Uncategorized

Endangered Salamanders Under Attack 

Despite The City of Austin issuing a resolution that opposes the Permian Highway Pipeline, and other resolutions opposing the project from many other towns and entities, a state district court judge dismissed all claims made against the pipeline. The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, a 430-mile natural gas pipeline, will pass through two highly sensitive karst areas in Hays County, home to several species of threatened and endangered Eurycea salamanders. Not only will the pipeline disturb and alter wildlife habitats, but there is a high chance of natural gas spills and leaks.

A new report indicates contaminants from the pipeline will spread to connected waterways and reach Pleasant Valley Spring, Jacob’s Well Spring, San Marcos Springs, and Barton Springs as well as impact the health and habitats of seven federally protected species.

Any leaks of natural gas will seep into caves and groundwater and persist for decades. Natural gas consists of several harmful compounds that are known to have detrimental effects on wildlife, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs can increase the likelihood of cancers and inhibit stages of growth, development, and reproduction in amphibians, such as salamanders.

Even the food supply for salamanders will experience adverse effects from natural gas spills since PAHs are known to shorten life spans, alter brain functioning, and inhibit reproduction in smaller aquatic species.  To protect threatened and endangered salamanders as well as other aquatic species, please sign the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association petition to stop the Permian Highway Pipeline!

Hays County Sues Kinder Morgan

On Apr. 22, Hays County and the City of Kyle joined a lawsuit with 20 landowners and city leaders against the natural gas pipeline set to run through Central Texas. The suit aims to stop construction until the Texas Railroad Commission acquires management of the proposed route.

Since last year, dozens of cities, counties, and districts have sued against the development due to violations concerning the Texas Constitution. In addition, city leaders like Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell, estimate more than 1,000 landowners will be affected by the Permian Highway Pipeline.

The pipeline’s construction will begin this Fall, however, the lawsuit could take months or years to arrange.

Learn more here.

Texas Water Symposium – Legislature Edition

Texas Water Symposium – Hill Country Representatives Speak

On Thursday, March 28 state representatives from the Hill Country will engage in a conversation and public question and answer session to discuss bills that address flooding, treated effluent discharges, water well protection, growth, and support of sound science oriented natural resource policy.

The program, titled Water and the 2019 Legislative Session: The Outlook for Hill Country Water Resources, will be held at 7 pm at the Texas Capitol Extension room E1.014 in Austin, Texas.

Panel members will include:

  • Representative Kyle Biedermann – District 73; Comal, Kendall, & Gillespie Counties
  • Representative Vikki Goodwin – District 47; Western Travis County
  • Representative Andrew Murr – District 53; Western Hill Country Counties
  • Representative Erin Zwiener – District 45; Hays and Blanco Counties

LEGAL QUESTIONS ARISE ABOUT OAK HILL PARKWAY

BREAKING- Yesterday, SBCA received a memo from our lawyer on the Oak Hill Parkway stating that he “Found significant areas of concern regarding how this NEPA process proceeded and the results thereof.”

Read the Memo Here

Water Forward Plan Goes to Council

On Thursday, November 29th, the Water Forward Plan, Austin’s Water Supply Plan for the next 100 years goes to City Council for a vote. See SBCA’s letter to City Council below about the content of the plan.

 

November 27, 2018

Re: Water Forward Plan

To: Mayor Adler and Austin City Council

Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) appreciates the work that went into the Water Forward Plan and is supportive of the direction the plan. We support the plan’s tenets of diversifying water supply without water importation, reducing water demand, and meeting non-potable water needs with new decentralized sources of non-potable water. We hope that the plan is adopted, but also hope that the following amendments can be made to the plan before adoption.

While some of these points may seem minor, they could have a significant impact on the policies that come from the plan’s implementation.

We recommend that:

1) Ordinance strategies including “Alternative Water Ordinance,” “Duel Plumbing Ordinance,” and “Lot Scale Wastewater Reuse” be extended to entire master planned developments including PUDs and other special districts. We should not only be using building size as a threshold for these development requirements, but also communities, because these strategies can often work well within a district and because implementation of these policies in large buildings and districts will capture more development while minimizing the impact on affordability.

2) Bring the landscape transformation ordinance into the 5 year timeline and include commercial landscapes in the ordinance scope. Changing the development regulations around landscapes to reduce water use is a low-hanging fruit that other cities are doing now. Currently, Austin requires commercial landscapes have a permanent irrigation system in most cases. Our code requirements on commercial landscapes should be re-evaluated at the same time residential landscape regulations are considered.

