixed with one gallon of rain or distilled water. Bring your own clean container with a lid and it’s only $5 per gallon. Our home-brewed Aerobic Compost Tea is available Thursday through Sunday only.

TOMATOES: Store-bought can never compare with the taste of homegrown organic. We have transplants of slicers, cherries, grape and paste tomatoes -- in both heirloom and hybrid varieties. Thousands of plants and no GMO's* ever! *Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms in which the DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. Visit  for more info. This week's tomato varieties include:

Arkansas Traveler
Better Boy
Japanese Black Trifle 
Large Red Cherry
Black Plum
Matt's Wild Cherry
Super Fantastic
Sweet 100
Cherokee Purple
Mortgage Lifter
Sweet Olive
Peacevine Cherry
Gardener's Delight
Green Tiger
Pink Tiger
Health Kick
Pruden's Purple
Yellow Pear
PLANTING TOMATOES? PLANT AN OLLA FIRST: An olla is a long-necked water urn made of very porous, low-fired clay. Ollas were “invented” by ancient dry-land farmers, and – go figure – those potters/farmers really knew what they were doing. Today, ollas are making a comeback in arid regions all over the world. You bury an olla in the ground leaving the opening just above the soil. Plant seeds or starts a few inches away, give your transplants an initial watering with a hose or watering can, and fill the olla, too. Water will slowly seep out into the soil to about the same distance as the radius of the urn. Slow, steady watering is good for all sorts of plants, Tomatoes especially. Tomatoes are tropical plants, and they love the slow, consistent moisture provided by an olla.

TRANSPLANT & BLOOM FERTILIZER – FLOWER POWER 25# BAG:  Flower Power is not just for flowers, it’s perfect for any new planting; vegetables, herbs, even newly-sodded lawns. That’s because the same elements that promote blooming (phosphorus and potassium) also promote healthy root and stem growth. In addition to those elements, there’s also the perfect amount of natural, slow-release nitrogen. It gently feeds emerging leaves, in just the right amount for this time of year. Flower Power is available in a 25 lb. bag that will cover 1,440 square feet. 

TURKEY COMPOST – GARDENER’S GOLD: Vegetables, flowers, and lawns will thrive from a springtime application of Lady Bug brand All American Turkey Compost. Turkey Compost is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, and it provides a gentle, natural feeding to your plants. It helps your soil hold water, too. For new, unplanted gardens or flower beds, add a few inches of Turkey Compost, mix in, and water to settle the soil. Do this a couple of days prior to planting. For existing beds, lay ¼ to ½ inch over the root zone of your plants and water it in. (Be sure that stems and trunks aren’t covered, though. You don’t want anything – compost, soil, or even mulch – resting on the stem of your plants.) If your lawn needs some love this spring, give it a topdressing of ¼ to ½ inch, and water in. Give all your plants some Turkey Compost this spring – you’ll be amazed by the results.

You can get our good, rich composts in several ways: we can deliver to you, we can load compost into your truck or trailer, you can bag-it-yourself, AND it comes pre-bagged. To determine how much compost you need, use the handy Cubic Yard Calculator  on our website.

For more information on our products and services, visit

GARDENING NATURALLY ON KLBJ RADIO: John Dromgoole has been hosting his  “Gardening Naturally” call-in radio show for over 33 years on KLBJ 590AM Austin. Gardening Naturally airs 9-11am Saturdays, and 8-10am on Sundays. Every Saturday and Sunday, you have a chance to ask John, and his expert guests your gardening questions live on the air. Call in locally at 512-836-0590, or toll free at 877-590-KLBJ (5525). You can also listen to Gardening Naturally online at 
CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENER & KXAN FIRSTCAST: Saturday mornings on KXAN News 36 Firstcast- around 7:20- John gives gardeners a little seasonal advice. Tune into KLRU for “Central Texas Gardener” where John co-hosts the “Backyard Basics” segment. “Central Texas Gardener” is aired on Saturdays at noon and 4:00 p.m., and repeats at 9 a.m. on Sundays. “Central Texas Gardener” is now available on five Texas public television stations, and can be viewed online. For more information go to

KDRP SOLAR-POWERED RADIO: “Dance Halls and Last Calls” is John Dromgoole’s old style country and western music show. John hosts his show on Wednesdays from 8-9pm, and the show repeats on Sundays from 1-2pm. Tune in to KDRP (Texas’ only solar-powered radio station) at 100.1 FM Austin or 103.1 Dripping Springs. You can also listen online @ Tune in! 
See you in the garden...
8648 Old Bee Caves Road
Austin, Texas 78735

BUSINESS HOURS (hours change seasonally*)
Monday through Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

*Beginning March 13, we’ll be open ‘til 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

Have a comment or concern? We want to hear it! Please email us at

Copyright 2013 The Natural Gardener
8648 Old Bee Caves Road • Austin, Texas 78735
Phone: 512.288.6113 • Fax: 512.288.6114