Austin and the Austin environmental community lost a beloved leader and friend yesterday when long-time Austin Environmental Commission Chair Dr. Mary Gay Maxwell died in a tragic auto accident in Smithville. Dr. Maxwell was travelling from visiting family in Houston to a civic gathering in Austin. In the late 1990s Dr. Maxwell, a mental health counselor, joined the Save Our Springs Alliance Board of Directors. In 1999, during a time of difficulty, Dr. Maxwell stepped in as SOS's full time volunteer executive director.
Dr. Maxwell shown here receiving an award from Brigid Shea and Bill Bunch for her service to SOS
Just before spring break, SOS Alliance filed a Texas Public Information Act lawsuit to expose secret moves to take private land for a 142-mile pipeline that would deliver Carrizo Wilcox groundwater from northeast of Austin all the way to San Antonio and into the Hill Country. This is just one piece of a regional coalition effort to “oppose the San Antonio hose.” Read the lawsuit pdf here (3.46 MB) and the press release pdf here (70 KB).
Long-time SOS Board member and transportation activist Roger Baker published an in-depth look at our broken system of transportation planning in Austin and across the state.
Baker argues that Austin should learn from Houston's mistakes and follow the lead of recently elected Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in prioritizing projects that reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel. Read it HERE.
The Meadows Center for Water & the Environment published a research paper by hydrologist Doug Wierman titled “Has the Highway 290 Pipeline Contributed to Increased Groundwater Pumpage in Northern Hays County?” SOS Alliance joined with the Hill Country Alliance and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association to help fund this project. SOS's GIS specialist, Stephen Ramirez, contributed mapping to the report. The report concludes that construction of the waterline, which delivers Lake Austin water to Dripping Springs and points in between, has spawned more well drilling and pumping of limited groundwater supplies in the area.
Today a coalition of individuals and conservation, neighborhood and civic groups filed suit in federal court to force a comprehensive environmental study of the extension and expansion of South Mopac over the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.
Specifically, the suit seeks to stop construction of the proposed SH 45 SW toll road extension to South Mopac, the addition of six non-tolled lanes to the southern 2.1 miles of Mopac, and the addition of 2 to 4 toll lanes to the 8.1 mile stretch of Mopac from north of Slaughter Lane to Cesar Chavez until a federal environmental study is completed on the entire three-segment project.
Austin activist Shudde Fath is the lead plaintiff. Other plaintiffs include former Austin mayors Carole Keeton and Frank Cooksey; citizen activists and music industry stalwarts Susan and Jerry Jeff Walker; and Keep Mopac Local coalition members Save Our Springs Alliance, Save Barton Creek Association, Clean Water Action, and The
Friendship Alliance of Northern Hays County. Two new groups, the Friends of the Wildflower Center and Mopac Corridor Neighbors Alliance, are also plaintiffs.