3) As part of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery(ASR) Feasibility Study process, include a comprehensive study of potential ASR locations that looks within and without Austin Water’s service area with the goal of identifying the closest feasible ASR location. SBCA is supportive of ASR as a water supply strategy for Austin and understands that the Carrizo-Wilcox has been identified as a likely location in the Water Forward Plan. We want to ensure due diligence in determining if there is an environmentally superior option to the Carizzo-Wilcox that requires less length of pipe and consequently energy and carbon footprint to transport water over distance.

4) Alternative Water ordinances should be applicable to all buildings and developments of a certain threshold without exception. Please remove references to an “either-or” dynamic between on-site collection of alternative water and use of the City’s purple-pipe. There is an existing exemption to city’s air-conditioning(AC) condensate policy that does not insist buildings adjacent to the Utility’s purple-pipe system collect AC condensate. We’d like to see this exception removed and certainly not replicated for the other alternative water ordinances. There will still be uses for the city’s purple pipe water, especially for industry, parks, and campuses. Additional non-potable capacity (in purple pipe or harvested from a building or development) could be used in neighboring developments, potentially as part of an incentive program.

5) All ordinances that include requirements for new development should undertaken in the next 5 years. They should also be considered together through a coordinated stakeholder process in order to prevent potential confusion, conflicting policies, or unintended consequences.

6) We support the plan’s recommendation to continue the Water Forward Task Force. The role of the Taskforce should include oversight over implementation of the plan including future public processes, the creation of performance measures for the plan and Austin Water (for example, utility-side water loss control), and any subsequent reevaluation of the “living” plan.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Angela Richter

Executive Director

Save Barton Creek Association

Oak Hill Parkway Presents Danger to Aquifer, Creek, and Springs

 

The Oak Hill Parkway project, centered on highways 290 and 71 at the Y, presents serious concerns for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer. SBCA has been busy elevating this issue by presenting this letter to Austin City Council and communicating with numerous other entities about the project. We aim to get the project changed in ways that minimize the environmental harm.

The current proposal is an overbuilt project that proposes 74 acres of new impervious cover in the recharge and contributing zones of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer, and runs alongside (and impacts) Williamson Creek. Furthermore, the project proposes 2.65 miles or 1,968,000 cu yards of excavation over and adjacent to environmentally sensitive features. It would also take trees and mature riparian habitats.

For more on Save Barton Creek Association’s concerns and proposed changes to the project, see our letter. 

There is still time for multiple entities to work together to improve this project.

Come learn more at our Creek Crew Happy Hour on November 12th at 6:30 pm at Baker Street Pub. 

 

 

SBCA Submits Comments To BSEACD On Electro Purifcation

June 25, 2018

 

Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District
Board of Directors
1124 Regal Row
Austin, Texas 78748
e-mail: bseacd@bseacd.org

 

RE: Public Comments for Electro Purification LLC Production Permit in Middle Trinity Management Zone

 

Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Board of Directors,

 

Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) appreciate the critical work that the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District(BSEACD) Board and staff perform to protect the Trinity Aquifer and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer. Save Barton Creek Association has been protecting Central Texas waterways since 1979 and we have significant concern about Electro Purification LLC (EP)’s permit application to pump 2.5 million gallons of groundwater per day from the Trinity Aquifer’s Cow Creek formation in Hays County.

We are concerned about the effects of EP’s proposed permit on springs, groundwater, surface water, and local wells. We believe that the district should issue EP a permit for a significantly reduced amount, so that science can examine the effect on the environment and local wells, before considering larger permit amounts.

Please also consider adding the supplemental measures below to preserve the high-quality and quantity of the Trinity, the Edwards, and their surface flow interactions, and to protect the historic property rights of existing well owners.

1. Perform water quality testing of springs and seeps that contribute to surface water flows in addition to the annual water quality sampling and analysis of wells in the immediate area of the applicant’s well field. This will require an increase the “water quality sampling fund” from $1,500 to a much more significant amount.

2. Protect surface water supply by implementing strict spring water quality and flow guidelines to protect downstream users, wildlife, and Edwards Aquifer recharge. Those guidelines may be attached to the creation and implementation of a Management Zone for Cow Creek or Lower Glen Rose Springs and a Lone Man Creek Management Zone.

3. Give well owners and the BSEACD Board the opportunity to provide input between phases of production increases. We are glad to see a phased production approach but recommend that there be an opportunity for a public hearing and comment between phases and that decisions regarding phased production changes be subject to the approval of the District’s elected Board of Directors.

