EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Austin and the surrounding Central Texas region is experiencing rapid growth in population, employment, and land area affected by development. According to the 2010 Census, Austin is home to 790,390 people and by 2020 Austin's population is projected to reach 967,757. Regional projections are even more dramatic; Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties' combined population in 2010 is 1.6 million and is projected to grow to nearly 2 million by 2020.
Because urban development occurs (and degrades water quality) in increments, and mainstream media coverage is sporadic, on a project-by-project basis, the vast majority of citizens have no real understanding of either the rate or extent of suburban and ex-urban sprawl and what that will mean for the future of our region. The effects are not limited to destruction of rural lands, wildlife habitats, and pristine Hill Country streams and springs. Severe financial and social costs are occurring, some of which we are only beginning to understand, such as declining water quality and decreased spring flows. Degradation of water supplies results in Austin residents spendng more money to secure water supplies and to treat this water to drinking water standards.
One of the greatest challenges to Save Our Springs Alliance’s work is communicating effectively to new citizens and the general public on where the Edwards Aquifer is located, why it is important and vulnerable, and why development upstream in the Hill Country pollutes Barton Springs.
We realize that the only way to preserve the Hill Country and Barton Springs is by public outreach and by dramatically increasing our education efforts to match the increase in population. The Save Our Springs Alliance seeks to expand its current Education and Outreach Program to educate the citizens and local officials about the threats to the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs, and how we as a community can protect it for future generations.