Dear Friend of the Springs,
In 1990, Austin Chronicle Editor Louis Black challenged his readers to try and imagine an Austin without Barton Springs Pool—“a future Austin with a crumbling near-empty pool, restricted because what water there is is too polluted for swimming.” Fortunately for Austin and its generations to come, enough residents did see that future, and they rejected it.
In response to plans from developers to pave over thousands of acres of land within the Barton Creek watershed upstream of Barton Springs Pool, more than 800 Austin residents signed up to speak to the Austin City Council in opposition. The council unanimously rejected the plans, Barton Springs Pool was saved, and the Save Our Springs movement was born.
Since 1992, the Save Our Springs Alliance has been working to protect the water quality of Barton Springs, the Edwards Aquifer, and all of the beautiful creeks and rivers of the Texas Hill Country. We wrote and helped secure voter approval of the landmark Save Our Springs Initiative Ordinance, which to this day embodies the gold standard of water quality protections in Texas. And, as the only public interest legal team in Central Texas dedicated to protecting its natural resources, have successfully defended against developers’ attacks on the SOS Ordinance and our local environmental regulations, all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.
Austin has changed quite a bit since the early 90s; it’s nearly doubled in population, becoming the 11th largest city in the nation. The area around it has grown as well, creating new challenges for managing growth and limiting the impacts of development. To help address these challenges, the Save Our Springs Alliance has expanded its efforts in the Texas Hill Country to better manage our limited water resources and to encourage cities to invest in land conservation as a strategy to protect groundwater, and to adopt stricter regulations to protect the springs and rivers that are the life source of our entire region. But, our work is never finished.
Please help Save Our Springs today by making a contribution to support the science, law, and public education we need to protect our environmental resources. 50% of your donation will be matched by the Kirk Mitchell Environmental Law Fund.
The world is slowly waking up to the reality that climate change is real. And, while this is a global issue, the impacts of climate change are felt locally. In Austin, we are experiencing threats from two extremes: heavier rainfall means increased flooding risks, while less frequent rainfall means more severe periods of drought. With your continued financial assistance, we can help the City of Austin and other communities adjust their policies and regulations to respond to these new threats and require developments to be more climate-responsive.
Right now, SOS attorneys are working collaboratively with other environmental stakeholders and city leaders to bring forward “GREEN” amendments to Austin’s land development code that (i) will require new buildings to be more water-efficient through water-benchmarking and dual plumbing requirements; (ii) will take full advantage of the benefits of green infrastructure as a way of retaining, using and treating storm water; and (iii) will continue and enhance protections for the critical water quality zones of our creeks, to reduce erosion and filter out pollution.
But, more importantly, the continued success of the Save Our Springs movement that began so many years ago is entirely reliant on our ability to reach the next generation of Austinites, as well as the thousands of new citizens flocking to our region. Save Our Springs is responding to this challenge by expanding and enhancing its most important mission, our educational programming.
This year our Outreach & Education team has grown our premier educational program, Barton Springs University (BSU), into a year-round program that includes snorkeling eco-tours, hikes, and kid camps at Barton Springs and Barton Creek and inclass Barton Springs 101 presentations for schools and civic groups. The program culminates in September at the BSU event, a full day of outdoor education and experiential learning activities at Barton Springs Pool for over 1,000 high school students and their teachers as well as college students and the general public.
Our goal is to educate these new citizens, re-engage longtime citizens, and inspire our young people as the next generation of environmental activists, to care about water stewardship and environmental sustainability in Central Texas. Barton Springs University gives them the opportunity to obtain a foundation in the management and stewardship of our region’s water resources and aquatic ecosystems and to learn what we must do as a city and a region to protect and sustain our home waters. For more information go to: BartonSpringsUniversity.org.
We cannot do this work without your generous support. Please include the Save Our Springs Alliance in your end-of-year charitable giving. Together, 2020 can be our most important year ever by expanding Barton Springs University, defending the Save Our Springs Ordinance and continuing our legal efforts to defend and protect our precious creeks, springs, and rivers.
Thank you for your consideration and your past support, and thank you for being part of the Save Our Springs community. We hope you will join us at Barton Springs on New Year’s Day for the Polar Bear Splash. We will be at the front gate from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. with our commemorative t-shirts for sale and free hot coffee and donuts. Bring the whole family, and invite your friends and colleagues to join in the sense of community, good will, and pure joy of starting the New Year at Barton Springs.
Warm wishes for the holiday season,
Save Our Springs Alliance Board and Staff
With the support of our members and our community partners, 2019 has been a busy and productive year for Save Our Springs. Here are some of our accomplishments:
In 2019, our team of attorneys took several important legal and policy-based actions to address some of our region’s most urgent environmental challenges: