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Heading to a Conclusion? Or Heading Back to Court?

The Executive Administrator of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has made a final recommendation regarding the long-boiling dispute between two Texas regional water planning groups over the proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir in Northeast Texas. TWDB’s three-member governing Board (also known at the Texas Water Development Board since we Texans like to keep people confused) will probably take action on the Executive Administrator’s recommendation at its August 7 meeting in Austin. But does that mean the controversy will be “resolved?”  More likely it means that the dispute will be headed back to the state courts. The Region C Water Planning Group, one of 16 such planning groups in the state, is responsible for developing...

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Keeping Rivers Flowing in Texas

Summer is coming and that means beating the heat by spending time at the river. For my family, that means swimming in the Pedernales, fishing along the Colorado, and tubing in the San Marcos. Rivers play an important role in the lives of Texans all over the state. Rivers connect communities, provide vital fish and wildlife habitat and supply essential freshwater to feed the nursery areas in our bays and estuaries along the Texas coast. Unfortunately, as important as Texas rivers are, we cannot always assume that the water our natural systems need will be there. It takes proactive management, thoughtful policy-making and the hard work of people, governments and organizations that care about...

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Celebrate Earth Day! Join the conversation about Keeping Rivers Flowing

What makes our planet Earth what it is? Water, of course! Why not top off your Earth Day festivities by reserving your spot to participate in the conversation about how to Keep Rivers Flowing? Sign up now to join us from 2:00-3:00 pm CDT on April 30th for the first webinar installment in a FREE three-part series. "Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers" and the rest of the webinar series are 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...

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Texas City Y Oil Spill – A reminder of bay ecosystem vulnerability

On March 22, 2014 near the Texas City Dike in Galveston Bay, a cargo ship, the Summer Wind, collided with a barge towed by the Miss Susan releasing 168,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil. The spill occurred at the point where ships can turn west to enter the Port of Texas City or continue through the Ship Channel, thus named the Texas City “Y” Oil Spill. Although the cleanup response to the spill was quick, the spill came with poor timing and the potential for devastating effects to the health of Galveston Bay. Every spring, tens of thousands of shorebirds begin migrations through the Galveston Bay area and often stop at the Bolivar Flats...

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You Can’t Say They Don’t Care What You Think – Public Input on HB 4

Last November Texas voters overwhelming approved Proposition 6 – a proposed state constitutional amendment that created a new state water fund for water projects in the state water plan. Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days. But just moving money around doesn’t create water. That’s why what’s happening now at the state’s Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is so important. When Texas legislators proposed Prop 6 to the voters in 2013 they also passed House Bill 4 (HB 4). HB 4 tasks TWDB with administering the SWIFT and sets out some...

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San Antonio Water System Backpedals on Right Choice – Still Considering Groundwater Importation Project

Last month, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club praised staff at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for recommending to their Board that the focus of future water supplies for the city should rest on nearby brackish groundwater, rather than the importation of fresh groundwater from locations distant of the city.    Unfortunately, the SAWS Board, sensing pressure from the business community, has backpedaled against that recommendation to reject all three of the groundwater proposals. The good news is that SAWS did not backpedal on their decision to pass on the groundwater supply proposal from Val Verde County.  The SAWS Board obviously heard loud and clear from environmental groups, farmers, ranchers, and community...

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credit: LaVonda Walton -USFWS

Partners in Conservation of the Edwards Aquifer

Earlier this year, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell presented the Department’s 2013 Partners in Conservation Awards to 20 partnership projects that demonstrate “exemplary natural resource conservation efforts through public-private cooperation”.  Among the recipients of this year’s award was the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) participants, including us, the Texas Living Waters Project. Much has already been written about the success of the EARIP, which began in 2006, in bringing together stakeholders from all sides of the table to resolve the long-standing conflict between pumping from the southern segment of the Edwards Aquifer and protecting endangered species that depend on spring flow from the Aquifer.  What has not been touted nearly as much is...

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Designing Water Rate Structures for Conservation and Revenue Stability

As we have written many times before, water conservation is critical to meeting the future water needs of Texas.  Many programs may be implemented to reduce water use, and a number of utilities across the State are making strong efforts to advance water conservation. One of the most effective methods to driving conservation is water pricing.  Used effectively, price can provide a signal to users regarding the value and supply of water so they can adjust their demand accordingly. Unfortunately, rates are also the primary revenue mechanism for utilities that are also tasked with protecting public health and the environment. This can create a disincentive to increase conservation.  Fixing this conflict requires rethinking...

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Making Waves in San Antonio

While water is always a big topic for those of us at the blog, it has been a particular busy couple of weeks for water in San Antonio.  With a flurry of town hall meetings, film sneak peeks and big announcements, we thought it was time to catch up readers who may have missed the action. SAWS’s Big Announcement First, you might remember that San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) was reviewing several groundwater purchase proposals.  Throughout the process, concerns were raised about transparency and whether the city really needed an additional 50,000 acre-feet of water.  Also, folks surrounding the Val Verde county proposal area were very worried about the long-term effects of the export. On February...

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Gulf Coast Water Providers get Immersed in Water Conservation

If there’s one topic that draws a crowd in Texas these days it’s how to meet our state’s water supply challenges. That’s why 150+ people turned out on a cold winter day in Houston for the 3rd Annual Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium, held on January 23rd.  This conference focused on the region that covers the Houston-Galveston area, including fast-growing suburban Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. The goal of the symposium was to provide area elected officials, senior government managers, water utility staff, business and community leaders, and advocates crucial information about water conservation best practices from state and national leaders so that they may plan for and implement programs that reduce water...

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