June Watershed News
In this issue: Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline Updates, Roadway Project Planning, One Water: Blue Hole Primary, Parks and Open Spaces, Virtual Tour of Cypress Creek BMPs, WVWA Awarded Texas Water Trade Grant, Tell Blanco: Don't Waste Wastewater, FishViews Virtual Float of Cypress Creek, and Featured Resources

Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline Updates
You just can’t make this stuff up!
It seems like every time we turn around Kinder Morgan is in the news again with some bumble-headed blunder, mishap or tragic accident involving our land and water. See the growing list of developments below.

All of these fiascos make one thing blindingly clear: Kinder Morgan and its Permian Highway Pipeline do not belong in the sensitive karst ecological zone of the Texas Hill Country. And they do not belong anywhere near our drinking water.

It’s been ten weeks since the first “incident” at the Blanco River bore site that discharged 36,000 gallons of drilling fluid into the Trinity Aquifer, and ultimately into nearby wells and the drinking water of several homeowners. The photo below is of that drinking water today – STILL UNDRINKABLE.
WVWA and TESPA have joined together to fight Kinder Morgan in the best way we know how – in a federal court of law with the best environmental attorneys in the state of Texas.

The Texas Hill Country Legal Defense Fund is set up to help us pay for all the legal fire power necessary to hold Kinder Morgan’s feet to the fire. Help us turn up the heat. Donate today !

Recent developments:

Hear directly from WVWA's David Baker and TESPA's Patrick Cox in the recent KOOP interview for Civil Rights and Wrongs with Kinder Morgan and PHP in the crosshairs .

Roadway Projects Planning
Roadway planning in the Capital Area moved from regional to local levels with the adoption May 4 of the CAMPO 2045 plan, and one principle is bedrock: “Groundwater has taken us as far as it can go.” Lon Shell, Hays County Commissioner Pct. 3, offered that guiding assessment, as the nascent County transportation planning process picked up where CAMPO ended.

"Conservation is central, said Shell. “If we get in the same drought we saw about ten years ago, the impact will be much worse with all the growth that has occurred since then. We would see something catastrophic.”

Taken together, the County’s planning update and POSAC program offer hope that road construction in watershed areas can be deferred or scaled down prudently to provide only the necessary safety improvements—limited access, turn lanes, shoulders, and bike lanes—that are affordable and minimize ground cover and disruption. Proposed conservation partnerships on key tracts of land remove roadway concerns altogether.
“Scenic Hill Country” designations can support tourism and the arts, and encourage transportation that sustains the natural beauty, delicate ecosystem, and relaxed atmosphere that make the region attractive. Scenic easements have teeth, too, and the same kind of market value that make conservation easements so effective to preserve open space while maintaining landowners’ possession and use.
Regional conservation could provide a more integrated approach to roads, improvements, and subdivisions that prioritizes protection of the watershed and aquifer, as well as property and natural resources, equally with safety and convenience. In particular, subdivision rules could include not just conservation-based development, but also fundamental scientific research to implement the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone. A numerical groundwater flow model, anchored by dye-tracing studies to map aquifer system dynamics, will increase likelihood of success.

Reaching consensus will take work, said Shell. “We will look at how we roll together rules for subdivisions that embody what the community, how we create the environment for sustainable development, and how it is incentivized. That’s what will really change the landscape, and create something the market will respond to.”
“People will understand what we can protect and why,” said Shell, ticking off a list of good conservation ideas: “Rainwater systems, clustering developments, offsetting acreage, a habitat program, water quality measures, open space. These become amenities, and will have high demand. People would love them, and they would put us along that path that is sustainable.”

Parks and Open Spaces
When you visit parks and preserves, please respect other visitors and park rules. It will help keep the environment and our community healthy.

See below for the park updates:
Never have parks and open spaces been more important. Outdoor activities consistently rank as some of the safest, but everyone is cautioned to follow T exas State Health Department guidelines. While experts advise everyone to maintain social distancing, reopening plans have begun for local and county parks!

Plans to add more parks and open spaces to the mix are under way through the Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Commission. Hays County and City of Wimberley parks and preserves serve dual purposes:
  1. Providing recreational space
  2. Preserving sensitive areas and critical habitat
One Water - Blue Hole Primary School

While COVID-19 dominates headlines in 2020, groundwater protection efforts in the Texas Hill Country are set to realize a tremendous success story when the first One Water school in Texas officially opens its doors for classes this fall!

Read more
Virtual Tour of Cypress Creek BMPs
Best Management Practices, or BMPs, are structural, vegetative or managerial practices used to treat, prevent or reduce water pollution. These BMPs are an essential part of water quality protections identified in the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan.

WVWA Awarded Texas Water Trade Grant
The Texas Water Trade's program, the Texas Water Market Makers, will deliver technical expertise and dedicated strategic support to three conservation entities committed to protecting and enhancing freshwater flows in Texas’ rivers and bays. Over the next two years, TWT will support the selected Market Makers – Galveston Bay Foundation, Audubon Texas and Wimberley Valley Water Assocation – to develop science-based market plans for their priority basins.

Tell Blanco: Don't Waste Wastewater
Hill Country streams are especially sensitive to pollution. The City of Blanco has an opportunity to stop new water pollution by using the city’s wastewater for irrigation and other purposes. Beneficial reuse protects water quality and can replace potable water for irrigation use. We need these innovative solutions to help conserve the sensitive, finite water resources in the Hill Country.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently considering a permit application that would allow Blanco to increase the amount of wastewater released by its treatment plant, from 225,000 gallons per day to 1,600,000 gallons per day. The No Dumping Sewage campaign has joined with Protect Our Blanco , Wimberley Valley Water Association , and other local groups to ask TCEQ to reject the application.
We’re encouraging Blanco to use alternative treatments to get rid of wastewater. One of the best options is known as the beneficial reuse of wastewater for landscape irrigation and other low-priority uses.
Parks, medians, and sports fields are usually irrigated with drinking water. But that doesn’t make sense — why should we use our best water for purposes that don’t need it?

TCEQ recently created a new incentive for beneficial reuse (see this article on the New Dumping Sewage website). Beneficial reuse — also known as reclaimed water or recycled water — has already been adopted by several Hill Country communities, including Lakeway , Marble Falls , and Austin . If they can do it, so can Blanco!

FishViews – Virtual Tour of Cypress Creek
Got cabin fever? Go for a virtual kayak ride down Cypress Creek! Commissioned by the WVWA, FishViews extends the beauty and peaceful nature of Wimberley’s pride and joy to the device of your choice! Satisfy your inner water-nerd by checking out the running water quality graph as you go with the flow. Enjoy!

Featured Resources
E-Nature for Kids of All Ages

The Hays County Master Naturalists aim to keep kids engaged and learning about nature in new ways! Check out their video series to learn about local amphibians, butterflies, birds, animal signs, and more.

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Big Opportunities Ahead for Green Infrastructure in...

Texas' Flood Infrastructure Fund has created an exciting opportunity for communities to protect themselves against future flooding and recognizes that nature-based flood mitigation projects are an important part of the solution!

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