July Watershed News
In this issue: Hydro Report, Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline Opinion Editorial from TESPA, Nationwide Pipeline Litigation, HTGCD Letter to Hays Co. Well Owners, One Water: Blue Hole Primary, Coleman's Canyon Open Space Project Potential, and Featured Resources

Hydro Report - July
These are dry times, and creeks and groundwater levels are starting to really show it. It's been nearly two months since the last major rainfall (EAA gage reported 2.5" on May 25th). Summers in Central Texas are typically dry and hot; this year is no exception.

Soils are drying out and smaller creeks have stopped flowing. Middle Trinity springs are sustaining flow in the Blanco River and Cypress Creek. Pleasant Valley and Park Springs' flow is estimated by the USGS gage near Fisher Store Rd. Jacob's Well flow is measured at the USGS gage at the Natural Area. Both springs show a steady decline since June 1st. At Jacob's Well under these low-flow conditions, groundwater pumping can cause 1 to 1.5 cubic feet per second (cfs) fluctuation in flow throughout the day. This increased variation in Jacob's Well springflow through time is shown in green hydrograph above.

Water levels in monitor wells show similar trends, though the decline is slightly delayed. Review of selected HTGCD monitor well data (from west to east) show that water level in the Burnett Ranch well began declining in early July, the Mt. Baldy well began declining in mid-July, and the Downing well shows decline since early June. Review of the BSEACD monitor wells shows the Edwards aquifer is behaving similarly. Water levels in the Hoskins and Lovelady wells began declining in early June.

To preserve our water resources, conservation is key--especially during these dry times. Outdoor landscape and lawn irrigation can account for up to 60% of household water use. During these dry summer months when springflow and groundwater levels are low, Please limit outdoor water use and if you do choose to water outdoors, do it in the early morning or late evening to limit evaporation. Native and drought-tolerant landscaping is paying off now--those plants are accustomed to hot, dry Texas summers. Keep an eye out for leaks, and use water wisely.

Find links and more info on the WVWA Water Monitoring page and read up on Water Conservation Tips on the Mitchell Foundation blog.
PHP: Stop Work, Move It, and Respect the Texas Hill Country
Opinion Editorial by Patrick Cox, Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association

The construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) by Kinder Morgan is a perilous and unprecedented threat to the Texas Hill Country. From the beginning of this project, Kinder Morgan demonstrated a thorough lack of concern and understanding of the ecological sensitivities, the hydrological uniqueness, and the sensitive nature of our region.

And they have also underestimated the people who live here and care so deeply for this area.

TESPA-WVWA Hold KM Accountable

The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) have joined forces to hold Kinder Morgan accountable for violations to our land, our people, and the drinking water we rely on. On June 22, TESPA filed a federal suit against Kinder Morgan following the discharge of more than 36,000 gallons of drilling fluid that contaminated area wells near the Blanco River bore site. The drilling fluid was made from a product that contained class 1A carcinogens.

Kinder Morgan has publicly stated, more than once, their project is “constructed in accordance with strict regulatory and environmental standards and industry best practices.”

To the contrary, we believe their decisions and actions on this project have jeopardized the health and well-being of everyone in the Texas Hill Country. TESPA’s legal action cites violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act that protects “underground sources of drinking water”.

Defense for Homeowners with Undrinkable Water 

The lawsuit is taken on behalf of the homeowners whose sole source of drinking water became undrinkable and on behalf of every citizen and property owner in the region. The PHP drilling fluid discharged into our aquifer reveals much about the audacious scheme and miscalculations for a pipeline through this region. However, the litany of mistakes made by Kinder Morgan during planning and construction is ongoing.

Recent spring storms resulted in serious runoff and pollution of pristine Hill Country streams near the PHP pipeline construction sites due to insufficient barriers and protections. Subsequently, a PHP contractor attempted an unsafe river crossing, got stuck, and lost a canister containing radioactive material into the Pedernales River for several days before it was recovered 13 miles downstream.

Groundwater, drinking water and surface waters – all have suffered from the potential of contamination by this unwelcome, dangerous pipeline intrusion.

What we have witnessed is a worst-case scenario for the people of the Blanco River Valley and Hill Country landowners in the path and near proximity of Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline. No company has the right to destroy our aquifers, springs, habitats and threaten our drinking water.

STOP work, FIX the mess, PAY for damages, and MOVE this pipeline

Our message to Kinder Morgan is still this: STOP work on the PHP, FIX the mess you made, PAY for damages, and MOVE this pipeline out of the ultra-sensitive karst region of the Texas Hill Country. The pristine Texas Hill Country is an integral part of my family’s life, as it is for thousands of others who live and visit here. We understand the unique karst aquifers and the fragile environment we inhabit. We know how to care for it, and we are willing to fight for it.

Patrick Cox, Ph.D., board member and executive director of TESPA, has spent nearly five decades living in and loving the Texas Hill Country from his home in Wimberley. TESPAtexas.org
Nationwide Litigation Could Affect Permian Highway Pipeline

Wrong Pipeline In The Wrong Place... The Keystone XL (construction permit revoked) and the Dakota Access pipelines (ordered to stop pumping by August) recently suffered major legal defeats. Kinder Morgan's 430-mile PHP faces a maze of litigation...

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Letter to Hays Co. Well Owners from HTGCD
On July 10, 2020, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District released a letter to well owners within their jurisdiction in Hays County within 5 miles of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The letter contains recommendations for well owners if they notice a change in taste, odor or appearance of their well water. 

The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District estimates that there are 738 registered water wells that fall within 5 miles of the pipeline’s path. They consider those wells to be the most vulnerable to contamination in the event of a construction accident or transmission rupture and explain that while most pipelines operate safely and without incident, due to a March 2020 Kinder Morgan pipeline accident that occurred in Blanco County, they must take the threat of accidents seriously.

The groundwater conservation district recommends that well owners verify that their well is registered and has updated contact infomation. To register an unregistered well use the online registration form on the Forms page of the District website. To verify that your contact information is current, email the District (gm@haysgroundwater.org) and we will update you in our well database — free of charge. The letter explains that property owners with registered wells are more likely to benefit from legal standing in a court of law.

In an effort to spread this important information, the letter is reprinted along with useful links on the WVWA News Post: Letter to Hays Co. Well Owners from HTGCD.
Wimberley ISD's One Water School - Blue Hole Primary

Blue Hole Primary was designed and constructed with strong support from the WVWA, Meadows Center, and the community. Construction nears completion and the campus touts impressive stats: 200,000 gal. water storage, 78,000 sq ft of roof, graywater...

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Coleman's Canyon Preserve - Hays Co. Open Space Potential

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

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Featured Resources
Jacobs Well Spring Soap | Old Factory

Old Factory is an artisan soapcrafter headquartered near Blanco. They’ve set up an amazing way to support the WVWA! They donate a 10% of proceeds when you purchase Jacob’s Well bar soap. Now you can help protect and enjoy Jacob’s Well in your shower!

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Great Springs Project Envisions a Network of Trails From ...

Twenty-seven years ago, Deborah Morin watched as the hills, streams, caves, and springs of the Hill Country outside of Austin were being gobbled up by construction. At the time, Morin was serving on the board of the Hill Country Foundation, where ...

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