Archived Newsletters

nullBarton Springs University Now Online

If you missed the Barton Springs University sessions at Barton Springs Fest in August, now you can see them online. Check out the videos of experts on the biology, hydro-geology, conservation, history, culture, and Native American religious significance of Barton Springs. We expect these to be the first in a series of teaching sessions on all things Edwards Aquifer.

Thank you Councilmembers Morrison and Tovo

Yesterday a unanimous Austin City Council adopted a major rewrite to the City's watershed protection ordinances. Most of the changes were either beneficial or neutral. The most significant change added stream buffer zones to east Austin creeks. The vote came after Councilmembers Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo took action to remove amendments to the Save Our Springs ordinance that would have expanded and further weakened the "redevelopment" exception. Since SOS ordinance amendments require a supermajority vote, their actions were decisive.

Please join us in thanking Councilmembers Morrison and Tovo, and their aides Donna Tiemann and Shannon Halley for working hard to wade through all of the details of the 165-page ordinance rewrite.

Vote No On Proposition 6

As early voting begins, please take a few minutes to read our statement on why the Proposition 6 $2 billion water fund will lead us away from water security and affordability.Whether your primary concern is rivers or ratepayers, Prop 6 is more about pork than wise water management.

holiday sally SOS 2013 Holiday Party and Silent Auction

Save Our Springs' most rockin' annual Holiday Party and Silent Auction, Thursday December 12, 6 PM - midnight at the fabulous Mercury Hall.

Want to help make the party awesome? We need sponsors and silent auction donors! Our mailings go out soon but you can sponsor now by clicking HERE or donate to the auction by clicking HERE. Just fill out the form and email, fax or mail it in. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to getting together and celebrating another year of enjoying our beautiful Barton Springs!

Help us continue our legal and educational efforts!!
Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today

Flood waters hit Barton Creek, closing Barton Springs, the same week we are inundated with water  challenges. Here are the headlines - and two easy requests for action!

SOS Alliance Board Urges "No" Vote on State Proposition 6 - the $2 billion boondoggle fund

The SOS Alliance Board voted unanimously (with one abstention) to recommend a "no" vote on State Proposition 6. Read our statement HERE. Watch YNN in the days ahead to see SOS Alliance Executive Director Bill Bunch debate Prop 6 with others. Attend a League of Women Voters debate on the topic this Thursday, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church. Details HERE.

Comments and Survey Responses Needed to Just Say "No thank you" to the Aquifer Toll Road

Take just a few minutes to tell TxDOT that building the SH45SW aquifer toll road will pollute Texas' most vulnerable drinking water aquifer while overwhelming Mopac with interstate and interregional traffic. We should improve I-35, Manchaca, and 1626, and move on the Austin-San Antonio rail connection instead of converting Mopac from a local commuter highway to Interstate 35 West.  The initial comment deadline is this Friday, October 18, 2013. The online comment and survey forms are HERE.

holiday sally Mark Your Calendars

For Save Our Springs' most rockin' annual Holiday Party and Silent Auction, Thursday December 12, 6 PM - midnight at the fabulous Mercury Hall.  Stay tuned for more details....

 


Austin Watershed Ordinance Overall Back Up Tomorrow

The City Council is set to vote tomorrow on 2nd and 3rd reading of a comprehensive reworking of City watershed ordinances.  While many of the changes are desirable, SOS Alliance opposes changes that would weaken protections for redevelopment in the Barton Springs watershed. Read more HERE.

Help us continue our legal and educational efforts!!
Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Matching Grant from Kirk Mitchell Seeds Fight Against Aquifer Sewage, Toll Roads

SOS Alliance will receive a $34,000 matching grant from the Kirk Mitchell Environmental Law Fund to support our advocacy against proposed wastewater disposal and toll road construction over the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The grant will support scientists and lawyers working at discounted, public interest rates to protect the aquifer identified by the State as more vulnerable to pollution than any other major aquifer in Texas.

This is a matching grant: we are challenged to raise $2 for every $1 dollar granted. We are already roughly half way to this goal - and will be working hard to complete the match over the next month.  You can help us make this goal with a matching, tax-deductible online donation today.

The $100,000 pollution prevention advocacy fund recognizes that protecting Barton Springs from pollution and excessive pumping requires hard work, sound science, and a community of citizens who are committed to protecting Barton Springs for ourselves and for future generations.

We extend our appreciation to Kirk Mitchell, SOS Alliance Board Chair Emeritus and Austin investor and philanthropist, for this critical matching grant. Read more about the Kirk Mitchell Environmental Law Fund HERE.

