Thursday, April 24, 2014

HCA Press Release - CASE CLOSED: Disappointment for Hill Country Aquifer Protection

Contact:                                                                                                     For Immediate Release
Christy Muse, Executive Director
Hill Country Alliance

CASE CLOSED:  Disappointment for Hill Country Aquifer Protection

(April 23, 2014) - The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently halted a process that could have created groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) in some of the fasted growing areas of the Hill Country. TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde successfully petitioned the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) with a motion to dismiss the case that had been underway since 2010 to create GCDs in Western Travis and Western Comal counties. The request was granted January 27, 2014, and the case is now closed.

It was not clear why the leadership of TCEQ brought forth a motion to dismiss the ongoing case and process for putting GCDs in place. Many of those involved in the proceedings expressed surprise by the abrupt decision. “The completion of this process appears to be caught in an endless political loop,” said longtime observer and former Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber.

Back in 1990 the Hill Country area was studied by the Texas Water Commission. A determination was made that the area was already experiencing and likely to experience more “critical groundwater problems” in the next 20 years. The report concluded that groundwater demand would exceed availability and that groundwater conservation districts should be created throughout the “Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area” to locally manage the resource.

In the summer of 2010, TCEQ recommended the creation of a multi-county groundwater conservation district covering western portions of Hays, Comal and Travis Counties to provide effective management of the Trinity Aquifer. The area described is outlined in red on the attached map below. At that time the commissioner’s courts for all three counties passed resolutions of support for the regional district. In 2011, the board of the Hays Trinity GCD in western Hays County responded with a resolution firmly opposing the idea.

Thus, TCEQ revised this recommendation to suggest the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District annex Western Travis and the Trinity Glen Rose District annex Western Comal. Then, in January of 2014, TCEQ recommended dismissal of the process altogether.

As background, it is important to note that the Trinity Aquifer is the major source of well water west of I-35 covering all or portions of Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Comal, Hays, Travis, and Bexar Counties. Nine GCDs have been established by willing landowners, voting citizens and local governments in most of these counties. Western Comal and Southwestern Travis Counties are seeing explosive population growth, widespread development, and increasing demand on groundwater resources; yet they are the only remaining areas in the Hill Country not managing their water resources through a GCD.

Ron Fieseler, General Manager of the Blanco-Pedernales GCD has been looking forward to seeing southwestern Travis County and western Comal County become part of the GCD community for years. “These counties are technically part of the Hill Country Groundwater Management Area 9, where GCDs work across boundaries to coordinate and plan jointly. But because GCDs don’t exist in Travis and Comal counties, they are not at the table. It is disappointing that these areas still do not have groundwater governance, despite many years of effort to overcome either real or imagined problems,” stated Fieseler.

Groundwater is strongly protected as a private-property right under the Texas water code’s Rule of Capture, or the “law of the biggest pump.”  Regulation through GCDs with locally elected boards is currently the only option in Texas for landowners to protect their water from a neighbor’s bigger pump. GCDs issue permits for large volume producing wells, also known as non-exempt wells. GCDs also implement drought management plans, monitor the aquifer levels, study the science of their aquifer, and deliver public education about groundwater and water conservation. Individual household wells are generally exempt.

Unfortunately most GCDs have been formed along county lines and county lines are political boundaries rather than natural boundaries. Underground water flows freely from county to county and it is impossible to effectively manage groundwater without addressing this issue. Managing water resources within natural systems such as aquifers and watersheds is a step in the right direction for the Hill Country. The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) recommends a regional, three county GCD as the most science based, and economically stable option.  

The lack of GCD governance in a fast growing region could have detrimental impacts to neighboring regions whose groundwater is managed by a GCD. Without GCD management, the future of plentiful groundwater and a healthy aquifer in southwest Travis and western Comal counties is in jeopardy. But for now, it appears that TCEQ has abdicated the issue to the 2015 legislature. Stay tuned.

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. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Webinar Invitation: Join us for "Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers"

Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers

Join us for a Webinar on April 30

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

"Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries.

Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Without affirmative strategies to protect flows, the natural heritage embodied in Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries is at risk.

The first webinar will provide an international perspective from Brian Richter on the state of rivers and what is being done to protect and/or restore these vital resources.  Texas water policy experts Myron Hess and Andy Sansom will highlight why this issue is important in Texas, what is at stake, and what types of approaches might be taken to keep Texas rivers flowing all the water to the coast.  

Myron Hess, National Wildlife Federation
Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy
Andy Sansom, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

This webinar series is presented by the Sierra Club - Lone Star Chapter, National Wildlife Federation and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
Title: Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers
Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Friday, April 11, 2014

Invitation to the Texas Desal 2014 Best Practices & Emerging Technology

SAVE THE DATE. Or better yet, register now!

Please join us for the 2nd annual Texas Desalination Association conference as we continue to move desal forward as a water supply solution for today -- and for the future of Texas.

WHEN: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - Friday, September 12, 2014
WHERE: Hilton Austin Airport
WHAT: View Event Summary
HOW MUCH: View Event Fees
BE A SPONSOR: View Sponsor Info or Contact WaterPR.

