Hi Fellow River Runners and River Lovers! Please take a few minutes to enjoy our fall newsletter.*
Well, kind of on the River Runner side of things.
No secret, but the weather has been brutal this summer. A vast majority of the State is in some level of drought conditions. I drove across the upper Guadalupe River last week, at US Hwy 281. I always love to look down (as my lane alarm goes off on my truck) and see the water. Wait, where’s the water??? What the what?!!!
Bone dry. Never seen it dry. Ever. Been boating up that way since 1977.
Most of you have seen the same effects, to one degree or another, across the State. Flows are down. Reservoirs are at critically low levels. Ranchers have dry stock tanks. Farmers are plowing under shriveled crops. It’s bad. Very, very bad. Some recent rains have helped, but the State overall is majorly suffering.
Texas now has over 30 million people living here. This puts even more stress on infrastructure. Electricity. Water. Wastewater. Roads. All of it.
In the “silver lining” category, this has helped folks realize the critical importance of water. Folks that have never thought beyond the water that comes out of their tap now realize that the water mostly comes out of reservoirs. Larger towns, like San Antonio, get the majority of their water from the Edward’s Aquifer. Deeper aquifers, such as the Trinity, are being increasingly tapped for this incredibly precious resource.
Continued research into water sources/uses, demonstration projects on water reuse, and some – finally – realizations that water is a finite resource, are causing some policy shifts in the State. These include permitting changes/modifications in wastewater. Continued and updated Water Management Plans from the State and other groups.
TRPA has worked on various wastewater permit issues. Specifically, we have fought very hard to encourage development that has “beneficial reuse” of any wastewater generated by development, be in municipal or industrial wastewater. TRPA has partnered with many organizations, including Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners, and the Texas Association of Builders, to educate, encourage, and advocate for these issues. We provide data, Professional Engineering information, and other data on wastewater permit applications, comments, and hearings.
TRPA generally works through the long process of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) permits, once we know about them. Permits are essentially not known about until after TCEQ issues a “preliminary approval” for an application, then publishes it in a newspaper. Fortunately, TRPA is part of a broad coalition that is actively monitoring such Public Notices. This begins our engagement to avoid discharges.
TRPA and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) recently had their combined efforts pay off on one such permit. TRPA member Charlie Pfluger came to about a permit that was immediately upstream of his cattle ranch on the Guadalupe/Comal County line. The developer was going to dump a large volume of wastewater into a dry ditch, that fed directly into a stock tank that was one of the primary sources of water for his cattle. After many hearings, data input, and wonderful legal representation from the Save Our Springs Alliance, the Developer signed a Mediation Agreement that addressed many of the long-term concerns that groups such as TRPA contested. The result of this effort defined a legal agreement wherein 17 acres was set aside for reuse irrigation.
It was a very long battle on that one permit. There are many more in the works.
Yes, the above talks about critical water quality issues. Without clean water, the rivers and streams will become choked with algae. Aquatic life will suffer. Local economies will suffer.
But can you actually get to your favorite paddling spot? River access is becoming an increasingly difficult issue. Alexander Neal was heavily involved with the Save the Cutoff group, that was working to restore historical access to an area on the Trinity River. TxDOT continues to do highway upgrades across rivers, that now limit river access along the right-of-way. Many counties are similarly limiting access. A lot of this has to do with liability and …..TRASH. Folks continue to use rivers, both from shore and on the water, as a dumping ground.
But with all of the issues, we need to remember to get out and paddle, or float, or soak in the river. Nothing like that “ahhhh” moment, right?
Hope to SYOTR. David Price
*modifed content for space
TRPA Annual Meeting recap, March 5th, 2023
Big thanks to the members at large that joined the Board at the annual TRPA membership meeting held in San Marcos on Sunday March 5th.
SAVE THE DATE: The next annual TRPA board meeting will be held Sunday March 3, 2024. The day after the Great Texas River Clean up of the San Marcos River.
It has been over 10 years since the By-laws of the TRPA have been updated. This past year a dedicated group reviewed the By-Laws and presented recommendations to modernize the rules which TRPA is governed. Check out the blog post for more information. Be sure to respond to the request to vote on these changes.