Thanks also go to everyone who has donated recently to our fight against the "Jeremiah Misadventure" sewer plant proposed to be built near Onion Creek on the Barton Springs recharge zone.  We are committed to stopping this pollution before one drop is spilled or sprayed. The permit application is now officially on hold while the developer negotiates a potential sale of the property to the City of Austin for watershed protection.  If the sale goes through, the land will be permanently protected and the permit application will be cancelled.

Comment now through next Friday on the Zombie Aquifer Toll Road

Go to www.sh45sw.com and file your comments on the recently revived proposal to build a connector toll road between the southern end of Mopac and Interstate 35. The deadline for initial scoping comments is this Friday, October 18, 2013. Proponents of the road admit their goal is to shift traffic from Hays County away from I-35, Manchaca, and Brodie over to Mopac. This means diverting (and encouraging) more traffic and development on to and over the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. It also means tens of thousands more cars dumped on to Mopac every single day. Tell the toll road authority and TxDOT to "Keep Mopac Local," don't dump on Mopac or Barton Springs, and invest limited transportation dollars in projects that support development where we want it, not on top of Texas' most vulnerable drinking water aquifer.

Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Aquifer Sewage Abated

As reported in today's Austin Chronicle, the wastewater permit battle between SOS Alliance and developer "Jeremiah Venture"  was put on hold for six weeks while the developer negotiates a potential sale of the 604 acre Hudson Ranch to the City of Austin for addition to the City's Barton Springs watershed protection lands.   If a deal is struck, the land would be permanently protected and the permit application would go away.   It's not over yet, but we would never be at this spot without a strong case against the permit made possible by the generous support of our members.  Thank you!!

Massive Watershed Rewrite at City Council Today

The last item on today's Austin City Council agenda proposes a massive rewrite of the City's watershed protection ordinances.  While many of the changes are for the better, the changes include an expansion of the SOS "redevelopment exception" to multi-family properties and allowing more phantom impervious cover - roadway pavement not counted as "impervious cove."  Please take one minute and send a quick email to all the councilmembers HERE and urge them to keep the SOS ordinance as it is and to count all (not just some) impervious cover.

Zombie Aquifer Toll Road IS BAAACK!  Just tell them "No more traffic on Mopac!"

The Austin local toll road authority, the CTRMA, is hosting an initial "open house" on the revived plan to build the SH 45 Southwest toll road next Tuesday, October 8, from 5:00 until 8:00 PM at Bailey Middle School.

The meeting has been specially designed to suppress public input, especially opposition to the proposal.  No formal speaking or question and answer will be allowed.  Postcard announcements were only mailed to some Mopac corridor neighbors: the rather bizarre postcard contained a map that does not show how to get to the meeting location and does not show the route of the proposed toll road.  (The link above shows how to get to Bailey Middle School).

The school is tucked away on a cul de sac in the Shady Hollow neighborhood - where neighborhood leaders are pushing the toll road with the (mistaken) belief that, if built, the road would reduce traffic on Brodie Lane. 

You can send in comments now through October 18 at this link. This is only the beginning of a new "state" Environmental Impact Study process, but it is important to tell the CTRMA now that:

1. There is no such thing as a green toll road over the recharge zone for Texas' most vulnerable aquifer; 2. There should be no more traffic on Mopac (TxDOT's own analysis shows that if built the road would dump up to 30,000 more cars per day on South Mopac); and 3. Commuters from eastern Hays county should never be diverted to the west, on top of the aquifer and to an already overcrowded Mopac.

Attend Climate-Com Sunday

Climate Communications from the Media
A Change is in the Air, Let's Change the Way we Communicate

Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 3:30 PM-7 PM at Scholz Biergarten - 1607 San Jacinto $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for students, 16 and under free. For details click HERE.


Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Today the Austin City Council, agenda item #51, will again consider a proposal "settlement" deal with the Eli Garza family to allow development far in excess of SOS impervious cover limits on the Barton Springs recharge zone near William Cannon and Mopac. The deal should be denied for several reasons, but primarily because the Garza family has no plausible "grandfathering" claim to make: a portion of the land is clearly under the SOS ordinance and a portion is now, by previous settlement, grandfathered. The rules are clear and the Garzas should follow them. Any deal, with no real grandfathering claim to "settle," will only invite others to threaten groundless litigation and "Austin bashing" legislation.

The deal requires a supermajority vote. Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo have refused to support the deal so far and we urge them to continue their opposition. Read more HERE.

