September Watershed News
Topics: Blanco Council Approves No-Discharge Task Force | TWDB Rain Catcher Award September Hydro Report | Coleman's Canyon: Protecting Groundwater
Hays Trinity GCD Expands Drought Curtailments | Upcoming Events

Blanco Council Approves Balanced
No-Discharge Task Force

With its unanimous vote Sept. 8, the Blanco City Council delivered on progress toward a lasting solution with Protect Our Blanco for growth and development without wastewater discharge into the Blanco River. A contentious recent history is replaced today by a task force to discuss and quantify engineering options before the end of the year.

The vote represents a second step forward following the Aug. 25 presentation from David Baker, Executive Director of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, representing Protect Our Blanco and downstream stakeholders in Hays County, Hill Country Alliance, Save Our Springs Alliance, and Save Barton Creek Association, and Nick Dornak, Director of Watershed Services for The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. The task force will be facilitated by the Meadows Center, under its two-year agreement with the City to identify sustainable water management solutions.

In its Sept. 8 meeting, the Council engaged in discussion with Dornak to arrive at a detailed motion that affirms a 90-day schedule and sets the next Council Meeting, Sept. 22, to approve the scope of work and composition of the task force. The four representatives for the City of Blanco were named: council members Matt Lewis and Deda Divine, and staff members Ronnie Rodriguez and Will Daves. Four additional members will be named by Protect Our Blanco. In principle, these actions create a fresh start for a process that affects people across the 412 square miles of the Blanco River Basin.

Council discussion included further questions. The City seeks detail on resources to be offered by the Protect Our Blanco proposal, beyond recent engineering studies and environmental research shared in the Aug. 25 presentation. Council members expressed concern that any study recognize and build on millions of dollars in improvements by the City to end discharge that “averted an environmental disaster.”

Beginning in October 2018, the City allowed treated effluent discharge to flow directly into the Blanco River. By the spring of 2019, the Blanco River had become filled with algae blooms downstream. Nutrient levels including nitrogen and phosphorus were too high to support a healthy river and prevent eutrophication and algae. When wastewater discharge into the Blanco River ended in December 2019, the river’s natural healing process returned the water to a cleaner, clearer appearance.

The task force proposal envisions a collaboration that recognizes the fundamental need to keep discharge out of the river, while recognizing the City’s interest in bringing more business to Blanco and helping the region’s population grow responsibly. Engineers can provide long-term solutions through jointly developed scenarios and calculations that span from conventional centralized to a variety of decentralized options. In particular, One Water systems handle wastewater as a resource, not a nuisance, which can be routed to reuse and other beneficial purposes that not only eliminate discharge, but also drastically reduce potable water demand.
Blue Hole Primary Earns the 2020 Texas Water Development Board Rain Catcher Award
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) is proud of the collective accomplishment that is Wimberley ISD’s One Water School – Blue Hole Primary. The honor of the 2020 Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Rain Catcher Award will be shared by the many hands and minds that came together to make this reality—not just theory.

The WVWA has a long history of preserving and protecting water resources in Hays County and the greater Hill Country. Locally, water resources are stressed and oversubscribed because of growth and development.

When Wimberley ISD announced that it would build a new campus for its primary school, it was the perfect opportunity to put the STEM principles of the One Water approach into practice. After all, educators go to great efforts to teach students science, technology, engineering, and math—why not build them a school that showcases those same principles and helps protect our community water supply?

The One Water School is a quadruple-win scenario:

  1. The students and families win because their school incorporates STEM principles through innovative design elements and involves the students as part of the solution.
  2. The school district wins because of the lower recurring operating costs than those of a traditional campus.
  3. The community wins because of the low water demand on limited shared water supplies.
  4. Society wins because One Water theory has been put into practice where it can be measured, modified and improved… to better address water shortage challenges in projects to come.

We’re all in this together. The WVWA is proud to partner with Wimberley ISD, the Meadows Center and all the contractors who have made Blue Hole Primary truly exceptional.
September Hydro Report

After over 8 inches of rain in September alone, considerable runoff increased flow temporarily in both the Blanco River and Cypress Creek. Soils are not saturated enough to sustain recharge, so streamflow and spring flow are returning to...

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Coleman's Canyon Preserve - Protecting Groundwater

Coleman's Canyon Preserve is a 117-acre land conservation and restoration project contiguous to Jacob's Well Natural Area. The property contains significant karst features that recharge Jacob's Well Spring including the iconic Wimberley Bat Cave...

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Hays Trinity GCD expands Drought Curtailments

The Hays Trinity GCD has taken steps to safeguard the groundwater supply and protect spring flow. Recent rains temporarily increased spring flow but were not enough to fully saturate soils to provide sustained recharge to the aquifer system.

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Native Plant and Tree Sale - Hays County Master Gardeners

This annual fundraiser has gone virtual! Order online by Sept. 30 and pick up in Buda or Dripping Springs. The 'Details and Care for Our Trees' link has more information about trees for sale, including size, light and water requirements...

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HCA Leadership Summit

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The 2020 Hill Country Leadership Summit will happen virtually over the span of three days - Sept. 23-25! The Hill Country Leadership Summit provides an opportunity for learning, networking, and being inspired...

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LWV of Hays County to Host Candidate Forums

Hays County, TX -- The League of Women Voters of Hays County will hold six virtual candidate forums for Hays County positions. In addition to the city and county races, there will be a forum for the Texas House 45 candidates.

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A Vision for the Texas Hill Country

Defenders of Wildlife and our partners are working to protect the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country. This incredibly biodiverse area is facing serious...

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The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association is a 501c3 non-profit organization. In order to carry out our mission, we rely upon generous donations by people like you who care about protecting and preserving the natural beauty of the Hill Country. Your contributions are tax-deductible. 
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