Please respond by clicking one of the options below:
Texas Desal 2014 is an annual conference event of the
Texas Desalination Association.
Produced by WaterPR
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It's not too late to help GEAA make our match

Dear GEAA members and friends,

Thank you so much to those of you who have responded so generously to this year’s membership renewal.  As of today, we are $7,500 short of realizing the full matching funds offered by the S/M Hixon Family Foundation.  If you have yet to renew your membership, please do so today.  All donations will be matched, and donations of $200 or more will be matched 2:1.  What a deal!  You can donate on-line here, or send your donation to GEAA at PO Box 15618, San Antonio, Texas 78212.

Here are a couple of items that you might find interesting:

The Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy wants your congregation to join Water Leadership for Texas: Be a Water Captain! 
Water Captains are local members of the faith community who partner with state and local leaders to make sure the Texas water planning process works for everyone. Register to attend the Water Captains Leadership Conference in Austin June 29-30, 2014 - Join Water Captains from around the state to learn about water planning from state leaders and water experts. Local Presentations - Host presentations for your congregation or group by Water Captains staff members Regional Workshops - Attend a one-day intensive on water issues in your area and meet local water leaders Citizen's Guide - Serve on a team from your region and help "write the book" on water planning for the rest of us!  Read more here.
And, if you are concerned about how Proposition 6/SWIFT Funds are to be allocated, consider attending the TWDB Board meetings to be held April 17 in Austin at the Texas State Capitol
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will hold two Board meetings to discuss innovative water solutions for Texas and financial assistance for water projects.  The two meetings will be held in Austin at the Texas State Capitol Building, 1100 Congress Avenue, Room E2.030, on April 17, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  
The morning session will include presentations and discussions from external experts on innovative water solutions to conserve and manage existing water supplies in Texas, as well as ideas on developing new supplies for Texas.
The TWDB afternoon agenda will include consideration of financial assistance for water projects around Texas, as well as briefings and discussions on SWIFT rule development and drought conditions.
The public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend and provide public comment at both meetings.
Hope you are enjoying this lovely spring day.
Annalisa Peace, Executive Director, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
You can always keep up with interesting water news on GEAA's Face Book page
and, you can mail contributions to support GEAA to PO Box 15618, San Antonio, Texas 78212

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4/12 One Village Service Day: Bouldin Creek Cleanup

amala foundation
April One Village Service Day

When: Saturday, April 12, 11am-3pm
Where: Meet in park across from the Amala Foundation 1006 S. 8th St. Austin, TX 78704 
Dear Community – yGYPSouth, parents, friends, and volunteers,

For our next Service Day, One Village will be turning it's attention to serving the Amala Foundation's backyard.  One Village will be partnering with the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, and Keep Austin Beautiful to help clean up Bouldin Creek.
If you are able to join us, please RSVP on our Facebook event page.  

Here is our schedule for the day:
  • 11am: Meet in the park across from Amala**
  • 11:15-12:30pm: Bouldin Creek Cleanup
  • 12:30pm: Walk to Butler Park
  • 1-2:30pm: Lunch and Village Talking Circle
  • 3pm: End of the day in park across from Amala.
**Please note: the Amala Foundation will be closed for a wedding.

This is a community event.  All are welcome.  Please feel free to bring friends and family.
Youth Transportation:
  • We are in need of volunteers willing to help transport youth from their homes to the Service Day.
  • If you are able to support One Village in this way, please email
If you have any other questions, please contact EvaClaire at, and (512)565-6187.

We hope to see you there!

With Gratitude,
Amala Foundation
*As a reminder, Gmail users, you may need to "drag" our emails from your Promotions folder and "drop" them into your Primary folder so you ensure you receive them.

1006 S. 8th Street
Austin, TX 78704
We will never share, rent or sell your personal information to third parties.
Please add to your address book to ensure future email deliveries.

Amala Foundation: 1006 South 8th Street, Austin, Texas 78704

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop - begins April 28th

Do you want to create meaningful experiences and memories that last a lifetime?

The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) and Travis Audubon are offering an Interpretation class that will help
you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of

The more hearts we touch, the more minds we inspire,
the better the future for our Hill Country.

Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop #4
 Monday and Tuesday, April 28 & 29, 2014 and 
Monday and Tuesday, May 5 & 6, 2014
at a Private ranch near Austin, TX
Download Flyer

Hill Country Alliance, in partnership with the National Association for
(NAI), is offering a course for anyone who delivers messages about natural,
cultural or historic sites or who would generally like to more effectively connect with
audiences of any size about the importance of protecting the Hill Country.

This 32-hour class will teach you to:
- Emotionally connect the audience with the presentation topic.
- Use recent research on social behavior and learning.
- Tailor programs for diverse audiences and various learning styles.
- Improve communication and presentation skills.
- Design and practice a full presentation by the end of the course.

Clark Hancock, Certified Interpretive Trainer: or call (512) 507-1627.

Course only: $245 or Course with NAI Certification: $375
Fees include materials

Scholarships may be considered on request. This is a small class, only 12 seats
are available. Please email for more information
and to begin registration.