Just as surface water and groundwater are interconnected, so are issues of water quantity and water quality. Recognizing and educating others about their interdependence is imperative to protecting our water resources in the Hill Country and across the state.

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Water Quantity, Water Quality, and Groundwater Pumping

While surface water quality generally improves with moderate water quantity increases as pollutants become more diluted in creeks and rivers, decreased water quantity negatively impacts water quality often concentrating pollutants and lowering dissolved oxygen. Higher concentrations of nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorous can also lead to algae blooms. These conditions make it harder for aquatic life to thrive, and a loss of biodiversity in such ecosystems can further degrade water quality. That's why it's important to conserve water not just so that we have the quantity we need for human consumption, wildlife, agriculture, and industry but also to protect the quality of our water resources. Large-scale pumping projects like the one proposed by EP threaten both water quantity and water quality, because sufficient groundwater is necessary to ensure surface water flows especially in a landscape–like the Texas Hill Country–with a high degree of surface and groundwater interaction.

Our Water Rights Alliance Takes EP Concerns to BSEACD

On July 12, a group of citizens and scientists associated with Our Water Rights Alliance presented over 3,200 signatures to the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Board and also made public comments on EP permit. Past BSEACD Board President Dr. Patrick Cox offered recommendations including a sustainable yield study and water quality impact analysis. He also reminded the Board of their duty to protect the groundwater property rights of landowners as well as non-exempt permittees. Chris Elliot, whose family lives within the 1-mile impact zone, shared some of his well water with the Board and pointed out that water quality must also be included in the permit's curtailment triggers per the District's rules. Retired Civil Engineering Professor and Consultant Marshall Jennings stressed the hydrogeological complexity of the karst aquifer system.

Drawing on 4 decades of public and professional involvement in Hays County water issues, Joe Day argued that the entire well field should be included in the Priority Groundwater Management Area only allowed to pump a volume in line with the six-acre minimum lot size the County requires within the PGMA, pointing out that the District's rules give them the authority to do so. He emphasized his point that the groundwater must be tied to the land in this way. Finally, WVWA's own Ashley Waymouth estimated that the requested amount of 2.5 MGD would be like pumping 4 olympic size swimming pools each day from the aquifer and could permanently stop the flow of Jacob's Well and Cypress Creek within this generation. All the speakers urged more caution, more time to conduct necessary science and gather more data. We hope BSEACD carefully considers all of these factors as the contested case unfolds. The Board will now work with EP and the SOAH judge to set the process for the Contested Case. Thanks to all who provided comments and petition signatures!

If you haven't done so yet, please sign the petition and share it widely. You can also watch a video of the public comments here.

WVWA Participates in National Water Summit

This month, WVWA Executive Director David Baker attended the 2018 One Water Summit as part of the Austin Delegation in the Twin Cities. The Summit brings together conservationists, government employees, elected officials, and industry members to discuss the best ideas and strategies to advance One Water management, as well as the skills and tools for successful implementation. One Water is an integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability, meeting both community and ecosystem needs. Themes include community resilience, competitive business, sustainable agriculture, social and economic equity, and approaches to protecting water quantity and quality. The delegation had many fruitful discussions and learned about cutting edge skills and strategies necessary for One Water implementation. We look forward to participating in the 2019 One Water Summit when it comes to Austin next September.

The US Water Alliance has created a roadmap as a guide for tackling our most pressing water challenges: "This report makes a compelling case for the One Water approach—we highlight successful strategies and powerful real-world examples of One Water management in practice. The roadmap highlights the bold approaches that water utilities, businesses, agricultural groups, and municipalities, are implementing to build a secure water future for all. The roadmap is organized around six arenas for action where we are making progress: Reliable and Resilient Utilities, Thriving Cities, Competitive Business and Industry, Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Social and Economic Inclusion, and Healthy Waterways."

You can also read the Mitchell foundation report on Advancing One Water in Texas.

El Ranchito Traveling Campers Visit WVWA & Jacob's Well

El Ranchito’s traveling camp, the Gulf Coast Expedition has added a NEW segment this year: Barton Creek Expedition, which included a day trip to WVWA Headquarters and Jacob's Well just last week. The 10 participants are college age, 18–22 years old, who are graduates of El Ranchito Conservation Corps. David Baker gave them a presentation on the hydrogeology and history of Jacob’s Well, the threats facing springs and creeks in the Hill Country, and the work that WVWA does to protect water and land resources around Jacob's Well and across the region.

El Ranchito summer camp began in 2007 as a collaboration between Shield Ranch, El Buen Samaritano and Westcave Outdoor Learning Center. Their programs provide outdoor experiential learning for children and youth from low-income families. We relish such opportunities to help educate new generations as environmental stewards!

No Dripping Sewage Update: Settlement & Continued Push for Ban

By now you may have heard that Save Barton Creek Association, local landowners, and aquifer conservation districts have entered into a settlement agreement over Dripping Springs’ direct discharge wastewater permit. This agreement allows NO DIRECT DISCHARGE of wastewater into Onion Creek for the immediate future and establishes a utility (wastewater) commission to help Dripping Springs meet their goal of 100% wastewater re-use. The fight for clear waterways and NO DRIPPING SEWAGE is not over. We need your help to make this agreement succeed for the intended goal of no discharge, and to stop sewage stream discharges across the Hill Country.

Please stay tuned for ways you can continue to support the campaign. For now, please share the petition email with your friends, and like us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Surface-Groundwater Coordination

Even though surface and groundwater are actually both part of the same water at different points in the water cycle, the Texas law views them separately making effective management and conservation difficult and unwieldy. Click the image to the left to hear some of the state's top water experts discuss why this approach needs to change.

New and Improved Hays County Master Naturalist Site

A new website, beautifulhayscounty.org, is now available for Hays Country residents who want to find out more about the natural environment of the Texas hill country. It was created by The Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist™ program.

“The site is a valuable source of information for everyone interested in nature, conservation, and the environment in Hays County and central Texas,” says Anne Child, president of Hays County Master Master Naturalists. “Parents and educators will find the site is a great way to introduce children to these concepts, and, if you have questions, you can find answers from a network of knowledgable sources by submitting queries to the site’s ‘Ask an Expert’ feature.”

There are many informative articles covering the general topics of water, plants and landscapes, wildlife and insects, as well as conservation and restoration. There are several articles on each topic and each is filled with practical information to help make informed decisions. “An additional ‘Wildlife Resources’ page provides many useful links to our partner organizations,” says Child, “including information for visitors to Hays County, reading recommendations, and links to many great and useful smartphone apps.”

The website also provides an event list, regularly updated posts, and an array of unique and colorful photographs of local wildlife, plants, and landscapes. “Sharing the wonder and beauty of Hays County,” says Child, “aligns perfectly with  the mission of Texas Master Naturalists to ' provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within our community.”

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Wimberley Valley Watershed Association
PO Box 2534
Wimberley, Texas 78676

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