2023 CLEAN RIVER EVENTS FUTURE…..
Saturday October 28, 2023
2023 LoCo Trash Bash scheduled on October 28th will mark its’ 5th year. Organizers aim to exceed the haul of the collective past four events. The goal is to remove over 50 tons of trash from the Colorado River between Austin and Utley. You won’t want to miss this fun!
Sign up today to participate in the event.
2023 CLEAN RIVER EVENTS PAST…..
March saw the 38th Annual Great Texas River Cleanup
While it is the 38th clean-up of the San Marcos River is promoted as The Great Texas River Clean Up, Tom and Paula Goynes have been cleaning up the San Marcos River for over 50 years. As new coordinators took over leadership of The Great Texas River Clean Up, this year the volunteer crews did not disappoint. Together we pulled over 40 cubic yards of trash and 30 tires from the 70 miles of river from John Stokes Park in San Marcos to Palmetto State Park. Peruse the photos and enjoy the drone coverage of the day. Check out this link to see the goings-on.
The reasons we love this event so much, relaxing fireside with friends after filling our bellies on BBQ, and sharing stories after a beautiful day paddling, cleaning up the river we love.
Clean Rivers focus on the Brazos River . . .
On Memorial Day weekend near Glen Rose, Friends of the Brazos River, Texas Land Conservancy, five NTX Chapters of Texas Master Naturalist, The Brazos River Authority (BRA) and Texas Conservation Alliance (TCA) joined forces to hold the annual clean up and camp out to protect and keep the Brazos River clean.
Thank you to Kayak power of Dallas for supporting the effort with essential gear for the paddle. The group pulled almost 150 tires from the river. Throughout the weekend, Master Naturalists held informative and interesting talks and demonstrations. Representing the coastal end of the Brazos, Bruce Bodson of Lower Brazos Riverwatch gave an engaging orientation to the LBR goals and challenges of the Lower Brazos. Bruce will also make a presentation at the October Hidalgo Falls Festival (tentative).
Clean Up: Upper Guadalupe River
The 20th Annual River Clean Up was held on July 22, 2023. The Upper Guadalupe River Authority, with the support of many community partners, cleanup supplies were provided. This community event removed trash from the Guadalupe River and the watershed throughout Kerr County.
For information on the UGRA River Clean Up, visit http://www.ugra.org/major-initiatives/river-clean-up.
Other Goings On…
Hidalgo Falls River Festival
The annual Hidalgo Falls Texas River Festival is fast approaching! Secure your spot for the weekend of October 14-15 for paddling fun and witness the partial eclipse of the sun over Texas. Steve Daniel, the father of Hidalgo Falls, will be presenting a lunchtime talk on the preservation history of Hidalgo Falls and how it became the showcase property for TRPA.
There is still space available for classes and trips. Admission to the festival is only $40 and includes two nights of camping. Additional options for on-water classes and paddle trips, you choose activities you want to participate in. Admission and activity registration available using this link.
Alternatively, we have volunteer opportunities for registration and parking. Volunteers receive free coffee & continental breakfast.
If any member has a related business, hobby or club they would like to showcase, vendor participation is free! Tee shirts, jewelry, sports gear, adventure clubs, paddle clubs, food and the like are all welcome!
All net proceeds support the TRPA efforts to secure access and maintain the quality of Texas rivers.
Call to Action: Vote in favor of Texas Proposition 14 November 7th, 2023
The $1 billion fund will help secure new parks for future generations of Texans to explore and enjoy. A “yes” vote supports amending the state constitution to create the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund—a trust fund for the creation and improvement of state parks. TRPA supports this proposition, and we will vote yes, will you? See the TX Prop 14 blog post for more details.
Update: SMART Project east of San Marcos
Many of you may have heard about the incredibly large industrial development going in east of San Marcos off of US Highway 80. SMART = San Marcos Air, Rail, & Transportation Terminal is a very large project which would have had a significant impact on groundwater and surface waters east of 35, including the San Marcos River and the Edwards aquifer. After much engagement from local and statewide individuals and groups the developer has withdrawn the application and permits,
Those remembered through generous donations to the Texas River Protection Association…
Louis Aulbach and Kenneth Bennight
See you on the river….(SYOTR)
Lovely river photos courtesy of Michael Tidwell. From left to right, top to bottom. Sabine River, Frio River, Caddo Lake, Medina River, Guadalupe, and Medina River