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.


Angela Richter, Executive Director
Save Barton Creek Association


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.


 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


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!

SBCA Receives $48,800 TPWD Grant

On May 2nd, SBCA received a $48,800 CO-OP grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to work with long-time partner Texas River School on a program to serve over 250 underserved children and youth. The program, H2O Above and Below, will take students from canoeing on the Colorado River to snorkeling at Barton Springs and taking underwater photographs in Barton Creek.


Over the course of the summer, SBCA will be working with Texas River School staff and volunteers to lead students on 24 trips: 16 half-day and 8 full-day excursions. In the River Sense class, students will learn basic water safety from a trained guide, then will embark on canoes on the Colorado River. In the Discover the Source class, students will visit the Splash! Exhibit and snorkel in Barton Springs Pool (the most daring will dive down to “discover” the springs that feed the pool).  In the Find and Capture class, students will learn the basics of compass orienteering, then kayak on Barton Creek with digital underwater cameras and a photo-scavenger hunt list.

We will be looking for volunteers for these trips! To sign up for volunteer alerts, register for our e-newsletter.

Thank you to our partners at Texas River School, Rowing Dock, Texas Rowing Center, City of Austin Watershed Protection, photographer Anthony Maddaloni, and Foundation Communities.

SBCA Annual Awards Dinner November 23

We’re celebrating another year of protecting Barton Creek, Barton Springs, and the Edwards Aquifer and want to share the evening with you!

This year, we recognize another group of environmentalists, activists, policymakers, and partners for their work in service of our mission to protect our natural resources.

Live music by Bill Oliver, local beer from Hops and Grain Brewery, and a traditional smoked turkey Thanksgiving buffet from our friends at the Salt Lick are sure to round out a perfect fall evening.  Our silent auction theme is “Local Favorites” and will feature gift cards, tours, and products from some of our favorite local businesses.

$20 suggested donation at the door for non-members.

Join us today!

Upcoming Events – Spring 2015

Spring has sprung, and with it comes wildflowers and great events all around Austin!

We hope to see you on Saturday, April 18th from noon to 6pm  at Austin Earth Day, held at the historic Browning Hangar at Mueller. Save Barton Creek Association is a proud sponsor and will be providing educational literature and crafts for kids at our booth.

On April 25th at 9am, meet us at the South Steps of the Capitol downtown for a Children’s Climate March, organized by Girl Scout Troop 471. Decorate wagons, make signs, and come see Santa Claus!

After the march on Saturday, April 25th is a great day to visit SBCA and partner Karen Kocher at the Splash! Exhibit at Barton Springs Pool. We’ll be celebrating Karen’s Living Springs Project from noon to 2:30 and releasing a new installment of the video at 1pm.

Save Barton Creek is proud to sponsor Bill Oliver’s Mother Earth Day on May 9th at Zilker Park from 9am-1pm. This annual and all-solar powered event brings families to the Springs to learn about our delicate ecosystem through puppet shows, games, and interactive workshops.

We’d also like to remind you to continue to show your support for EarthShare of Texas at H-E-B for the rest of April and first two months of May. Every time you shop, look for the EarthShare of Texas tearpads at the registers and support Save Barton Creek and over 30 other nonprofit organizations.

Happy Earth Month from your friends at Save Barton Creek! Visit our Facebook and follow us on Instagram for photos, updates, and more.

35th Anniversary Photos

THANK YOU to everyone who helped us celebrate 35 YEARS of preservation at the Zilker Clubhouse for the Annual Membership & Awards Banquet! If you would like to see photos from the event, please visit our facebook photo album.