Jeremiah Venture Update

The formal hearing on the Jeremiah Venture wastewater permit application is set to begin Monday morning, September 30, at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, located in the Clements State Office Building at 15th and Lavaca. The hearing is open to the public. We will know an exact room assignment and start time on Friday. The hearing will start with the Applicant's environmental engineer and soil scientist testifying. SOS Alliance will likely present its expert witness beginning late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Living Springs Project Needs Your Help

The Living Springs project is currently in the midst of an on-line fundraiser to complete the Living Springs documentary for the SPLASH! exhibit. Karen Kocher has been working on this project since 2010 and it now includes wonderful profiles of the two Bills, Bunch and Oliver. If you haven't seen these videos, have a look at livingspringsaustin.orgWhile you are there consider making a donation. Her work will help document and preserve the many stories of Barton Springs. The direct link to the fundraising page isrally.org/livingsprings


Attend Climate-Com, October 6th

Climate Communications from the Media
A Change is in the Air, Let's Change the Way we Communicate

Sunday October 6, 2013 -  3:30 PM - 7 PM at Scholz Biergarten - 1607 San Jacinto $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for students, 16 and under free. For details click HERE.

Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Gary Perez Speaking Today at Mexican American Cultural Center at 2pm

Gary Perez, Sacred Sites Director of the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos, is speaking at 2 PM today at the Mexican American Cultural Center,  600 River Street, with Dr. Mario Garza on "The White Shaman Panel: The Coahuiltecan Creation Journey".  If you missed his presentation at the Barton Springs Fest or if you would like to learn more, please attend today.  

Here's the link to the Indigenous Culture's summary of the presentation:
http://www.indigenouscultures.org/programs-speakers.html


Jeremiah Venture Update

Last Thursday, the Administrative Law Judge presiding over SOS Alliance's protest of the Jeremiah Venture application for a permit to irrigate up to 270,000 gallons per day of treated sewage directly on the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone denied a request from the developer's lawyers to strike SOS' party status. The formal hearing on SOS's protest will now be heard next week, Sept. 30 thru Oct. 4. Stay tuned for updates.

Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

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Justin's Graves Cave on proposed
Jeremiah Ventures site

FURTHER JEREMIAH MISADVENTURES

Great coverage this week in the Austin Chronicle on the continuing battle against the proposed "Jeremiah Venture" sewage plant over the aquifer. Last week SOS Alliance filed its written, expert testimony for the upcoming hearing. Live testimony of witnesses from SOS, the developer, and the state environmental agency (TCEQ) is set for the first week of October.

We are committed to preventing this planned pollution source both through the legal system and in the court of public opinion.  Your generous support is critical to our efforts.  If we prevail we will not only prevent a major new pollution source on the aquifer - we will send a strong message to other developers that spreading treated wastewater on the Edwards Aquifer is not a viable option for developing new subdivisions in the Hill Country.

Thanks to all of you that have made a donation to this important effort. If you have not made a donation, please consider one today. Donations of $25 and over will receive a new Barton Creek Greenbelt Map!  You can donate HERE or mail a check to P.O. Box 684881, Austin, TX, 78768. Thank you for your consideration.


Living Springs Full Moon Screening September 19th

nullCome on out for another Living Springs full moon screening. September 19th at 8 p.m. at Barton Springs - north entrance. Bring a chair or blanket. This time the program includes Waterworks, a little history, and a poem by Tony Hoagland featuring some spectacular misty morning footage at the Springs.

Thanks to those of you who have contributed to this documentary by Karen Kocher. If you haven't yet contributed to Living Springs, please consider it. This is a very worthy project and will benefit our preservation efforts for years to come.

under water


SPRINGS ARE STILL AMAZING 

We never understood the tradition among some people to put away your swimsuit at the end of August. The springs are fabulous all year around. We will soon schedule a few more snorkel tours for those who missed them at Barton Springs Fest. But don't wait for us: grab a mask and snorkel and go see for yourself. You won't believe your eyes.

Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

nullSNAKES IN A CAVE!  SEWAGE ON A PLANE!

Well, something like that.  It's actually sewage on a cave - on a whole bunch of caves -- if the Jeremiah Venture wastewater permit is approved by the state environmental agency (TCEQ).

And, yes, you can see the photos and read about the crazy scheme to spray partially treated sewage over caves and sinkholes on the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer HERE.

Magically, this sewage will not be drawn by gravity down into these caves and sinkholes and the aquifer.  It will disappear!  That is how the Jeremiah Venture developers (Lee Weber, Shawn Breedlove and others) and their "experts" think it will happen.

Of course, gravity does happen.  But with your help, we can keep the sewage off of the caves and out of our water.  Please donate today, and we will keep the Jeremiah Venture sewage out of the Edwards AquiferMany thanks to those of you who already made a donation! READ MORE HERE.

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Barton Springs Fest 2013

Check out the photos from the August 10th Barton Springs Fest at Barton Springs pool. We will have the Barton Springs University speaker videos up in the next few days. See the photos HERE.

