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Planning for Our State’s Water Future in the Midst of a Pandemic – You Have a Unique Opportunity for Your Voice to Be Heard!

By Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair, Sierra Club - Lone Star Chapter Planning for the future is always a challenge – even more so in the midst of a pandemic. Texans currently are coping with the uncertainties of the Covid-19 crisis – financial hardships, continuing hospitalizations and deaths, the impacts of “reopening” the economy while the virus spreads – focused on the next several months, not looking 50 years ahead. However, the Covid-19 crisis may be a relatively short-term period in history, albeit one with profound impacts for years to come. On the other hand, Texas faces numerous ongoing and recurring challenges. For example, our state has had devastating droughts in the past and inevitably...

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Supreme Court Makes Ripples with Indirect Discharge Case Under the Clean Water Act

By Danielle Goshen, Water Policy and Outreach Specialist, Galveston Bay Foundation Not too long ago in our Nation’s history, waterways across the United States were in critical condition. Mounting environmental consciousness in the late 1960’s coupled with catastrophic events, such as the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, led to major amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. These amendments, made in 1972, are now referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA). Congress’s intent in creating the CWA was an unambiguous response to the environmental concerns of the day -- to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” To make the importance of this clear, Congress even...

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Big Opportunities Lie Ahead for Green Infrastructure in Texas

By Danielle Goshen, Water Policy and Outreach Specialist, Galveston Bay Foundation Green infrastructure and nature-based solutions are essential to creating flood resilient communities in Texas. Traditional gray infrastructure techniques such as dams, levees, and channels, capture water and push it downstream. On the other hand, green infrastructure and nature-based solutions are effective flood mitigation tools that capture water at the source, and allow the water to infiltrate into the ground. This reduces runoff and strain on traditional flood infrastructure during flooding events. Examples of green and nature-based flood mitigation solutions include: open space preservation, bank stabilization and natural erosion control, wetland restoration, permeable pavement, and bioswales, and others. Importantly, when not serving flooding mitigation purposes, green...

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Big Thicket_Photo by Charles Kruvand

State and Regional Flood Planning: The Future of Flood Resilience in Texas

By Teal Harrison, Outreach Manager, National Wildlife Federation  Starting in 2020, Texas stakeholders will have the opportunity to determine the best flood mitigation strategies for their region through a process called “flood planning.” Regional Flood Planning Groups (RFPG) will lead this effort, as prescribed by Senate Bill 8 which was passed by Texas Legislature in 2019. Flood planning regions will correspond with 15 major Texas rivers and coastal basins delineated by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Based on the current draft rules, each RFPG will be composed of 11 voting-member interests and 7 state agency non-voting members. RFPG membership will be voluntary, and TWDB will designate the initial members of each region’s planning group...

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Newly Launched Matagorda Bay Ecosystem Assessment can Inform Conservation Efforts

By Danielle Goshen, Water Policy & Outreach Specialist, Galveston Bay Foundation Some places truly do have it all. Matagorda Bay, located along the coast in Southeastern Texas is a veritable treasure trove of charismatic species. Relatively undeveloped compared to other Bay systems along the Texas coast, Matagorda Bay is home to many species listed as threatened and endangered on both the federal and state level. A few of these at-risk species include the Kemps Ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, interior least tern, and piping plovers. Even a few members of the last wild migrating flock of whooping crane, whose recovering population has been recently estimated to be just over 500, have been spotted hunting blue...

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One Water in Action: Travis County Courthouse

By Jennifer Walker, National Wildlife Federation & Bill Moriarty This summer, Travis County broke ground on the new Civil and Family Court Building. The 435,000 square foot facility is located at 1700 Guadalupe Street and sits on 1.46-acres.  It is located in the northern part of downtown which is rapidly being re-developed. Travis County leadership realized early that construction of this new facility was a unique opportunity to deploy One Water strategies for the good of the community.  Commissioner Brigid Shea worked closely with the City of Austin’s Water Forward Task Force, Austin Water, and the County’s engineering team to develop a facility that will capture much of its water supply onsite thereby substantially reducing...

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Ensuring One Water Delivers for Healthy Waterways

By Jennifer Walker, National Wildlife Federation & Myron Hess, Tributary Consulting Texas Living Waters is an active advocate for the One Water approach because it offers tremendous opportunities for improving how water is managed. Even so, we are concerned that the available One Water implementation frameworks are not providing adequate guidance or methodologies for ensuring that implementation of One Water principles will result in actual on-the-ground benefits in achieving “healthy waterways,” which is a key component of the One Water approach. There often seems to be an assumption that implementing a One Water approach will automatically produce environmental benefits. However, One Water’s emphasis on local water capture, efficiency and reuse, if not carefully considered, may actually pose...

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SWIFT Success Stories: Texas Cities Accelerate Water Conservation Projects with State Funding

By Sapna Mulki, Water Savvy Solutions & Meghan Bock, AIQUEOUS The State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) was passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature and approved by voters via a constitutional amendment in 2013. At the time, Texas was coming off the heels of one of the state’s worst droughts on record. Recognizing the vital role Texas water utilities play in protecting and strengthening Texas water supplies for decades to come, the Texas Legislature moved forward with the adoption of SWIFT to provide enhanced funding for the implementation of projects identified in the Regional and State Water Plans. A core component of the SWIFT legislation was its commitment to allocating at least 20% of...

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It Was Worth It : How A Small Water Utility Successfully Acquired a Loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

By Sapna Mulki, Water Savvy Solutions Background: A small public water system located south of Austin, Texas, Creedmoor Maha Water Supply Corporation (CMWSC) serves an estimated population of 7,500 customers or 2,500 connections in Creedmoor-Maha. Like most Texas water utilities, CMWSC faces increasing pressure from ongoing costs associated with maintaining an aging system. The majority of CMWSC's 170 miles of water lines date back to the 1960's and are therefore reaching the end of their service life. As a result, the system is constantly being fixed for major leaks and pipe bursts, which has become costly and unsustainable - "It was like a whack-a-mole effect," said CMWSC Board President Bennie Bock, "when one [pipe] broke, another...

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Unpave The Parking Lot and Create Paradise: A Story of Headwaters at the Comal River

By Nancy Pappas, Managing Director of New Braunfels Utilities’ Headwaters at the Comal The Beginning Remember the Joni Mitchell song “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot”?  Well, imagine you are on the Governing Board of the New Braunfels Utility and the staff proposes a plan to parcel off sections of a valuable 16 acres tract of land - once the fleet, facility and operations center for the growing utility - for development.  The mostly asphalt-paved property could bring in a significant amount of short-term funding redeveloped for commercial purposes, however, it also happens to have the neglected and long-forgotten original water source for the New Braunfels community.  What would you recommend? Keep...

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