4. Improve protections for well owners and future well owners by:

a. Make the “mitigation fund” (Section 9) available for all well failure oriented financial burdens incurred by harmed well owners due to the applicant’s pumping activities. These should include the cost of supplemental water supply and delivery in the event of water quality degradation, well or pump failure, or the additional electrical cost to pump water from greater depth. Potable rainwater harvesting systems should be an alternate financial mitigation option for those that would prefer this to damaged well remediation.

b. Increase the $50,000 “Financial Commitment for Mitigation Actions” to a dollar amount that reflects the actual financial burdens associated with the cost of reworking multiple wells.

c. Reduce Section 7’s Impact Determination Timing of Damaged Wells from 30 days to a 7day maximum period for impact determination. Well owners in many cases have immediate domestic water needs that cannot wait for a 30 day determination.

d. Provide financial protections for future well owners by altering Section 9’s Financial Commitment for Mitigation Actions clause to provide for takings compensation provisions for property owners who are unable to produce water in the future because the applicant’s production has damaged the aquifer’s ability to produce water. The Supreme Court of Texas (Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day and Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Bragg) has explicitly stated that groundwater is a vested private property right in place, subject to governmental taking.

 

We ask that the BSEACD make the changes above to protect many water users, creatures, and aquatic systems over the financial interest of one company. We highly recommend that the District issue EP a permit for a significantly reduced amount. It is critical that there is an opportunity for scientific studies of the effects on the environment and local wells and that there are opportunities for affected people to take recourse before the District considers larger permit amounts.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Angela Richter, Executive Director
Save Barton Creek Association
512-480-0055
angela@savebartoncreek.org

TWO AQUIFER DISTRICTS JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST DRIPPING SPRINGS WASTEWATER

May 28, 2018

(AUSTIN) – A preliminary hearing was held last week by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), resulting in the addition of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to the battle against the contested Dripping Springs wastewater permit.  These two districts now join Save Barton Creek Association, Save Our Springs, Protect Our Water, and some Dripping Springs landowners as participants in the case against the City Of Dripping Springs. The city wishes to obtain a permit for dumping up to 995,000 gallons per day of treated sewage into pristine Onion Creek, in the Texas hill country.

The addition of the two groundwater conservation districts to the case confirms that the underground water bodies they manage would be negatively impacted by the proposed Dripping Springs wastewater permit.  An Onion Creek dye study recently completed by BSEACD showed conclusively that what goes into Onion Creek winds up in the local groundwater, with eight different wells showing presence of dye that was added to Onion Creek.  This hydrologic communication between Onion Creek and local groundwater, coupled with the fact that Onion Creek recharges 30% of Barton Springs, sits at the heart of the case against direct wastewater discharge in the Texas hill country.  Despite the Barton Springs connection, the City of Austin was denied standing in the case.

A final hearing is expected to be held within the next six months.  Based on this final hearing, TCEQ can then either grant or deny the permit, or change its terms.

“BARTON SPRINGS ETERNAL” MUSIC VIDEO REMASTERED

 Exhumed from the archives!  We’re happy to present this epic legendary all-star recording of Austin’s music community coming together to sing the praises of The Soul of Austin, remastered from the original 1992 tapes.

 

As you watch, check out those SBCA banners and vintage tees! Thanks to Bill Oliver and all the artists, “Barton Springs Eternal” is now available for download for as little as a dollar. Proceeds go to Save Barton Creek Association and Save Our Springs Alliance.

 

Below, check out the original all-star video recording of the studio session, followed by “I Sung for the Springs” video by Jenny Clark about the making of the music video. These videos were made possible by the generosity of Jenny Clark.

 

The videos feature the talents of Bill Oliver, Bob Livingston, Jerry Jeff Walker, Marcia Ball,  Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Ponty Bone, Paul Pearcy, Steven Fromholz, Joe Ely, John Inmon, David Halley, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, Doug Powell, Bobby Bridger, Tomas Ramirez, Riley Osbourn, and Mitch Watkins.

 

Original video recording of the studio session

 

Making of the music video

#NoDrippingSewage

The No Dripping Sewage Campaign is the combined effort of a number of nonprofit organizations and citizens interested in a less polluting future for the Edwards Aquifer and Texas Hill Country. We educate about the problems associated with direct discharge and the benefits of more sustainable alternatives.

We support a ban on dumping treated sewage into creeks above the Edwards Aquifer in favor of safer alternatives.

We also call on public officials and candidates to stand with us against direct discharge.

Dumping sewage effluent into creeks poses serious risks to our wells, aquifers, springs, and streams—threatening human health, property values, wildlife, and our Hill Country’s economic future. Alternatives such as land application, beneficial reuse, and newer decentralized technologies can allow growth without threatening our water supply.

Cities have grown without direct discharge – for example, the highland lakes communities of Lakeway and Marble Falls near Austin.

The proposed Dripping Springs permit to discharge nearly a million gallons of sewage effluent per day into Onion Creek would set a dangerous precedent. Other communities are likely to follow suit, endangering the entire Edwards Aquifer.

The #NoDrippingSewage Campaign is a community effort to save our Hill Country waterways and advocate for alternatives to direct discharge. Join us!