 

Living Springs Project Needs Your Help

The Living Springs project is currently in the midst of an on-line fundraiser to complete the Living Springs documentary for the SPLASH! exhibit. Karen Kocher has been working on this project since 2010 and it now includes wonderful profiles of the two Bills, Bunch and Oliver. If you haven't seen these videos, have a look at livingspringsaustin.org. While you are there consider making a donation. Her work will help document and preserve the many stories of Barton Springs. The direct link to the fundraising page can is rally.org/livingsprings.

Help us continue our legal and educational efforts!!
Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Late last night 4 members of the Austin City Council (Spelman, Leffingwell, Martinez, Cole) voted to abandon City opposition to a developer proposed wastewater irrigation plant that would be built on the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone above Onion Creek. If approved, it would be the first such facility permitted on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone in more than a decade.

Before the vote, the City had been working closely with SOS Alliance for more than six years to oppose the precedent setting permit application. If approved, it would allow the irrigation of 115 acres of land with up to 3 feet of wastewater per acre per year to dispose of sewage from a planned 1000 to 1200 home subdivision. The wastewater facilities would be located immediately adjacent to City of Austin Barton Springs watershed protection lands.

SOS Alliance will continue the fight against the "Jeremiah Venture" permit with the best scientists and lawyers on the case. SOS experts Dr. Lauren Ross, Dr. Phil Bennett, and Dr. Norma Fowler have prepared a powerful scientific case showing that the proposed wastewater system will pollute the Edwards Aquifer in violation of controlling state environmental laws. SOS will present our case to an Administrative Law Judge in a formal hearing the first week of October.

Please consider donating right now to support our scientists and attorneys in this important fight to stop all wastewater irrigation on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

Without the City's help, SOS must now bear the entire burden of keeping sewage off of the aquifer.  We need your help now to win this fight without any further help from the City.

Special thanks to Councilmembers Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo, and Chris Riley for voting against the settlement.

Zombie Site Plans Resurrected

Five Austin councilmembers also voted to resurrect development site plans that expired between 2006 and 2012, giving them (including all variances) a second life of one to three years.

City staff estimated roughly 100 site plans would be resurrected.The action excluded site plans that had claimed grandfathering, so many of the worst ones were excluded.Also, Councilmember Sheryl Cole limited the damage by amending the action to exclude expired site plans in the Barton Springs watershed. Thanks go again to councilmembers Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo for voting no on the zombie resurrection ordinance.

We need your help now to support our legal and educational efforts to protect Barton Springs.
Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.

Please act right now to tell the Austin City Council to stop the zombie development resurrection ordinance and to keep partially treated sewage out of Barton Springs. Read on for the details, but please send an email now (message and link below) - and come to city hall this morning if possible to speak in favor of Barton Springs and neighborhood protection and against false emergencies and back room developer deals.

Today's Austin City Council Item 79, co-sponsored by Councilmember Bill Spelman and Mayor Leffingwell, would resurrect hundreds of expired developments in neighborhoods across Austin with no review or input from the public, from established city boards and commissions, or from adjacent property owners or affected neighborhood associations.

The Spelman/Leffingwell item appeared with no notice or warning, with no analysis, review, or consideration by the city's Environmental Board or Planning Commission, and with no input from any stakeholders other than developer lobbyists.

If approved, hundreds of development site plans that expired for various reasons between 2006 and 2012 would be automatically resurrected, without notice  to neighbors or review by council or boards and commissions. There is no legal or public policy reason for taking such a rash action, without normal due process or community input.

Please send an email right now (see below) and/or call Councilmember Bill Spelman's office at 512-974-2256.

Also, please join in urging the City Council to continue opposing developer Jeremiah Venture's proposal to irrigate partially treated sewage directly on the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The City has been a key partner to SOS Alliance and Save Barton Creek Assn. in opposing the developer plan to spread up to 300,000 gallons of sewage every day over land riddled with caves, fractures and sinkholes just above Onion Creek. The permit request is set for a formal hearing before an administrative law judge on September 30. The Jeremiah Venture lawyers made a last minute settlement proposal to the City that will be considered as Item 33 on today's council agenda. The latest settlement offer does nothing to keep the partially treated sewage out of the aquifer and Barton Springs. If approved, the proposal would set a new precedent for spray irrigating sewage on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

Please help us "just say no thank you" to zombie development, sewage in Barton Springs, and violations of basic due process and fairness in local decision-making. Thank you for your concern and action. 

Copy and paste the following message or create your own message to all city council at this link:

http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members

Dear Mayor and Councilmembers,

Please vote against the zombie development resurrection ordinance (Item 79) and sewage irrigation on the Barton Springs recharge zone (Item 33) without first sending these items to the Environmental Board and the general public for review and input. There is no emergency on either item and no reason that the Environmental Board and the community should be cut out of the normal process of providing citizen and stakeholder input on important city council decisions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Help us continue our watchdog efforts!!
Please consider a donation or monthly pledge to SOS today.